Networked lighting startup Enlighted has taken its first step into expanding from U.S. to overseas markets, starting in Singapore.

On Monday, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup announced a strategic partnership with EDBI, the corporate investment arm of Singapore’s Economic Development Board, to form a subsidiary focused on bringing its smart lighting sensor and control nodes to offices and commercial buildings in the city-state, as well as to broader Asian markets.

EDBI has also invested $5 million into Enlighted, bringing the startup’s total funding raised to $45 million, CEO Tushar Dave said in a Tuesday interview. Previous investors include RockPort Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Intel Capital and DFJ JAIC, the Global DFJ Network firm focused on U.S.-Japanese opportunities.

Enlighted has already set up its Singapore subsidiary, Dave said. In fact, the company has already deployed in about half a million square feet of office space in Singapore, as part of a move that several of its U.S.-based corporate customers have made to install Enlighted’s technology in their overseas offices in Singapore, China and elsewhere, he said.

But the deal with EDBI represents a new push to capture new customers in Asia, starting with the densely populated state of Singapore, where all electricity is imported and utility rates are twice as high as anywhere in the United States, he said. That’s made Singapore’s government a key partner for green technology companies seeking footholds in the region, including smart grid networker Silver Spring Networks, and others in the green buildings, energy efficiency and water and waste sustainability fields.   

While Enlighted and EDBI haven’t announced any new customers yet, “We see in the short term an opportunity, a very substantial opportunity, because it’s a very under-penetrated market,” he said. The startup is also looking at other markets that seem ripe for smart-building technologies, such as Hong Kong and Japan, he said.

Enlighted is one of a host of startups seeking to monitor and control interior lighting for improved energy efficiency, better occupant control and comfort, and reduced operations and maintenance costs. Founded in 2009, the startup had installed its sensor and control nodes in about 14 million square feet of commercial space as of September, putting it in competition with rivals such as Digital Lumens, which has 50 million square feet deployed, Daintree Networks, which has about 10 million square feet deployed, and Adura, which had about 7 million square feet deployed as of March, when it was acquired by lighting company Acuity.

All are seeking to use low-cost wireless networks to decrease the cost of traditional wired commercial lighting control networks, which are now used in less than 10 percent of U.S. office buildings, according to industry estimates.

The idea is to give facility managers insight into building-wide lighting system status, which allows them to turn off or dim lights via preprogrammed settings, occupancy sensors, or even by the amount of daylight available through the course of the day.

This kind of fine-tuned control can yield energy savings of between 50 percent and 70 percent, depending on how well suited an individual building’s lighting technology and use patterns are to driving efficiency, as well as how aggressive the building owners or tenants decide to be in pursuing it.  

At the same time, turning each ceiling light into an individually controllable entity can allow office occupants to set their own preferred lighting levels and schedules via online interfaces. In fact, making office lights more pleasant and responsive to the needs of workers tends to be as important as efficiency in getting customers to sign up for Enlighted’s technology, Dave said. 

Singapore also represents a valuable testing ground for going beyond lighting, he said. Like many of its networked lighting competitors, Enlighted is interested in using its ubiquitous ceiling sensor nodes for temperature, occupancy and energy consumption data to help building HVAC systems better manage their energy use.

“We are looking at expanding beyond just lighting controls, to other areas of energy efficiency, taking advantage of the data we collect,” he said. The company’s “Enlighted Sensor” devices, which attach to new or existing LED, fluorescent, CFL or HID light fixtures, are configured to sense and distribute a wide variety of data that could be of use to broader building efficiency efforts.

That includes work Enlighted is doing with as-yet-unnamed building management system vendors, he said. “A lot of our customers have either Siemens, Johnson Controls or Honeywell BMS systems,” he said. “One of the things we’ve found out is that the type of data we have, the other BMS providers do not have that type of data. It’s very attractive for them -- and for us.”

Watch Enlighted introduce its product:

Tags: adura, asia, digital lumens, energy efficiency, enlighted, green building, green lighting, hvac, japan, lights, lumens, redwood systems, singapore, smart building, smart lighting