References to energy savings and “green” processes have become ubiquitous in our society; sometimes, people do not realize that achieving such savings could be as easy as changing a light bulb.
The benefits of going sustainable when retrofitting a commercial building’s lighting are not limited to energy savings. Reducing maintenance costs and health hazards, while increasing employee/tenant efficiency and the space’s overall aesthetic appeal, are likely consequences of the changeover.
Most existing buildings have downlighting that was installed in the 1980s or earlier, meaning that their current lighting is either incandescent-based or structured around relatively inefficient, first-generation compact fluorescents.
Before changing a building’s lighting, it is necessary to change one’s mindset and become attuned to what is happening in the field of energy independence today. In December 2007, the federal government enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Under its provisions, incandescent light bulbs will be phased out in the U.S. beginning January 2012.
As a LED (light emitting diodes) or solid state lighting retrofit is considered, it should come as a source of comfort that you are not alone. Some major businesses are already lighting the way as a result of the great energy and cost savings, and increased aesthetic appeal this forward-thinking light source affords. In fact, LED is one of the most energy-efficient options on the market today, using from 2 – 20 watts of electricity helping to cut energy consumption by more than 30 – 50 percent.
It is understandable that in today’s cost-conscious world, commercial-building operators may opt to delay a lighting upgrade; however, changes do not need to come all at once. Architects and designers can work with you on a room-by-room approach to upgrade the lighting.
Instantly, the improved eye-catching aesthetics would be noticed. Shortly, you would start reaping other benefits to integrating LEDs. Namely, energy costs.
According to EnergyStar.gov, “Lighting uses about 18 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S., and another 4 to 5 percent goes to remove the wasted heat generated by those lights. Lighting in commercial buildings accounts for close to 71 percent of overall lighting electricity use in the U.S. With good design, lighting-energy use in most buildings can be cut at least in half while maintaining or improving lighting quality. Such designs typically pay for themselves in energy savings alone within a few years, and they offer more benefits in terms of the potential for smaller and less-costly cooling systems and more-productive work environments.”
In addition, LED lighting eases both the volume and cost of maintenance work. Lamps do not need to be changed as often, and in some cases, they do not need to be changed at all, adding to the cost-savings experienced as a result of the installation of LEDs.
Perhaps an unintended consequence of a lighting makeover is an increase in employee/ tenant comfort and efficiency. Several green-building studies have shown that workforce-productivity gains of as much as 7 percent are possible with properly designed lighting. Not surprisingly, studies have shown an inverse relationship exists between productivity and stress; as productivity heightens, stress typically lowers. With high stress levels – many of which are derived from the workplace – being ever-present, why not try to achieve the highest-quality work space for your tenants?
Because of the many ancillary boons to a lighting upgrade, it is easy to forget that, simply, LEDs offer an excellent quality of light. They are also able to achieve a high uniformity of light, which is equally as beneficial.
While choosing a sustainable light source over incandescents should be a no-brainer, it can be difficult to assess all the products available to one when considering retrofitting a building. Since it may come down to a choice of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs, it’s helpful to know how they compare. Both provide energy savings over incandescents, and they equally provide uniformity of light. CFLs can also qualify for between one and five light-based LEED points.
LEDs are still the superior choice, though. Unlike CFLs, they do not emit harmful UV rays, have no mercury content, and can achieve a 30-percent energy savings over CFLs and easily qualify for all five light-based LEED points as well as meet the most stringent ASHRAE 90.1 energy standards – all while lasting 50,000 hours. Replacing a building’s existing lighting with LED also offers:
Maximum energy benefit
Excellent quality of light
Faster financial payback
If you can accomplish the same lighting application with substantially less energy, and no loss of light output, why wouldn’t you flip the switch?