One of the major concerns building managers deal with is keeping the budget down while maintaining high quality design. The issue with this is that often reducing costs too much can mean harming the potential sustainability of a facility. It is important to avoid cutting corners if you want to maximize the efficiency of your facility. Here are a few ways that cost-reduction attempts can actually increase costs in the long run.
Investing in Cheap LEDs
While LED lighting is an up-and-coming sustainable lighting solution, investing in cheap LED products can actually mitigate some of the benefits they are meant to produce in the first place. First off, many cheaper products employ low-quality control chips which contribute to the loss of intensity over time. While the average lifespan of an LED lamp is around 50,000 hours, many lamps lose intensity over time, sometimes producing only 80% of their original output after just 8,000 hours. Because they need to be replaced after their intensity drops below 70% efficiency, this can contribute to increased repair costs.
Low Quality Artificial Light
Another distinctive issue which designers face when cutting corners by integrating cheap LEDs or other artificial lighting is the poor overall light quality. Many of these solutions produce excess blue spectrum light, or produce light which intermittently flickers. Because our bodies associate blue spectrum light with daylight, it directly affects our ability to produce melatonin, the neurotransmitter which controls sleep. This can result in workplace lighting which leaves occupants drained and unfocused. Flickering can also contribute to these issues. Because our eyes attempt to adjust to even the smallest changes in light, rapid change can contribute to repetitive eye strain and stress induced migraines. These effects are so profound that studies show replacing artificial lighting with natural light is capable of increasing productivity by 6-16%.
Because most traditional skylights are essentially horizontal windows in the roof of a building, they face a few distinct issues. First, they allow more light to escape and penetrate the building envelope. According to the U.S. Consumer Energy Center, skylights that are not designed to avoid heat gain absorb as much as four times the heat that windows do and lose 35-45% more heat from skylights than windows during the winter months. Cutting costs when investing in skylights also has the potential to result in inconsistent light quality. Because many systems do not actively bring light into the building, but instead passively allow it to enter, they only provide adequate light for between 4-6 hours per day. Replacing these inefficient skylights with more modern, active daylighting can increase these daily hours of quality lighting to 10.5+.