Light Right

April 30, 2003
Ten Steps to Better Lighting
Here’s how:1. Optimize energy efficiency. An energy-efficient system is one that consists of appropriate light sources with the highest possible efficacy. For example, fluorescent T8/T5 electronic lamp and ballast systems are more efficient than T12 magnetic systems, and can save up to 40 percent in energy costs. By simply replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps, you can save up to 75 percent in energy costs.2. Consider effects of fixtures on lamp’s ability to deliver light. In some situations, many smaller light sources controlled independently will direct light where and when it is needed.3. Turn out the lights when an area is unoccupied. In areas such as private offices, restrooms, or storage areas, consider using occupancy sensors.4. Make sure you are using the right lighting for the application. Lighting generally falls into these categories:General/Ambient – used as primary lighting system, designed to provide uniform illumination at appropriate footcandle level for a given space.Task – can improve visibility when the right fixtures are selected and positioned to minimize veiling reflections and glare.Wash/display – used to accentuate merchandise and artwork, or to highlight walls.Decorative – used to draw attention, even graze a wall for a desired effect.Emergency/egress – includes back-up lighting systems in case of power outage, lighted exit signs, and lighting for wayfinding.5. Make sure you are using the right lighting for the task. Having appropriate lighting so workers and customers can be productive, comfortable, and motivated is key. Consider the steps in the sidebar (below).6. Be sensitive to effects of bad lighting. Be attuned to the effects of your lighting and ensure it is suitable for your employees and customers. With employees, bad lighting may be indicated by complaints, bad attitudes, headaches, backaches, and poor posture; with customers, it may result in a loss of a sale or a complete loss of business.7. Weigh cost benefits of spot vs. group relamping. Spot replacement of failed lamps can be time-consuming and expensive. Group relamping can reduce maintenance costs. Changing out “groups” of lamps simultaneously during off-peak hours will minimize disruptions.8. Maintain light output of lighting systems. Schedule luminaire cleaning and ongoing preventive maintenance work on a periodic basis. Can be done as part of a group relamping program.9. Consider a lighting audit to optimize the effectiveness of your lighting plan. If you have any questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of your lighting systems, you should consult with experts who specialize in lighting services.10. Optimize the aesthetic values of lighting in your environment. There are a wide range of lighting system options for facility managers to use that are not only efficient, but can carry the image they want to project.Cheryl Ford is manager of commercial engineering for Danvers, MA-based OSRAM Sylvania (

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