The Costs Surrounding Lighting Upgrades

Advances in LEDs allow luminaires to do so much more than just light up a room.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Pros and Cons of Lighting UpgradesPt. 2: This Page

It can be difficult to receive approval for a lighting upgrade as the upfront cost is more expensive than older technology. A full lighting redesign is not cost-effective in a layout where existing fixtures are still satisfactory after a professional audit. Tortorello says his company uses a photometric layout to propose the wattage and light distribution to provide the best uniform illumination for the space.  

“A lighting retrofit is typically a 1-for-1 replacement,” says Tortorello. “However, a lighting redesign considers a host of factors such as assessing the qualitative aspects of the design and exploring potential improvements to lighting quality while saving energy. A retrofit project doesn’t require meeting new industry codes and often, due to budget constraints, facility managers and building owners want to keep a 1-for-1 ratio rather than implementing a redesign and increasing the number of luminaires.” 

Sometimes, redesigning is inevitable. To get the C-suite on your side, Tortorello suggests using return-on-investment calculators to help show the payback of the project. In addition, managers may get approval to upgrade only one area to provide proof of concept before upgrading an entire facility. Regardless of the project size, the savings from an upgrade to more efficient technology are the same. The benefits of an LED lighting upgrade also provide access to utility rebates, providing further financial advantages. 

“The facilities team should also consider a proof of concept before moving forward with an upgrade,” Tortorello says. “Additionally, having a beta installation with a few luminaires helps end-users literally see what the product and the illumination will be like.” 

Meanwhile, both quantitative and qualitative benefits are excellent points to make when talking to the C-suite about a potential upgrade. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, parking lots and garages account for over 10 percent of all property offenses. Parking lots and garages are also the third most common location of violent crimes nationwide. In 2020, over 45,000 violent crimes occurred in a parking garage or lot, according to data from the Crime Data Explorer. However, a study by the Campbell Collaboration found that crime rates significantly decrease when proper area lighting is installed.  

“A lighting redesign for a parking garage may entail running new conduit/pipe and wiring, coupled with extensive installation labor time,” Tortorello says. “An outdoor parking lot redesign has many factors that need to be considered, which may include poor placement of light poles and their relation to the building, and the illumination reaching parking surface and walkways. While these are challenges, the installation of additional poles, fixtures and wiring to improve the lighting would be significant expenses to the property owner but will also make it safer.” 

Advances in LEDs allow luminaires to do so much more than just light up a room. The most important reason to replace your lighting is if it no longer supports the purpose for which it was designed.  

“The features that resonate for many building operation professionals will, of course, be fixture lifetime, and cost savings garnered from energy efficiency, maintenance and disposal,” says Guillien. “Good lighting supports the needs of the occupants and creating a more comfortable environment.” 

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor for the facilities market.  

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  posted on 5/11/2023   Article Use Policy

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