Lighting system upgrades have attracted a great deal of attention within institutional and commercial facilities in recent years as the search for energy savings has intensified. Advances in lighting technology — particularly LEDs — combined with incentives from utilities for facilities to reduce energy use have opened the door for engineering and maintenance managers pursuing opportunities to save.
But lighting upgrades can only deliver the hoped-for benefits if managers and other team members plan the upgrade carefully, understand their technology options, and pay close attention to project costs.
The facility team involved in planning a lighting system upgrade includes parties — including the in-house energy manager and a finance department representative — with a large stake in the project’s success. Lighting designers know, however, that maintenance and engineering managers play a central role on this team.
“When we have a manager who is aware of changes in technology, often that’s a real win-win because they can help us convince the rest of their group why we may need to spend a little more money up front for an LED system or a robust lighting control system,” says Sara Schonour, associate vice president with Cannon Design, an integrated design firm. “They understand what the benefits are going to be on the back end in terms of maintenance and energy bills.”
A manager’s early involvement in the upgrade planning can bring with it information on the facility and its systems that is practical and essential.
“We try to get them to the table as early as possible because they often have that key information they need about facility standards, campus lamp standards, how they use their control systems, how robust they want to go with controls, how much they’re willing to take on in terms of maintaining systems like that,” Schonour says. “They often can be a pivotal influence in what we decide to do. If it’s a fluorescent campus and they’re not interested in changing to LEDs, then we want to know what their lamp and ballast standard is and how they’re using their systems so we can tie in because we’ll have to circle back to them anyway if they say that’s not the kind of technology we’re interested in using. They can really make a decision happen.”
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