As our society has become increasingly conscious of our effects on the world around us, sustainability has become an important part of everyday life. Sustainable design has become the norm, rather than being unique and unusual. Although this design is much more common now, effective design is still difficult—especially in the field of lighting. Below are seven tips to help ensure the most effective sustainable lighting design in your facility.
1. Determine Best Light Level
Determining the optimal lighting level for your facility is extremely important. Too little light makes it difficult to perform tasks, while too much light creates glare and unnecessarily elevated energy bills. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America provides lighting guidelines for many different workplaces to help ensure the optimal level of lighting for whatever tasks employees are performing.
2. Know Your Limitations
The specific limitations of your facility can have a major effect on what lighting systems you integrate. Industrial skylights are well suited to illuminating wide open spaces, but factors like multi-story buildings, closed in areas, and ceiling level obstructions all create issues. These are areas where specialized skylights or artificial lighting is more effective. They also present the opportunity to use less intrusive daylighting, such as light shelves or specially coated windows.
3. Be Aware of Visual Design
Lighting and visual design often go hand in hand, and because visual appearance is the first way someone judges your facility, you want to put your best foot forward. Many artificial lighting devices have a red or blue color bias, so it is important to plan around this to ensure your design appears correctly. Also, diffused light can help to make spaces appear both cleaner and more spacious by eliminating shadows at the edges of rooms and objects.
4. Minimize HVAC Strain
Keeping heating and cooling costs low can be challenging, especially in large facilities. While the building itself can be insulated, making sure your sustainable lighting design helps minimize HVAC strain is an important part of making your facility sustainable. For skylights this means finding a system with the lowest Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and U-value, to minimize heat transference. For artificial lighting, it means paying close attention to the efficiency of your system, to ensure it is not generating excess waste heat.
5. Consider Workplace Safety
Workplace safety is another major concern in sustainable lighting design, particularly for industrial facilities. Bright diffuse lighting in areas where heavy machinery is operated can prevent injuries by increasing visibility and edge detection. In the case of one company, Prince Street Technologies, replacing their outdated artificial lighting with daylighting resulted in a major decrease in worker’s compensation suits due to injury.
6. Design Around Occupant Health
The best sustainable lighting design ensures not just the planet’s health, but human health as well. Spending too many hours under dim lighting, or exposed to high-blue spectrum light, can weaken the immune system and contribute to insomnia and seasonal affective disorder. Make sure to provide workers with diffused, broad-spectrum light. This can aid in the prevention of many ailments including prediabetes, seasonal affective disorder, multiple sclerosis, and rickets.
7. Integrate Natural & Artificial Light
One of the best ways to ensure the most effective sustainable lighting design is to combine natural and artificial light sources. This allows large public areas to be illuminated at minimal cost, while smaller, less accessible areas still receive light. Also, because even the best daylighting systems can only provide around 10.5 hours per day of light, integrating efficient artificial lighting can allow a facility to run 24/7 while still minimizing its environmental impact.