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November 17, 2017
By Scott Tapia An improving economy, more competitive marketplace, and environmental concerns have made it much harder for maintenance and engineering managers to continue to satisfy occupants and keep buildings occupied. But to remain successful in this dynamic environment, managers need to do just that. Updated lighting can be the answer. Why? A well-lit facility is more aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, and safe, making it more attractive to tenants. And the new high-efficiency lighting technology is much more reliable, energy efficient, and cost effective than before, which aligns it with corporate and occupant mandates and initiatives. Because it is such a great way to improve the brand and reduce costs, LED and other high-efficiency lighting retrofits have become very popular with property owners and managers. But most are under the impression these retrofits mean no more lighting maintenance. For managers planning an LED retrofit, it is essential to include a regular maintenance plan to amplify the benefits of the investment and provide extra value. Maintenance myth dispelled Because LED manufacturers have done a good job promoting the benefits of the technology, there is a myth that LEDs last forever with no maintenance. Unfortunately, it is just not true. LED technology is more efficient, reliable, durable, and longer-lasting than traditional lighting. Its lifespan can be 4-10 times that of traditional lighting. This makes LED lighting much easier and less expensive to maintain, as users experience fewer outages and incur lower costs for labor and materials. Despite all this, a lighting system still needs regular upkeep to operate at full potential, and a lighting expert will always suggest a preventive maintenance program as part of a lighting system upgrade. 5 reasons for lighting maintenance Managers should consider five reasons that regular maintenance for LED and other high-efficiency lighting to be a best practice: Maximize savings. Managers want to get value from a lighting upgrade. This includes maximum energy use and cost savings, operating and maintenance cost savings, and optimized lighting quality. To derive the greatest value out of the investment, lights need to be working at peak performance at all times. While LEDs do not burn out like fluorescent lamps and other bulbs, over time the diode begins to emit less light, affecting quality and energy efficiency. Dirt build-up also can reduce light and energy efficiency levels. Cleaning a fixture can improve lighting output from the diodes and lenses as well as assist with keeping the heat management features of the fixtures clear of debris and buildup. And proactively making sure fixtures are adjusted and working correctly optimizes performance and ensures you are getting the savings and quality you paid for and expect. Extend equipment life. Depending on many factors, on average the lifetime of most LEDs is around 50,000 hours. They can last up to 100,000 hours, but this does not mean the light will last that long. There is much more to lighting systems than just the diodes, and the lifetime is related to these other components. Failures of internal components will occur. These failures generally include internal drivers, surge protectors, and integrated motion sensors. Regularly scheduled site visits to verify all components are in proper working order can prevent failures. This step is key to reducing unplanned downtime and maintenance costs and exposing the organization to liability and risks, thereby maximizing equipment life span. Enhance safety and security. Without proper maintenance, lamps still might come on, but light levels can be 50 percent lower than those the system was intended to produce. Component also can fail, and both of these issues can jeopardize the safety and security of occupants. Ensuring that lighting quality is always at optimum levels and preventing failures before they occur reduces safety and security incidents and elevates the brand. This can lead to improved client satisfaction and reduced turnover. Reduce risk and liability. If lighting on the property is not working properly and someone falls or is a victim of crime, the facility could be liable. And a lawsuit can damage the organization’s reputation and can cost thousands or even millions of dollars. A regular maintenance program can protect the organization from such litigation. One ABM client was experiencing this exact issue. The client was able to use the maintenance contract and electronic records in court to show it was proactively trying to prevent safety and security incidents on the property. With this proof of maintenance, it was held not liable, and the case was dismissed. Improve return on investment (ROI). Reactive maintenance is the most costly way to care for a lighting system. It results in more unplanned downtime, higher repair and replacement costs, and less energy savings. All of these results negatively affect the ROI of the entire lighting upgrade project that the organization was banking on when first retrofitting or replacing existing lighting assets with LEDs. Proactive maintenance reduces costs in the long run through minimized business disruption, occupant complaints, and fewer rush charges. It also boosts ROI by preventing failures, optimizing light levels and efficiency, reducing safety and security risks, and maximizing energy savings. Relying on experts Just like the right lighting system for an application is essential to achieving maximum benefit and ROI, having a customized maintenance plan is equally as important. But with so many options to choose from, it can be confusing. It is best to enlist the help of a lighting expert. A qualified partner will be certified, have a great deal of experience and knowledge, be vendor neutral, and have safety as the top priority. They also should use state-of-the-art technology, tools, and processes to evaluate current lighting systems and determine unique lighting maintenance needs and goals. Working collaboratively as a trusted advisor, the lighting expert should be able to develop and implement a proactive service solution designed to ensure optimal lighting quality at all times, enhance savings, increase energy efficiency, and make maintenance much easier. While high-efficiency LED lighting technology has desirable longevity and cost and energy saving benefits for facilities, it does require best practice care and upkeep to ensure optimized performance and the greatest value for the investment dollars. Scott Tapia is the Southern California regional sales manager for ABM Industries, www.abm.com/electrical.