Innovations in lighting technologies provide opportunities for lighting upgrades with immediate energy savings and low maintenance operation.
The pressure of balancing aging school buildings and infrastructure with tightening budgets and the need for a healthier learning environment for our children is an issue facing most school districts in our area. Energy costs are a major expense for school districts, in many cases second only to staff salaries. However, well-planned lighting system upgrades can have immediate impact on not only the bottom line, but also student performance and general occupant well-being.
While lighting costs can account for up to 40 percent of a school district’s energy expenses, upgrading lighting and lighting controls can result in immediate energy savings with a short payback period and virtually maintenance-free operation. And, with the latest innovations in lighting technology and a significant reduction in their cost, school districts have never had better opportunities to implement district-wide lighting system upgrades.
Our goals with any lighting system upgrade project are to enhance the quality of the environment, promote the function of interior and exterior spaces, improve occupant experience, and significantly decrease energy consumption and maintenance. To achieve these goals, we put significant effort into designing lighting and lighting control systems tailored to the specific building and site, taking advantage of the latest technology to deliver long-term sustainable solutions. By pairing new efficient LED lighting with daylight harvesting and automatic lighting controls, we maximize energy savings and further enhance occupant comfort.
By now, most people are aware of the benefits of LED lighting technology. Energy efficiency, longer life and less maintenance are the primary reasons LED has become so popular. But, until recently LED was much more expensive than traditional fluorescent lighting. Now, with advancements in LED technology and manufacturing processes, costs have come way down and are comparable to what fluorescent was in its glory days. Upgrading fluorescent, incandescent and metal halide lighting to LED can result in immediate and significant energy savings.
Besides these known benefits of LED lighting, a lesser recognized but much studied benefit of LED lighting is improved occupant health and performance. LED lighting more closely mirrors natural daylight and more evenly distributes full spectrum light and color than other lighting sources, especially fluorescent, making it easier on the eyes while improving visibility and clarity. Better lighting quality equals a healthier learning environment for our children.
The lighting control schemes we provide for our school clients are optimized to achieve flexibility and simplicity, while meeting or exceeding the latest energy codes and standards.
Our first step in designing lighting control systems is to understand the function of each space. Once we know how each space will be used (and illuminated), we then study how much natural light we can harness and use for general illumination. The more natural daylight we can get in to regularly occupied spaces during school hours, the less artificial lighting we need and the healthier the learning environment for students.
On almost all lighting control upgrades in schools, we provide (where possible) daylight harvesting and automatic lighting fixture dimming to maintain light levels throughout the day. We then give teachers and school staff user-friendly controls to manually adjust lighting levels and select lighting scenes to meet their specific needs throughout the day. In addition to daylighting and dimming controls, when spaces are not occupied, automatic controls turn off all non-essential lighting further reducing operating hours and energy consumption.
If you are considering a capital project or energy performance contract for lighting system upgrades in your buildings or on your sites, or are just looking for easily implemented solutions to significantly cut energy costs, CSArch is here to guide you through the process.