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Lighting Trends: Lighting Decisions

Written by Trends Contributor. Posted in Energy, Environment, Featured Post, In-Depth Articles, Interiors, Magazine, Recycling, Topics, Trends

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Published on April 26, 2013 with 1 Comment

Photo: Jack Hollingsworth

Photo: Jack Hollingsworth

By Doug Baillie
From the April 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

The cost of energy is not disappearing from the news, and today’s facility managers (fms) are on the front line of this important issue. “In these economically uncertain times, what we can be certain of is energy savings provided by today’s energy efficient technologies. Regardless of fiscal cliffs and sequesters, reducing energy costs and improving lighting quality—which creates high occupancy rates and increases worker productivity—will be the way the U.S. economy gets growing again and how American businesses will stay globally competitive,” advises Keith T.S. Ward, President & CEO of Luminus Devices, Inc., a Billerica, MA based maker of LED lighting.

In a February 2013 survey, TFM readers were asked about their recent and future lighting plans. In keeping with TFM’s reader profile, the majority of respondents represented high level decision makers. Thirty one percent indicated they make the final decision on lighting upgrades, and another 30% prepare the final proposal.

In terms of organization type, 78% of respondents manage commercial or institutional facilities, and 13% manage manufacturing buildings. Retail and other industries (e.g., worship, financial, arts/cultural) were also represented.

While 76% of respondents manage over 50,000 square feet of interior space (28.4% of those overseeing more than 500,000 square feet), 71% manage buildings older than 15 years, with 38% of that group managing facilities older than 30 years.

The canopy at the entrance of Arkansas Children’s Hospital featured 100 watt mercury vapor downlights, creating an undesirable greenish hue. These were replaced with LED lighting—30 watt, 2000 lumen retrofit downlights (seen at right). Photo: LumenOptix

The canopy at the entrance of Arkansas Children’s Hospital featured 100 watt mercury vapor downlights, creating an undesirable greenish hue. These were replaced with LED lighting—30 watt, 2000 lumen retrofit downlights (seen at right). Photo: LumenOptix

A recent analysis by McKinsey & Company and the International Energy Agency declared that lighting retrofits are the most cost-efficient way to combat climate change, save on power bills, and control expenses. So, what are fms thinking right now about lighting, and what are their plans to save energy and reduce operating costs? And what is the status of the lighting systems at their facilities?

Using TFM’s recent survey as a representative sample, 22% of America’s facilities have never undergone any type of lighting upgrade, or it has been more than 10 years since work has been done. If the University of Michigan estimate of five million commercial facilities in the U.S. is correct, that means 1.1 million are in serious need of new lighting systems. However, survey respondents also shared that 40% of their facilities had undergone lighting renovations within the last three years, down from 45% in a 2012 survey conducted by TFM. Meanwhile, 56% said they planned to renovate within the next three years, about the same as in the 2012 survey.

Fms have been paying attention to lighting issues, and their objectives for upgrading and renovating these systems are valid. As illustrated in Chart 1 below, the top four objectives that were rated “Very Important” in the survey were: reduce energy usage and costs (85.8%); lower maintenance costs (70.6%); improve light levels (51%); and increase occupant satisfaction (49.5%). This coincides with the fact that about half of respondents declared that lighting accounts for 20% to 40% of their electric bills.

Source Of Illumination

Linear fluorescent lighting is still the most prevalent interior light source, used in 86% of the survey respondents’ facilities. The most common lighting upgrade has been the change from outdated T12 bulbs to T8 (now used by 67% of fms responding to the survey). Compact fluorescent (CFL) lighting is used in 78% of buildings. The energy hogs, incandescent and halogen, are used in 49% and 36% of facilities respectively. Interior use of LEDs, which garner a good deal of current conversations about lighting, rose from 46% to 50% from the 2012 TFM survey. (See Chart 2 for more information.)

Outdoors, for wayfinding and security lighting, metal halide is the most preferred light source at 58.2%, followed by high pressure sodium (51%). New metal halide technology, featuring bright white light and increased energy efficiency, is clearly becoming more attractive to facility professionals. And LED usage moved from 24% (in the 2012 survey) to 30.6%, a significant increase driven by the increasing availability of outdoor retrofit lighting products. (Again, see Chart 2 for more information.)

Overall, 60% of those surveyed stated LEDs are used in some manner at their facilities. These are most commonly found in sign lighting (45%); exterior lighting (43%); and lobby lighting (39%). About one-third of responding fms stated they thought LEDs were too expensive or the technology was too new to specify. Very few were unaware of LED lighting, and 20% reported receiving a quote for LED lighting that was too high.

