5 Audit Tools

July 3, 2013

Spreadsheet tool: Excel is the gold standard in the industry, says Brian Bridges, president of Lighting Audit Services. Regardless of what tool you use, however, it should allow you to track manufacturer, wattage, fixture age, voltage, and type, the function of each space, and other vital information for hundreds of line items.

In a pinch, you could carry around a paper copy of a spreadsheet with columns listing the types of data you need to collect, adds Gary Markowitz, founder and president of Kilojolts Consulting Group.

You can also find specialized apps that will prompt you for specific information and export the resulting data in Excel or other formats.

“Software tools can accurately capture data. Pieces of information aren’t lost as they are written down on paper, transferred between systems, or interpreted differently by different users,” explains Bill Shadish, principal of Fundamental Objects, a software development consultancy.

Distance measurement tools: This will help you determine the individual square footage of every space, which is vital for determining (and then reducing) watts consumed per square foot, the basis for many financial incentives.

Bernie Erickson, division manager of Facility Solutions Group, includes a digital tape measure for ceiling height and a rolling wheel for square footage of floor space in the $250 audit kits issued to FSG’s Green Squad auditing team.

A laser distance meter is another way to fulfill this need, notes Brian Bridges, president of Lighting Audit Services.

“You can buy them anywhere, and they run about $1 per foot,” Bridges says. “One that shoots about 300 feet for $300 is perfect, though they go up to $15,000 for road survey work.”

Digital camera: “Take a photo of every fixture type. That’s critical,” Bridges notes. “When you’re sitting down and looking at a fixture legend to say ‘We have 150 fixture types, with 10 of these and 1,000 of these,’ it’s best to look at the photo and discuss it with your team. Don’t assume one is pretty much the same as another, just take a photo. That way, if an issue arises, you’ve now limited the potential problem to apples, not oranges.”

Ballast discriminator: This handy tool starts around $50 and allows you to determine whether a ballast is magnetic or electronic without opening the fixture.

Optional tools: If your budget allows, consider investing in small items that will make the job a little easier, Erickson recommends: “Some people like to carry a counter that counts another fixture every time you click it or a set of binoculars to see something far away.”

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