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A look at lighting

September 19, 2010
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The lighting market has evolved over the past few years as the green movement continues to encourage facilities to become sustainable.

Common trends today include reduced energy consumption, increased workplace safety, increased visual acuity, increased work productivity, and a positive return on investment.

Since energy savings is near the top of every building owner’s priority list, it is the job of the facility manager to implement fixtures that feature the latest in efficient technology.

Safety is also crucial since replacing and disposing of light fixtures can be hazardous to the maintenance crew’s health.

A shift in buying patterns
When it comes to the lighting at a typical facility, there are three different types: Decorative lighting, backlighting, and vision lighting.

Fluorescent light fixtures have traditionally been the lighting of choice for most facility managers.

Fluorescents offer long life, cool operation, and high light-output.

“Many facilities currently take advantage of fluorescent light savings (over incandescent) using older 40-watt F40T12 lamp fixtures,” says David Reiff, sales manager of General Manufacturing Inc.

According to Reiff, the newer generation of 32-watt lights (F32T8) offer similar light output for less energy consumption.

“Currently, T5 series lamps are growing in use as they produce more light and even less energy consumption than the T8 series lamps,” continues Reiff.

Go for the green
“Everyone is looking to go green, which brings new practices to the table,” says Joelle Kolhagen, marketing director at Full Spectrum Solutions Inc.

Prominent “new green practices,” which facilities can easily implement, include:
  • Switching from inefficient magnetic ballasts to electronic ballasts in linear high-bay fixtures.
  • Installing occupancy sensors.
  • Using portable light fixtures at the floor level to reduce the number of ceiling fixtures for general room lighting.
  • Utilizing Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology, which outlasts and outperforms even the most energy-efficient fluorescent lamp.
“The life of LEDs range anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours, which is 5-to-10 times longer than fluorescents,” Reiff explains. “As with fluorescents, LEDs are also available in a wide selection of colors. The drawback to LED lighting right now is the upfront cost of purchasing the fixtures. LED lights typically are two to three times more expensive to purchase than an equivalent fluorescent light. As the volume of LED use goes up, the price should drop.”

Experts warn end users who are planning to upgrade their facility’s lighting to look at the big picture.

“It is important for end users to consider environmentally friendly lighting alternatives because the decision to ‘go green’ and retrofit older, energy-hog lighting fixtures, makes a significant impact on not only energy consumption, but also on the environment as a whole,” says Kolhagen. “Energy conservation techniques and environmentally conscious products are a must in today’s society. The availability to save on greenhouse gasses, emissions and energy demand by switching out lighting fixtures is the result of one decision to make a positive impact on our environment. Substituting light fixtures can offer impacts that certainly make a difference on more than just the end user.”

Safety in recycling
Replacing or upgrading defunct or older lighting fixtures is a safety hazard.

Workers typically go to great heights to change fixtures and, during disposal, can be exposed to harmful toxins like mercury.

In changing and discarding lamps, workers should always wear protective clothing, such as goggles and gloves, and place old lamps in boxes or place them in filtered lamp-crushing systems prior to being sent for recycling.

“These precautions are important to keep the worker safe from shards of glass if the lamp were to accidentally break and to keep the facility in compliance with disposal laws. People need to protect themselves in case of breakage,” says Scott Beierwaltes, CEO of Air Cycle Corp.

Beierwaltes adds that if a lamp were to accidentally break, a vacuum should not be used; workers should carefully sweep up the broken lamp.

EPA’s Universal Waste regulation includes guidelines for the disposal of certain hazardous waste; however, some states have taken these parameters even further in the area of lighting fixtures disposal.

“Some states have banned all nonresidential lamps from solid waste landfills and California has even banned residential lamps from landfills,” Beierwaltes says. “Federal and state environmental agencies have been working towards tighter regulations and increased enforcement.”

Facilities that upgrade and recycle lighting fixtures are doing their part in preserving the environment.

“Furthermore, they are minimizing their liability by avoiding fines and potential lawsuits,” concludes Beierwaltes.
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