What must we achieve?

Lighting in the built environment can be responsible for up to 40% of a building’s electricity costs – and a similarly high proportion of its CO2 emissions. So lighting is an obvious target for those seeking to reduce carbon emissions; but usually only when the costs of implementing the means of reduction will pay for themselves. This explains the attractiveness of some so-called quick wins that ultimately compromise the quality of the original lighting scheme.

Some conversions of existing T8 fluorescent fittings fall into this category where the new light source is optically incompatible with the luminaire’s optics. Or – even more simply – someone just removes one of the lamps of a twin fitting because there seems to be enough light. Reducing light levels – by whatever means – without a proper understanding of the importance of light in the workplace is likely to be expensive in the long run. Poor lighting can lead to reduced productivity, increased errors and unhappy staff; 80% of our sensory input comes through our eyes so good lighting is vital.

But you can still have a payback by investing in good lighting.

When a lighting installation is overtaken by time and technology, and it is obvious that an update is required, the opportunity should be taken to both improve its quality and reduce its emissions. Recent advances, in our understanding of artificial light in the workplace, mean that there should be no need to compromise quality in the interests of energy savings. Finding out about what is now possible, and how it can best be implemented, is therefore an obligation owed to the occupants of any building where a lighting update is being considered. Armed with such knowledge a client can ensure that their new lighting scheme will offer both a lower overall cost of ownership and an improvement in productivity. At the same time the informed client can also avoid the blandishments of some suppliers suggesting a solution supported by exaggerated, or misleading, claims; something which is regrettably happening in some areas of the LED market.

The offices at the Glenmorangie bottling plant in Scotland recently tried a new fluorescent lighting scheme using ‘blue sky’ lamps. The office has now been transformed from a dull, poorly lit space to one which is crisp and bright. As a result, staff now feel better and are much more able to concentrate.  The recent scientific study in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, also concludes exposure to blue enriched white light during daytime work hours improves subjective alertness, performance and evening fatigue. The lamp itself – Philips Activiva – is a T5 product using HF gear and delivering the energy efficiency expected from such solutions.

In more general installations, where more conventional fluorescent lighting is satisfactory, it is now possible to choose long life lamps that last up to 70,000 hours and only lose 10% of output over this life. Together with extended life electronic gear it is now possible to install a fluorescent lighting scheme with much reduced maintenance costs. The addition of controls, to ensure lamps are not used when they are not needed, can further enhance both the energy efficiency and those maintenance intervals.

The lighting world is presently undergoing some dramatic changes with the advent of LEDs and the massive influence of the need to reduce carbon emissions. It is therefore more than ever the responsibility of the lighting industry to inform and educate as effectively as possible, which is why Philips Lighting Academy exists. The PLA runs courses throughout the year that deliver knowledge, not only about the latest lighting products, but also concerning the fundamentals of light and vision. Believing that an informed customer will make the right decisions is the philosophy behind this commitment.

Of course the right decision often meets another barrier; cost, which brings us back to the idea that a lighting installation should be considered in terms of a wise investment. All too often the decision is compromised because the job goes to the lowest bid (i.e. least cost purchase) based on a poor understanding of the specification. Looked at as an investment the project should be assessed in terms of its annual return to the client and as a whole life cost. Only then will the customer be really satisfied.

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