Lighting Upgrades Aren't a Flip of the Switch

FacilitiesNet

The promises of energy savings and better lighting are strong motivators for facility executives to undertake an upgrade. Too often, though, inattention at various stages of the upgrade process keeps benefits from being realized.

Consider one job where a contractor simply replaced lamps and ballasts without verifying if existing lighting levels were appropriate. Because the existing fixtures had previously been delamped by 50 percent, a dismally lit facility remained uncorrected, greatly disappointing occupants who had been complaining about it for years. In another case, a contractor's bid was based on a quick examination of the space that missed many locked rooms and assumed some three-lamp fixtures used four lamps. Final costs were higher and wattage savings lower than projected, resulting in a much longer payback.

Those two upgrade horror stories show how important it is to pay attention to the details of the upgrade process. At the front end of the process, a contractor's audit method including forms and procedures should be examined during bid review. It is not uncommon to require, for example, that one of each fixture type be opened and photographed as part of a bid submission, and that foot-candle levels (with lights on and off) be taken in all rooms. Alternately, an independent lighting audit may be performed and used as a basis to judge the veracity of contractor claims. It should include interviews and surveys of occupants to adjust lighting levels to better match the tasks taking place. Major savings are often lost simply by replicating existing levels (e.g., excessively high levels where computer monitors proliferate, or in corridors).

Recycling Old Lamps

After installing efficient, new lamps the old lamps need to be recycled in order to keep their hazardous mercury content out of the environment and human food sources. Air Cycle solutions make it simple, and can improve facility efficiency by minimizing the risk of fines and facility mercury-related health issues. Learn more » Air Cycle lamp recycling solutions
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