Tips for an energy-efficient light design

By Loranne May / Special to Healthcare Facilities Today
March 22, 2017

Electricity is the lifeblood of modern business. There are very few things businesses can do for customers today without electricity. Even buying a pack of gum with pocket change is nearly impossible without electricity to run the cash register. Because of this, commercial buildings of all types consume a tremendous amount of energy, some of which is unnecessary. Energy efficiency has become a growing concern for commercial building owners and businesses as they look for ways to reduce energy consumption for financial and ecological reasons.

Lighting is one of the largest consumers of energy in commercial buildings, making up approximately 10 percent of the total energy usage. For businesses and property owners concerned about the energy efficiency of their facilities, there are ways to reduce the amount of energy that lighting systems consume. By employing energy-conscious lighting design in their offices, stores, warehouses, and production facilities, they can reap significant cost savings and reduce their environmental footprint.  Following are some tips for creating an energy-efficient lighting design for a commercial property that can help contribute to a building that uses less energy while still meeting the needs of employees and customers:

1.  Start with a plan. An efficient lighting design provides the proper amount of light at the proper time in the proper place. High-traffic areas, like lobbies and hallways, require more light than areas like storage rooms that are used less frequently. Additionally, workspaces near windows may not require as much overhead lighting as areas farther away from them.  Making an accurate assessment of how much lighting is required throughout a facility is the first step in creating an energy-efficient design.

2. Take advantage of natural light. One of the best ways to improve energy efficiency is to utilize natural lighting whenever possible. If a property has a lot of windows, the need to use artificial lighting should be much less.  What’s more, a lot of artificial lighting that is used during the day ends up being wasted. This is where developing a light design plan can be helpful, by identifying the areas of a building where natural lighting is strongest. A lighting system also should have controls built into it that allow users to adjust the artificial lighting in accordance with the amount of daylight.

3. Don’t need it? Don’t use it. No matter how energy efficient a lighting system is, the energy is being wasted if no one needs it. In addition to promoting lights being turned off at the end of the day, occupancy sensors can help prevent light and energy from being wasted. Infrequently used areas like bathrooms, storage closets and break rooms should have occupancy sensors to turn lights on when someone enters the room and shut them off after a few minutes of inactivity.

4. Use energy-efficient fixtures. This is perhaps the most obvious tip on this list, but energy-efficient CFL or LED lighting fixtures offer some substantial advantages over traditional lighting. Not only do these lights use less energy to light the same area as incandescent or traditional fluorescent lights, but in most cases they give off less heat. This reduces the need to cool the building in the warmer months. Reducing the burden on a building’s HVAC is an indirect but important way energy-efficient lighting helps reduce the building’s energy consumption. Another benefit is that these lighting systems tend to last much longer than older lighting systems, reducing maintenance costs and maintaining higher efficiency for longer periods of time.

5. Go low-watt whenever possible. Certain types of lighting, especially safety lighting, need to be on 24/7. Although emergency and exit signs are small compared to the rest of a building’s lighting, there are still more efficient options, like LED signs.

A commercial building’s lighting system is a critical component of its operations, and a business can’t function without it. However, lighting doesn’t have to be a major drain on a building’s energy consumption. By following a few tips like those provided above, property owners and tenants can significantly reduce their energy consumption and avoid waste.

Loranne May serves as Marketing Specialist at Connelly Electric

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