The Encelium Experience Lowers Energy Use at UNMC


Brian Dykstra uses the Encelium lighting management system every day.

As project manager for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) facilities management planning group, Dykstra uses the system to control lighting (and related HVAC adjustments) in 33 buildings, totaling around four million square feet — from offices to the student center to specialized medical labs.

The Encelium Experience describes how the Encelium light management system combines sophisticated capabilities with simple use at every level, from installation and use to support and expansion.

A key part of that experience is intuitive Polaris software, which is at the heart of the Encelium system. Polaris enables Dykstra, also an electrical engineer, to monitor an extensive lighting infrastructure and make changes quickly. “I can do a lot of things that used to require being on-site, rewiring, or making time-consuming changes,” says Dykstra. He also uses the system’s analytics and reporting capabilities, which provide insights on occupancy, current building status, consumption reports, and any operational issues.

Users also report that Encelium is intuitive and easy for electricians to wire, and the system enables seamless integration of a wide range of drivers and luminaries.

“The overall experience with Encelium has been favorable,” says Matt Christensen, electrical field manager at Miller Electric, a premier electrical contractor that has worked with Dykstra on UNMC projects. “Encelium is easy to install and troubleshoot. And my electricians like it.”

Ultimately, the Encelium Experience extends to users — including students, administrators, physicians, and others — who experience lighting that they can adjust, quickly and easily.

The Encelium system’s flexibility enables Dykstra to meet the varying needs of the many medical specialties and research labs within UNMC. Its advanced controls appeal to UNMC’s specialized medical users, who are able to adjust a room’s lighting for their needs.

For example, a cardiac catheterization lab recently wanted specialized lighting controls in its facility that would complement its medical equipment. To create a more comfortable, controllable environment, Dykstra integrated foot pedals from the medical equipment with the Encelium system. “Depending on which pedal they step on,” he says, “the lights go to certain settings appropriate for that point in the procedure.” This approach frees doctors to focus on their vital work and doesn’t require a dedicated person to adjust the room lighting.

Dykstra said UNMC’s main goal with Encelium is energy conservation. “We monitor occupancy sensors and shut off areas when they’re not occupied,” he said. “In fact, we run the whole campus in vacancy mode, so you have to come in and turn on the lights with a switch. That way if someone walks by a doorway and trips the sensor accidentally, the lights aren’t on for 15 or 30 minutes for no reason; only lights that are on are supposed to be on.”

The result? UNMC lowered its energy use by 25 percent in its first year of using Encelium lighting management, while adding a million square feet of new space in the process. The Encelium system also enables UNMC to curtail energy use during peak periods — and avoid paying top rates — by making automatic lighting reductions. Thanks to an incremental curtailment strategy, users may not even notice the changes.

In all, Dykstra estimates that UNMC saves approximately $230,000 a year in electricity costs alone, thanks to the control enabled by the Encelium system. These cost savings have become even more important during the pandemic, which has had a major financial impact on educational institutions. “We continually strive to make our buildings as efficient as we can,” says Dykstra.

For users, the Encelium Experience continues with responsive technical support. “When I need to, I can call Encelium and talk to the right person,” Dykstra says.

About the University of Nebraska Medical Center
The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) is the state’s only public academic health sciences center. Its mission encompasses patient care, research, outreach, and education. UNMC currently serves more than 4,000 students across six colleges, two institutes, and a graduate studies program.