Light Control

In parallel with LEDs, lighting control technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Wireless dimming and control systems, including individual space control, can play a greater role in reducing energy use and improving the quality of light. Although 59% of the survey respondents said they use a “lighting management system,” the vast majority, more than 70%, employ sophisticated lighting control (multi-level switching and continuous dimming) in less than 25% of their space. The types of controls used are: motion sensors (71%); time switches (52%); and daylighting controls (35%). And 27% reported using a building automation system with integrated lighting controls.

Load shedding, a type of demand response, and called by some the evil twin of new lighting technology, is sometimes an option to reduce energy use, particularly where utility rates are high. In the survey, 14% of fms declared they have signed up to reduce demand in emergency situations, 18% say they are considering it, but 61% say they are not. The viability of load shedding is driven primarily by facility type, but as budget pressures increase fms should look at every option to avoid cost.

Missed Opportunity?

It appears the greatest lost opportunity in the history of facility management is that only 6% of responding fms report they have taken advantage of the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (CBTD), and one third did not know about this federal incentive. Still, 40% stated they plan to take advantage of the deduction during 2013.

Part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (extended in 2008), the CBTD will expire at the end of 2013. It remains to be seen whether or not it will be replaced with similar legislation. (The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is working with the U.S. Senate on the Commercial Buildings Modernization Act.)

If the CBTD is extended, 30% of survey respondents indicated they would consider pursuing the deduction. The legislation provides for up to $.60/ square foot for lighting upgrades, and NEMA reports that many fms see paybacks of less than one year. When it comes to simple payback, 61% of survey respondents said they need a payback of less than three years, and 46% said the return on investment needs to be 25% or less.

Twin T5 Fluorescents: The Other Solid State Lighting

By Larry Leetzow, IES, CIE, IDA and William Kent Schoenfisch, MBA, IES, DL 

Although LEDs are widely regarded now as the latest in low energy, long life lighting technology, this solid state lighting source was first noted in 1907 by senior Marconi Laboratories scientist Henry J. Round. He found that “a bright glow” was emitted from “raw silicon-carbide crystals and other substances” when heated, for possible use with diode detectors in early radios. No other notices of semiconductor light emissions were published until the mid-1920s when self-educated Russian scientist Oleg Losov made written note of emitted light from zinc oxide semiconductor diode detectors for the more advanced radios of those years.

Fast forward to 1951 when William Shockley, famed Bell Laboratories scientist and theoretician, applied for a patent with two other non-Bell scientists for infrared LEDs made of semiconducting silicon and germanium materials. In 1962, Dr. Nickolas Holonyak of GE developed an infrared, semiconductor based, low energy laser light. (He subsequently was known as “the father of the LED” through smart public relations by GE, and deep red LEDs are still produced today using Holonyak’s type of laser light semiconductor material.)

So by 1987, 80 years after their initial reported discovery, LEDs had been developed sufficiently by a range of scientists and manufacturers to begin to replace incandescent light bulbs in brake lights, traffic lights, and in limited ambient/accent commercial lighting. Today, uses and improvements for LEDs are occurring rapidly for general lighting applications.

Highly energy efficient, twin T5 lighting meets many facility managers’ objectives. Shown here are multiple lighthead, pole mounted luminaires. Photo: Magnaray

Highly energy efficient, twin T5 lighting meets many facility managers’ objectives. Shown here are multiple lighthead, pole mounted luminaires. Photo: Magnaray

Caution, however, and proper source selection should be considered for any lighting application. Facility managers (fms) should note that in 1990, low watt, rather bright induction lamp technology was introduced. It, too, was characterized generally at the time as the “next greatest thing” in energy saving, long life, high performance lighting. However, induction lamps quickly proved very costly, complex, and of limited applications and fixture adaptability. Promotion of these declined after an initial burst, although they are still available.

In 1993, practical high brightness, low watt LEDs were developed and combined with white light LEDs (created in 1991). This presented a new type of more broadly applicable LED from which certain light fixture manufacturers and their customers could ostensibly benefit for new construction, renovation, and retrofit projects.

Many fixture manufacturers could then offer a new series of compact, higher lumen, white and colored LED light sources around which to create more compact fixtures. The rest is history judging by the veritable flood of new LED only light source manufacturers; of older and also increasingly new domestic U.S. and Asian based fixture manufacturers; and of rapidly growing applications for LEDs in the facility marketplace, not least of which include relatively less costly, less time consuming renovations and retrofits.

