Lighting Controls, News

Acuity acquires Canadian controls company for $249 million

Getting a grip: Acuity wants to put lighting and all other building controls in the palm of your hand. It's part of the fledgling Internet of Things.

US LED specialist Acuity Brands has acquired Canadian building automation and energy management firm Distech Controls for around $249 million in a move that underscores the growing importance of connectivity in the new era of digital lighting and the ‘Internet of Things.’

‘The technologies resident in lighting, temperature, ventilation, access control and fire safety systems are converging into a single digital ecosystem,’ Acuity said in a press release. ‘This convergence provides a singular opportunity to couple Acuity Brands’ smart lighting and control systems to the building management portfolio of Distech Controls to deliver fully integrated digital solutions.’

The release pegged the purchase price at $318 million Canadian (about $249 million US).

It did not provide details on how Acuity plans to combine lighting systems with building controls. It notes in general that Acuity will leverage Distech and Acuity control systems to create new services ‘as the digital backbones of intelligent lighting and building systems converge to form a platform for the Internet of Things within commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.’

In one imagined example, digital lights could flash when a security system detects an intruder, or when a fire system detects smoke.

Lighting itself is in the infancy of sophisticated controls that can enable them turn on and off, brighten, dim, flash or even change colours in response to remote instructions or to sensors that detect a room’s activity.

As Greentech Media reported, ‘Only a small fraction of buildings now have smart lighting systems installed, making it a potentially wide-open market for startups, as well as lighting giants like Philips, which estimates the global lighting market at $75 billion and growing at a rapid clip. The market for wireless and wired lighting, along with the array of sensors that check for daylight, occupancy, temperature and other key variables, could add up to a $15 billion to $20 billion industry over the coming decade or so, research predicts.’

Distech is a $55 million ($70 million Canadian) company based near Montreal that specialises in systems that control buidings’ energy efficiency and climate.

Atlanta-based Acuity, a $2.4 billion company, markets lighting and controls under a variety of brands including Holophane, eldoLED, Lithonia, Peerless, and Acuity Controls.

The Distech acquisition is one of several Acuity has made in the controls area in recent years.

It’s all part of the industry’s movement to digitally connect lighting in residential, commerical, outdoor and industrial environments.  In the residential market, Google’s Nest is sprinting into position.

Lighting’s race to the Interent of Things is on.

Photo is from Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock