How To Maximize Your Lighting
Awise man once gave me some precious advice early in my career: “Make critical business decisions as though it were your own company.”
Think about that for a few minutes. Consider the last car
you purchased. Was it the cheapest car on the market, or
something more mid-range in price but safe and reliable with
exceptional gas mileage? You were careful in spending your
hard-earned dollars and spending your company’s money
should be no different. If you are about to make a significant
investment in a lighting retrofit, relight or redesign, perform-
ing your due diligence will help you develop the right lighting
solutions that will ensure you achieve your lighting and finan-
Your Team. First you need to evaluate your lighting team.
Does it feature a qualified professional with relevant experience
and credentials? Do you see LC, CLMC, CSLC, CLEP, CEM,
CDSM or LEED-AP O+M after any names? You will be swimming upstream out of the gate if your answer is “no.”
Retrofit vs. Relight vs. Redesign. What is the best solution
for your facility? The correct response is the most common
answer to any lighting question: “It depends.” First, some elementary definitions of the three lighting R’s as they pertain to
lighting efficiency upgrades:
• Retrofit — converting an existing fixture to a more current
lighting technology, or using a more efficient generation of
the same technology.
• Relight — a “one-for-one” fixture replacement without
relocating installation points, generally using a more efficient technology and adding controls.
• Redesign — replacement of the existing system with new
energy efficient fixtures and changing the fixture layout to
best suit the lighting requirements of each space. Redesigns
commonly include both daylighting and occupancy controls.
Which is Best? It Depends! Here's your starter list of ques-
tions to consider:
• Is the facility owned or leased?
• How many years do you plan to stay at the facility?
• How old is the existing lighting system and is it fully
• What are the light level goals for each space?
• Are there any areas that require a higher CRI lighting system (CRI or R96a)?
• What is the minimum and maximum ambient temperature
for each space?
• What are the hours of operation for each space and how
often is the space vacant during normal operating hours?
• Is project approval based on a certain ROI threshold? If so,
how many years?
• What is more important to your financial decision makers?
A shorter ROI or a lower 10-year cost of ownership?
If your consultants aren't working with you to get these
answers up front, chances are they aren’t looking out for your
best interests and your solution will ultimately fall short.
Rebates and Tax Deductions. This is a topic worthy of a
conversation under a separate cover. Do your homework and
find out what rebates are available for retrofits and new fixture
options. Make sure to find out if the products being proposed
in the solution get you the best rebate. There is a lot of nuance
here, and rebates can differ by product selection.
Also, your tax liability and sustainability goals are relevant
here. Would an energy efficient design that qualifies you for an
EPAct deduction ($0.60 PSF) be applicable here?
By Mark Bryan