Case Histories: Industrial/Warehousing
Upgrade and Clean Those Lights for Profits
Energy-efficient systems offer many benefits
By Robert Colgan, Jr.
Facility managers across the country are busy upgrading their lighting systems to reduce energy consumption and save money. In many cases this is the wrong thing to do. Not because there’s anything wrong with saving energy. In fact, energy conservation has been a national priority for years, and is absolutely the right thing to do.
Energy-efficient lighting systems benefit cleaning and facility managers in a number of ways, including reducing the severity and frequency of slip-and-fall accidents, improving the appearance of a facility, and adding to operating and maintenance cost savings.
What is wrong is focusing only on energy savings, without regard to why lighting was installed in the first place? Trying to save money without considering the purpose of lighting is like trying to improve the fuel efficiency of a race car without accounting for the impact on the car’s speed.
The purpose of lighting is not to consume more or less energy. It is there to support human performance in the office or other workplaces, sports facilities and outdoor spaces. If a race car can consume less fuel and still win, so much the better. The same is true for lighting systems that support more work while saving energy.
High-Benefit Lighting® (HBL) is the term coined by the National Lighting Bureau to signify a lighting system that in an energy-efficient manner maximizes support of task performance, and generates bottom-line and other benefits equivalent to the money saved by a theoretical 500 percent to 1,000 percent higher energy cost savings.
HBL typically costs no more to design, specify, install, and maintain than other systems. First focus on making the lighting system perform better, and then use the equipment needed to minimize energy waste.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, installation of a new lighting system at a shopping center reduced the severity and frequency of slip-and-fall accidents–savings mall owners $10,000 a year–and added more sparkle and cheeriness to shops.
As a result, retailers’ profits increased by an estimated $1 million a year, and the rental income of the mall’s owners increased, too, because rents were influenced by sales. And because rental income was so high, the resale value of the mall also took a hefty jump.
Maintenance is an essential element to High-Benefit Lighting. If the lighting system–be it indoors or out–is not properly maintained, much of the value available from High-Benefit Lighting will be lost.
As most lamps age, their light output diminishes. When the correct amount of lighting is not provided, potential savings are lost. Also, as dust and dirt build up on lamps and fixture surfaces, more lighting will be absorbed and, in some cases, directional control will be compromised, resulting in the loss of more energy and money.
The only way to ensure that High-Benefit Lighting does its job for the life of the system is to provide maintenance whose cost will be far more than offset by the savings it achieves.
Creating a maintenance strategy
With few exceptions, the most effective strategy is planned lighting maintenance (PLM). Its principal element is timed group relamping (TLR).
Group relamping is the practice of removing all lamps from a system at one time, replacing them, and cleaning the luminaires at the same time. The alternative is spot relamping, which means changing a lamp only after it burns out.
Through group relamping, all lamps can be purchased at the same time, resulting in bulk purchase savings; all personnel are assembled at the same time, and all equipment is on hand.
The big “knock” on group relamping is that you must discard lamps that are still serviceable. But when lamps are purchased all at once, far fewer are needed in inventory. That frees up space, reduces the accounting associated with monthly lamp purchases, and reduces the risk of breakage or “inventory shrinkage.”
When should lamps be replaced? That depends on the lamp lumen depreciation characteristics of the lamps, and the extent of use. The timing of replacements would be at some optimal point in time, say, after 70 percent of the lamp’s average life has passed.
By replacing sooner rather than later, the average light output of the lamp is higher than it otherwise would be. In other words, if you wait for a lamp to burn out, the average amount of light it provides while in place may be 80 percent of its initial output.
By removing it before burn-out, the average output might be closer to 90 percent. Thus, when group relamping is used, the average light output of the system is higher.
Keep in mind that reliance on PLM and TLR also could permit reliance on a lighting maintenance contractor, which could eliminate disposal costs and other costs like overtime for workers.
The only way to maintain the value of High-Benefit Lighting, however, is to maintain the lighting system. The cost of PLM and TLR is actually less than the cost of inadequate maintenance, even less with “all things” considered.
As such, through High-Benefit Lighting and Planned Lighting Maintenance, a facility manager can save money over and over again.
Robert Colgan Jr. is director of marketing services for the National Electrical Contractors Association, Bethesda, MD.
Reprinted with permission from Cleaning & Maintenance Management Magazine, a member of the CM B2B Trade Group.