Upgraded lighting in commercial and industrial buildings can be worth far more than its weight in gold, says National Lighting Bureau Executive Director John Bachner. “Upgraded commercial and industrial lighting can quickly pay for itself through reduced energy costs and lower demand charges,” Bachner said, “but that’s only the beginning. We all too often forget that light is for seeing. That’s a simple but important point, because the advanced technology that results in more lighting-energy efficiency can also lead to more human-energy efficiency: When people can see better, they can perform visual tasks faster and with far fewer errors. That translates directly to the kind of enhanced productivity that the Bureau has chronicled in its case-history archive. In a commercial or industrial situation involving, say, 250 people, just a 2% productivity gain could easily be worth $300,000-$500,000 or more annually, and that’s on top of the value of energy and demand savings.”
How to select upgraded lighting? A good place to start is the Lighting-Upgrade Checklist for Commercial & Industrial Buildings developed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA’s) “enlighten America” campaign and now available free through the National Lighting Bureau’s bookshop. Checklist items for all buildings begin with identifying the proper light levels for the tasks, spaces, and people involved. Too little light can compromise visibility and, with it, productivity. Too much light and the result is waste. “Controls can be vitally important in this respect,” Bachner said, “because commercial and industrial workplaces seldom remain static. When the tasks, workers, or work stations change, more or less illumination may be appropriate. Effective controls are the simplest and least expensive way of achieving just what’s needed.” Controls are also effective complements to daylighting, the checklist notes, by providing steady light levels despite daylight-quality changes caused by the time of day or weather.
For industrial buildings and warehouses, the checklist is focused on specific areas, including exits and entrances, open and staging areas, aisles, restrooms, and many others.
“We strongly recommend reliance on professional lighting designers,” Bachner said, “because the stakes involved are so high. Better lighting – what the Bureau calls High-Benefit Lighting© – can improve safety and so reduce accidents that are costly in terms of money and especially the human misery they can create. Fewer accidents can also lead to fewer insurance claims and lower insurance premiums, as can improved security. In other words, the value of lighting can go far, far beyond the genuinely significant utility-bill savings upgrades can provide, especially when the system upgrades are designed to achieve more of the potential High-Benefit Lighting can provide.” The Bureau provides a directory of professional lighting designers at its website.
Established in 1976 to help people make better, more-informed decisions about their lighting, the National Lighting Bureau is an independent, not-for-profit, information source sponsored by professional societies, trade associations, manufacturers, and agencies of the U.S. government, including:
Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES);
Imperial Lighting Maintenance Company;
interNational Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO);
Lighting Controls Association;
Lutron Electronics Company, Inc.;
National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA);
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA);
U.S. General Services Administration; and
For more information about the Bureau, visit its website (www.nlb.org) or contact Bureau staff at [email protected] or 301/587-9572.