Will Smart Lighting Systems Replace BMS In Commercial Buildings?

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Will Smart Lighting Systems Replace BMS In Commercial Buildings?

Lighting systems are the second most energy-intensive component of building infrastructure, accounting for up to 40% of total energy usage. As lighting systems are ubiquitous across real estate asset types, smart lighting (SL) holds the potential to significantly raise the intelligence of global building stock. Consequently, SL is becoming an increasingly attractive investment prospect for real estate executives in boosting the value of their assets. Fundamentally, say proponents, SL systems can double as an interoperable building infrastructure network through which all building sensors and systems can communicate data.

For example, if lighting systems have integrated CO2 sensors, they can relay data to control platforms to allow HVAC ventilation to compensate in the event of elevated CO2 levels. However, if the lighting system were to become the conduit for that information, sensors should be positioned at head height for accurate readings, necessitating separate links with lighting controllers via wired or wireless means. This, in turn, requires a standard communications protocol.

In response to this opportunity, the SL industry is evolving rapidly, and new providers are coming to market and developing innovative capabilities. The recently announced partnership between Siemens, Enlighted and Zumbotel Group in March 2024 signals an advancement in intelligent IoT lighting and energy efficiency standards for building operations worldwide. However, SL systems currently operate autonomously from other building systems, with several wired and wireless protocols having emerged over the past decades, such as:

  • DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) (late 1990s): among the first of its kind, DALI is a wired standard used to digitally control individual light fixtures and enable functions such as dimming, colour control and scheduling.
  • Wi-Fi (1997): widely supported wireless communication standard that enables simple SL integration with building systems and data-intensive devices. Philips Hue, LIFX and TP-Link Kasa use Wi-Fi as their base protocol.
  • Z-Wave (1999): low-frequency, high-range wireless technology with self-healing network structure and reduced interference to ensure a reliable connection between devices. General Electric Lighting, Aeotec and Zooz Lighting leverage Z-Wave protocol.
  • Zigbee (2002): wireless communication protocol known for its mesh networking capabilities. Utilized for low-power, low-data-rate devices, Zigbee is preferred by several SL systems such as IKEA TRÅDFRI and Sengled Element.
  • LoRa (2009): long-range wireless data transmission for outdoor SL management and interoperability with smart city solutions.
  • BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) (2010): wireless technology designed for low-power and direct device-to-device communication. It is commonly utilized by SL providers, such as Siemens’ Enlighted and Nanoleaf, to allow interoperability between SL systems and mobile devices.
  • Casambi (2011): a BLE-based technology specific to the lighting industry that was developed by two former Nokia engineers, Timo Pakkala and Elena Lehtimäki, with the purpose of making connected devices “truly smart”.
  • Thread (2015): low-power, low-latency wireless protocol designed to provide a scalable, reliable, secure and low-power communication standard to connect various IoT devices such as HVAC systems, occupancy sensors and security systems.
  • Matter (2019): the newest wireless protocol to emerge, Matter, was developed by firms including Google, Amazon, Samsung and Apple. It is an open-source connectivity standard used to ensure compatibility for smart home and IoT devices.


Before SL systems become the backbone of building infrastructure, the market must settle on one of these protocols to standardize and streamline manufacturing processes – which will allow the market to truly take off.

In the coming months, Verdantix is releasing a dedicated report that will delve into the current state of the SL market – as well as what the future holds in store for it. For access when the report is released, please reach out at [email protected], or if you are a qualifying corporate practitioner, be sure to sign up for free access through our Vantage platform.

For further smart lighting industry insights, check out our previously published reports.


Sophie is an Analyst in the Verdantix Smart Buildings practice. She joined Verdantix in 2023, having previously worked as a landscape architect at James Blake Associates, where she gained experience in sustainable design and environmental policy. Sophie holds a BSc in Geography from the University of Exeter.