But still later in the 1990s—and somewhat overlooked now, new linear type, narrower-gauge, lower watt, longer life twin T5 series fluorescent light sources were first developed. These have solid state anodes and cathodes, and today also use solid state electronic ballasts to operate as an integral system, as with LEDs. Twin T5 technology could be considered in the very least as “the other” solid state electronic lighting, substantially comparable in virtually every way to LED equipped fixtures for new construction, renovation, or often simple retrofit installations. All adaptive lighting techniques that fms want or need can be achieved with twin T5s, as can be done with LED systems.

When studied objectively and a rudimentary cost/benefit analysis conducted, current twin tube T5 fluorescent fixtures often exceed LED fixtures by every critical measure (e.g., light output, lumen levels, total performance; initial purchase cost of sources and fixtures; universal contractor familiarity and experience with fluorescents; ease of installation; long operating life; eventual replacement cost; and substantial energy savings.

Additionally, mercury content in T5 series fluorescents is now miniscule compared to earlier fluorescents and is 100% reclaimable. Such recyclability is stipulated in an energy bill currently in U.S. Congress. And it is often overlooked that LEDs contain some hazardous materials.

So, fms might ask, why do LEDs tend to dominate lighting industry news and not twin tube T5s? Linear type T5 fluorescent lighting technology essentially overlapped with high brightness LED technology and with the still rapidly growing number of indoor and outdoor T5, T5HO, and newer T8 fixture designs. As a result, T5 series lamp technology was eclipsed by large multi-technology light source manufacturers themselves that turned to focus on LEDs.

There have been multiple studies in just the last several years that substantiate the efficacy of twin T5 series fluorescents. The studies affirm the more favorable lighting performance and economics, in both the short- and long-term. This is true for any interior or exterior application.

Until recently LED chip makers would only provide three year warranties. Now there are five year warranties, with a few offering 10 year warranties. Meanwhile, twin T5 fluorescent systems have been in use for more than 12 years without relamping, which equals 50,000 plus hours of use. Fms should also note twin T5s have 90% lumens maintained versus 70% for LEDs.

Research and statements from the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that LEDs will continue to mature, peaking in 2019-2020, so fms should keep that in mind when evaluating lighting projects. There is some good sense in using proven technology, since decision making without all the facts can be a costly endeavor.

Leetzow is President of Magnaray International, a lighting manufacturer based in Bradenton, FL. He devotes his career to many original lighting fixture designs and applications. After five years of research and LED product review, along with improvements in LED chip and driver design, Magnaray now offers a choice of twin T5 or LED sources.

Schoenfisch is now in his 46th year in writing about commercial light sources, fixtures, and their applications.

Lighting upgrade investments are a great use of cash, particularly when interest rates are low. With that said, there is still time in 2013, and if a lighting renovation can be completed, the project may be eligible for the CBTD.

Financial Incentives & Support

Federal, state, and local tax incentives as well as utility programs are commonly available to help pay for lighting projects.

In addition to that federal program, many local utilities offer financial incentives to offset the cost of lighting upgrades and addition of load shedding equipment. Indicated in the survey, 61% of fms work with utilities that offer these incentives, and 50% say they plan to apply for incentives. And 22% have used incentives in the past.

The Green Pocketbook

This TFM survey concluded with questions about the relative importance of energy efficiency (with the resulting cost savings) and environmental impact. There, 51% of fms declared that energy efficiency is most important when it comes to their decisions about lighting upgrades, and 39% said environmental impact and energy efficiency were equally important. Only 2% said environmental impact was most important.

Regarding LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), 5% of the respondents’ buildings were certified, 17% of fms said they were considering LEED certification, and 71% said they were not considering it.

TFM’s 2013 market research results were succinctly wrapped up by Michael Jouaneh, manager of sustainability and standards for Coopersburg, PA-based Lutron Electronics. “Lighting is the largest user of energy in commercial buildings,” he says. “So it’s important that building executives manage their lighting to save energy and money.”

Baillie held senior communications management posts at Siemens and Acuity Brands Lighting during a career that spanned four decades. He is still involved with several organizations in the lighting industry including NEMA and the National Lighting Bureau.

About Trends Contributor

Trends features take a detailed look at some of the significant product related news that will be shaping the selection process for facility managers in the future. To read more Trends articles, visit this link.

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  1. Great article – unfortunately the pricing on LEDs is not quite financially viable yet, plus they emit a considerable amount of heat.

    Short to mid term solution is T5 lighting and the T5 retrofit lighting adapter.

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