Meeting-Training Room Applications
Last Update: February 14, 2011
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Meeting-Training Room Design

Glare control, daylighting and visual comfort are high priorities for meeting environments. Color rendering should be flattering and perceived as natural. Appropriate facial modeling contributes to effective meeting interactions and is essential for video conferencing. Perimeter vertical illuminance is important for lighting display walls and for maintaining a sense of brightness and alertness over long meetings. The lighting should be comfortable, but a small amount of contrast is desirable to create visual interest and increase focus and mental stimulation. Daylighting and windows, even into the interior, reduce fatigue.

Each of the following modules show alternative energy effective lighting designs for office meeting spaces. These are only a sampling of valid approaches, but each adheres to the following goals for conference room lighting:

  • Multiple lighting systems, controlled separately, provide flexibility by layering lighting effects.
  • Ceiling and wall surfaces should be illuminated because they contribute to the occupants’ sense of brightness in the space and focus attention on display walls.
  • Window brightness should be balanced by light-colored finishes and lighting on the interior-most walls. 
  • Visual interest can be created with light by enhancing architectural features, featuring art work, the use of decorative luminaires, or lighting full-height walls.
  • Orienting conference rooms with windows on the short end provides an important connection to the exterior, without taking too much window wall from open-plan work spaces. The daylight contributes illumination to the ceiling and vertical surfaces. Smaller window walls are also easier to control when darkening is desired for audio visual presentations.
  • Controls are clearly labeled, and operators are provided with instructions for the correct operation of the controls.

Meeting spaces on the perimeter of a building can effectively use daylight to light the walls and ceilings, as well as provide the important connection to the out-of-doors. Interior conference rooms on the top floor can be top lighted by skylights, clerestories or tubular daylight delivery units.  More energy can be saved, and spaciousness achieved, by providing a glass wall between the conference room and adjacent circulation or offices, with appropriate considerations for privacy. Daylight can be the primary source throughout much of the day, with local accent lighting providing supplementation on the conference table or display walls if needed. Meeting spaces typically must be fitted with shading providing total or partial black-out for audio visual presentations. Proper sun control should be designed to prevent excessive heat gain and glare, while maximizing the use of daylight during times when the sun is not on the windows. Exterior sun control is more effective from a thermal and energy standpoint, but if exterior sun control is not sufficient, interior blinds or shades should be motorized and controllable by the audio visual system.
Interior Design Considerations

  • The higher the ceilings, the farther the daylight can penetrate into the meeting space, and the more effectively the electric lights can distribute light through glass walls between spaces.
  • Light colored finishes utilize the electric light and daylight more effectively, and contribute to visual comfort.

Maintenance Issues

  • Linear fluorescent lamps, especially 4’ long high performance (“super”) T-8lamps and ballast systems, are the most efficient source for ambient lighting and wallwashing. These systems have very long rated lives and are readily available through distribution. Ceramic metal halide and compact fluorescent lamps may be effective for accent lighting or low light levels. These sources can significantly reduce energy and maintenance compared to tungsten halogen or incandescent sources. It is best to design with the fewest different lamp types possible to minimize stocking and replacement errors. Luminaires should be cleaned on a regular basis to avoid loss of light from dirty surfaces.

Controls for Conference / Meeting Spaces

Each control strategy listed below can be used in combination with the other strategies to achieve the greatest energy savings. Occupancy times and patterns should be understood before finalizing control system design.

Daylight Dimming
Dimming ballasts and photosensors allow zones of luminaires near windows and under skylights to continuously dim or switch off when sufficient daylight is available. Continuous dimming is preferred in meeting rooms. Automated shades should be considered (to lower when sunlight penetrates) but should be carefully coordinated with the need for A/V lighting, so lights don’t automatically raise up when blackout shades come down.

Multi-zone control
The luminaires should be organized into functional zones of light, each of which will be controlled together. Typical zones are “Wallwashing”, “White Board”, “Cove Lighting”, “Table Lighting,” Aisle Lighting, etc.  These zones should combine luminaires of the same type, or at least luminaires using the same light source. Each zone can either be dimmed or switched. Each zone can be controlled separately by controls accessible to the conference room users (via wall-mounted switches and dimmers, or A/V control, or handheld wireless remote control). In addition, the designers may choose to prescribe the use of the room lighting by specifying a multi-scene preset control system. The desired light levels for a specific function are established by the designer (pre-set). Typical scenes are established for meeting set-up, conferring, lecturer, A/V low and dark, and all off.

Addressing Individual Luminaires
Luminaires in conference spaces often need to be assigned to more than one zone. For example, the lights closest to the windows are dimmed in response to daylighting when the shades are open, but should be dimmed with interior lights when the room is darkened for A/V presentations. This can be accomplished with some conventional pre-set systems, but is easiest when each luminaire is assigned to a unique zone, or is individually addressable by the control system. One of the methods for achieving this configuration is a digital addressable lighting control system. Wireless systems are available that provide flexibility and energy savings, particularly in existing facilities.  The ALG Lighting Controls section has additional detailed information.

Vacancy Sensors
Even a multi-zone or multi-scene preset system should require manual-on operation, turning the system controller and the lights off when the space is vacant. Lights should not turn on automatically when the room is entered.

A/V controls
Conference rooms typically have an Audio / Visual control system that allows the presenter to activate projectors, sound and lights together from one location. The lighting can be controlled entirely from the A/V system, but they are more often controlled by separate, dedicated lighting controls. Various pre-sets can then be activated by the A/V controls. Since meeting rooms are often used without use of the A/V system, independent lighting controls should always be accessible to the occupants. 

Shade controls
Conference rooms need shades for windows, skylights and interior glass partitions for a variety of reasons – sun control, glare control, privacy, and room darkening for A/V presentations. Since these functions may not always align with the pre-sets established for the lighting scenes or the A/V scenes or automated sun control, it is recommended that it always be possible to activate the shading independently of these other systems.

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