12 Ultra-Efficient Lighting Strategies

Innovative solutions from real projects

By Janelle Penny

5) Enable Multitasking
Take your lighting control system a step further by adding extra functionality. LinkedIn uses individually controllable fixtures coupled with sensors that monitor occupancy, daylight levels, and temperature. It also allows real-time conference room booking.

“We’re looking at utilizing that data to match unoccupied spaces with selection criteria on what room you need,” adds McReynolds.

6) Customize Control
Offering as much individual control as possible cuts down on complaints and requests for adjustments, Pease notes. Making controls visible helped users at Paladino tailor their own spaces further on top of the task-specific customization in place.

“We realized that it would best serve our renovation if we used all of the different control strategies out there and selected the best one for each fixture. That means we have vacancy sensors, occupancy sensors, photocells, and time clock controls on a few fixtures because we know how our users would use the space, how we collaborate and hold team meetings, and how we hold office functions,” explains Pease. “That approach took a little more design time because we really had to think through the process of how someone uses a space, what happens in the morning and at night, what happens when someone walks by, and so on. In the end, the system is cheaper and more intuitive to use.”

If individual control isn’t feasible, consider borrowing LinkedIn’s strategy of simplifying lighting management on the FM side.

“Being a startup at the time with a relatively small support service organization, we were spending a lot of time going out every day when people would say their spaces were too bright or not bright enough,” says McReynolds about LinkedIn’s early days. “We’d have to go remove a bulb from a fixture or add supplemental lighting. Now if it’s not bright enough, we can go into the system and increase the power settings on the light above their desk without having to go out and do anything in person.”

7) Optimize Other Building Systems
Don’t forget to account for your lighting system’s impact on HVAC and other systems. More wattage means more heat, extra cooling demand, and higher energy costs from the increased HVAC workload.

“In theaters with a lot of halogen stage lighting, for example, the lights get very hot very fast simply because there are so many watts of energy pouring out into the space,” explains Latchford. “However, in very efficient spaces, people have found that some of the air-conditioned areas are far too cool now, especially spaces that were significantly overlit or used to have more incandescent lighting.”

Paladino moved into a building with no air conditioning, bringing the heat issue front and center. The team needed to get as close to zero heat produced in the space as possible.

“We looked at all of our lights as heat sources – the more heat sources we can remove from each space, the more comfortable we’ll be,” says Pease. “We were very judicious about having lights in spaces and installing smart controls at the fixture rather than at a central unit so that the lighting could be highly specialized in each space.”

8) Hit the Books
For a good foundation in efficiency – lighting and otherwise – look into green building certifications even if you don’t plan to have your building certified, recommends Scott Kelly, principal of Re:Vision Architecture. Re:Vision worked with Latchford’s firm Lam Partners on a 10,000-square-foot commercial interiors fit-out for Jones Lang LaSalle’s Philadelphia office, which occupies one floor of a 1950s-era office building.

That project earned LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors, but the manuals for other certifications also detail useful strategies. FM professionals would likely benefit most from O&M-focused certifications, Kelly says.

“The best advice I can give a facilities person is to spend $200, buy the reference guide for LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance, and use the strategies to make your building better,” adds Kelly. “After you’ve tried three or four strategies, you’ll realize how easy and smart it is. That applies to both lighting and general operation.”

Also solicit ideas from colleagues in other facilities, suggests Charlie Popeck, president of Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants, a green design consultancy whose clients include General Dynamics and Intel.

“Ask other FMs about their experience with similar buildings. That’s the whole purpose of organizations like IFMA and BOMA, interacting with your peers to see how they’re doing,” Popeck says.

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