Adura Technologies has released the first version of ALPS – the Adura LightPoint System – for commercial sale and hopes to have the lighting for 300,000 to 400,000 square feet of commercial real estate under its control by the end of the year.

By 2014, the company hopes to control the lights illuminating 100 million square feet of commercial real estate.

The company is part of the growing market for lighting control. Although the vast majority of office buildings have centrally controlled thermostats, lights largely remain free and untethered. Lighting controls are found in only about 1 percent of California office buildings. By installing controllers and networking that can shut off lights after everyone has left or that can turn down the intensity of lights during the day, lighting control companies say they can cut the power consumed by lighting by 50 percent or more. In a recent two-week test with PG&E, Adura managed to cut the light load by 72.9 percent.

Competitor Lumenergi recommends that offices keep the lights at 80 percent. Lighting consumes approximately 25 percent of the energy consumed in commercial buildings, according to the Buildings Energy Data Book from the Department of Energy. Computers only consume 4 percent, while electronics – printers, fax machines, phones, etc. – only consume 7 percent. What would be an easier way to save power – turn off the twinkly lights that make up the urban skyline or not use computers?

The LightPoint system revolves around a controller that is attached to fluorescent tube fixture and a complementary stack of networking and software technology that effectively allows someone in an central room to control and/or monitor the power consumption for lights. People sitting at their desks can adjust light levels. Still, most of the time they don't – humans adjust to lower light levels quite well – and electricity consumption is curbed. Installation is fairly quick: The controllers contain radios that form a mesh network. Thus, building owners don't have to run category 5 cables through the roof to get the lights networked.

Adura, which emerged in part from the University of California, sells the complete package as a service. The service costs about $2 to $2.50 a square foot, but the cost varies with the type of lights installed in the building, the functions performed inside the building and other factors, says CEO Jack Bolick. It's easier to think in terms of payback. Most of the time, the technology pays for itself in under five years. Some buildings can get a two-year payback and in some cases the payback happens right at the start.

"That is at the places where people leave the lights on at night," he said. A large portion of the early installations will occur at university campuses.

While Adura will sell ALPS under its own name, it is also in negotiations with two major lighting companies to OEM the product under their names, he said. It is also training electricians in the technology and building a sales and marketing channel.

While Adura and Lumenergi concentrate on interior office lights, Metrolight and HID Laboratories have developed dynamic controllers for high intensity discharge lights that illuminate tennis courts and Walmarts. Established companies like Echelon, Philips and Johnson Controls also want to control lights. Philips has already bought a lighting control company this year and further acquisitions within the industry are, at least judging by history, highly probable

Adura, meanwhile, also plans to move from controlling lights to other building systems such as heaters and air conditioners.

Another company – EnOcean – has a low-powered lighting control system. The kinetic energy generated by a finger flipping a light switch is enough to power a wireless signal. EnOcean's technology has allowed other companies to make light switches that don't have wires and can be moved to various walls.