Oftentimes, because of unfamiliarity with newer, more sustainable products, or worries about the higher investment, sustainable lighting can be a hard sell. However, when building owners do their research and invest in sustainable lighting, they are capable of achieving incredible savings. Below are five key tips to ensure that your lighting design is as efficient as possible:
Despite LEDs reputation as a superior sustainable lighting option, there are a few issues which they commonly face, which can harm productivity and overall efficiency.
Only Buy Broad Spectrum
One of the issues many LEDs can create is an overabundance of blue-spectrum light. Because this tricks the body into thinking it is daytime it can actually curb our production of melatonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for controlling sleep. Investing in broad spectrum LEDs can aid in preventing the development of insomnia and seasonal affective disorder in building occupants, minimizing sick days and increasing productivity.
Invest in Quality Chips and Drivers
Two other significant issues are intermittent flickering and loss of intensity. The first can cause repetitive eye strain and stress-induced migraines as occupants’ eyes struggle to adjust to the changing light. The second is less pronounced, however, it can represent a significant cost over time. While the average LED has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, but some designs will see their efficiency reduce by 20% after just 8000 hours. These issues can be mitigated by purchasing lamps which utilize highly rated control chips and drivers.
The other most prevalent form of sustainable lighting, daylighting is often critiqued for the issues faced by more traditional products. Modern systems are designed to avoid these issues and, if properly integrated, provide high overall savings.
Keep HVAC and Building Envelope in Mind
In a commercial building HVAC can account for up to 39% of overall energy usage. When investing in daylighting consider how it can be used to minimize HVAC usage. Investing in systems with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) and U-value will help minimize heat gain and loss, creating a more stable internal temperature. This will not only create a more comfortable environment, but drastically cut energy costs.
Maximize Natural Health Benefits
When planning how to integrate natural sustainable lighting, plan around areas of high traffic or occupancy. Because exposure to natural light throughout the day is shown to have a positive mental and physical impact on building occupants, this will help increase the number of people who benefit. Natural light can decrease stress levels, improve vision, and aid in the prevention of conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to pre-diabetes. All of which contributes to a healthier more efficient workplace.
Consider Energy Use Reduction
Because lighting accounts for 19% of overall energy usage in the commercial sector, maximizing hours spent without artificial lighting is essential to efficient daylighting design. When selecting a daylighting system, pay attention to the average hours of light a system can provide. Because many facilities are open for around eight hours of the day, a system which only provides 4-6 hours of sufficient light is far less beneficial that a system which provides light for 10 hours, even if the latter comes with a higher initial price point.