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Another major error that facility managers can make with regard to exterior lighting is not servicing lamps. "No matter how good a lamp is, it will get bugs and dirt in it, and there needs to be an annual inspection process where lamps are cleaned, inspected, and put back into service," Salmon says. He notes that about 40 to 45 percent of properties his company inspects have lamps that are malfunctioning, meaning they are performing far below standard or are burned out. Acrylic lenses become yellowed, and lamps can have bugs, dirt, or birds' nests in them.
Because it is expensive to get a bucket truck to repair pole lights, facility managers often wait for individual lamps to burn out instead of scheduling maintenance once or twice a year for all fixtures. According to Salmon, the latter route is a cheaper and more efficient way to maintain exterior lighting. Monahan says that a good standard of practice is to replace lights when they are at 70 percent of their rated life, which is another reason for scheduling regular maintenance.
Doing inspections during the day is another common mistake made by facility managers. "Environments are very different at night," Ross notes, "and fixtures perform differently." Shadows and places of concealment are not visible by day. Unfortunately, most maintenance done for large retail businesses takes place during the daytime, Ross says, although it's important to identify the quality of lighting at night. Moreover, the only way to determine whether the lights are in compliance with safety requirements is to conduct a nocturnal inspection. Failure to do so can result in a sense of false security, which can lead to problems down the road — in the form of injury or liability.
The numerous technical issues that must be addressed to ensure compliance with guidelines and to create optimal exterior lighting make in worthwhile for facility managers to consider hiring experts, in the form of lighting designers or security consultants.
Maryellen Lo Bosco is a freelance writer who covers facility management and technology. She is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management.
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