After many expansions and renovations during more than 40 years, Mulvey & Banani eventually outgrew its premises and was ready for a change. The thriving firm wanted a bright, comfortable space for their more than 130 staff. It wanted to be able to control all aspects of light to meet their varying needs. Mulvey & Banani also wanted to use its new 23,000-square-foot offices in Toronto as a showcase for innovative design — including the latest in lighting and light management — for its current and prospective clients.
Lighting is a cornerstone of Mulvey & Banani’s business, which includes a division of ten lighting designers. “We always strive to be an industry leader in understanding, designing, and specifying the latest and greatest technologies,” says Vice President Kevin Pattison, who headed up the office design and build-out, completed in November 2020. “And that includes lighting and lighting controls.”
“With our new office space, we wanted to demonstrate to our clients that we practice what we preach,” he adds. “If we recommend to them that they should incorporate circadian lighting in their offices, then we should as well.”
One innovator chooses another
To bring innovative light management to its new offices, Mulvey & Banani turned to a longstanding, trusted partner — Encelium. Over the years, the firm had implemented hundreds of thousands of square feet of Encelium lighting for its clients throughout the greater Toronto area and beyond. It had a high comfort level that Encelium could deliver the capabilities that it needed — and make their offices a showcase for the latest in lighting and lighting controls.
“The Encelium system was exactly what we were looking for,” recalls Pattison. “And right from the start, the support that we got from the Encelium team was exceptional.” The Mulvey & Banani team was also excited about the new capabilities of Encelium X. Their new office would be among the first to benefit from the latest, most advanced Encelium system.
More light, new innovations
“A lot of the new initiatives in our industry are focused on the quality of light, including the LEED standards, and more specifically the WELL Building Standard,” says Pattison. “With Encelium X, we could be sure our offices would be able to harvest daylight, provide tunable white light, adjust automatically to circadian rhythms — and achieve consistent light levels.”
Wireless controls provide the answer
With Encelium X, Mulvey & Banani could choose from wireless, wired, or a hybrid system design. It selected wireless for its overall flexibility. “Wireless offered us the ability to keep some of our final design decisions open,” says Pattison. “Early on in the design stage, we weren’t really sure where we wanted switches and occupancy sensors to be placed. An all-wireless system offered us a lot of comforts, knowing that we had the flexibility, even during the late stages of construction, of deciding where to place devices from both a functionality and an aesthetics standpoint.”
That flexibility continues long after the construction is complete. “If we find that an occupancy sensor isn’t located optimally, we can move it quickly and easily using simple magnets or two-sided tape,” says Pattison. “We don’t have to call an electrical contractor to come back and move conduits, boxes, and ceilings — disrupting our work.” Since the Encelium keypads feature interchangeable button kits, Mulvey & Banani can make quick changes to meet evolving needs or employee preferences.
Wireless components also allow the firm to showcase the latest in wireless controls and other capabilities to prospective clients. As an example, its large, central conference room includes an integrated privacy blinds system from Encelium partner, Somfy. With the touch of a keypad, the conference room can provide privacy if a meeting requires such an environment.
Freedom to choose any luminaire
Mulvey and Banani’s new office features a wide range of distinctive luminaires, primarily from Canadian manufacturers. With the Encelium system’s luminaire-agnostic approach, it could be confident that any luminaire would integrate seamlessly with Encelium X. “With Encelium, we don’t have to worry about the control protocol — whether it be DALI, DMX, 0-10V or something else,” says Pattison. “We know it’ll work.” As a result, the new office can showcase a diverse assortment of lighting, including its main open-office area luminaire, which the team refers to as the hockey stick fixture — appropriate for a Canadian company.
Saving time and reducing complexity with integrated controls
With Encelium X, the controls are integrated right into the luminaire for simplicity and ease of installation. “Having the controls integrated into the fixtures simplified the process for everyone involved — us, our electrical contractor, procurement, and the fixture manufacturer,” says Pattison. “The process moved faster and ensured less troubleshooting at the end of the day.”
Easy integration with other building systems
As the system expands, Encelium X will use local APIs to integrate with Mulvey & Banani’s other systems, including its building intelligence system, enabling it to adjust heating and cooling automatically via setbacks. Easy integration means that Encelium can work seamlessly with Mulvey & Banani’s other innovative systems. “Along with the Encelium system, we have a second set of third-party sensors,” says Pattison. “These are doing beaconing and Bluetooth tracking navigation, wayfinding, humidity, and temperature sensing, and more.” In short, Mulvey & Banani is taking innovation and integration to new levels.
The Encelium system also provides key data to third-party building intelligence software for analysis and insights. “We pull all of the data from Encelium into one dashboard, so we can chart everything from energy savings to temperature to space utilization,” says Pattison. “Going forward, we’ll know much more about how our office space is being utilized, so we can make informed decisions.”
Polaris makes management simple and intuitive
Ultimately, management of the Encelium system will fall to Pattison, who anticipates that it will take very little of his time. “The Polaris user interface is really simple and intuitive, so it’ll be easy to make minor tweaks to the system,” he says. “But I don’t think we’ll have to tinker much once the system is fully commissioned. With Polaris and Encelium X, it’s a set it and forget it situation.
Early reaction? Subdued but positive
Pattison characterizes the reaction of the company’s employees to the new offices as excited and intrigued. While they appreciate the advanced, easy-to-use capabilities of Encelium X, the general reaction has been polite silence. “The lack of complaints is a testament to how well the Encelium system operates,” explains Pattison. “We have a really sophisticated staff with very specific needs, and if anyone had an issue, even a small one, I would definitely hear about it. But I haven’t heard a single complaint, not even on weekends.”
Why not? “Encelium provides sophisticated capabilities on the back-end, but the user experience is simple and intuitive,” Pattison says. “With Encelium X, we’ve been able to knock this project out of the park — for our company and our people.”
Client: Mulvey & Banani
Architect: B+H Architects
Electrical Engineering Consultants: Mulvey & Banani (including Electrical, ICT, Security, Audio-Visual, Lighting and Building Intelligence)
Mechanical engineering consultants: The Mitchell Partnership
Principal Contractor: The Pentacon Group
Electrical Contractor: CMS Electrical
Mechanical contractor: OPUS Mechanical
About Mulvey & Banani
Mulvey & Banani is a Toronto-based engineering consulting firm providing comprehensive and integrated building systems engineering services for electrical and electronic systems that are innovative, resilient, and adaptable for new building construction and re-purposing/renovation of existing buildings. For individual buildings or global portfolios, Mulvey & Banani consults across all market sectors and project scales. Our scope of services ranges from engineering-intensive work, such as mission-critical power interventions, to the artistry of sound and light, offering dynamically-current solutions in Electrical, ICT, and Security building systems engineering, Audio Visual, Lighting, and Building Intelligence Design.