by Dave VanSpybrook
Facility managers typically focus on optimizing the operation and maintenance of their buildings, such as commercial and healthcare spaces. Lighting accounts for 20 percent of total energy expenditures, usually greater than 30 percent of the electric bill. When evaluating new ways to create and sustain productive environments for building occupants, LED lighting has evolved to the point where it is a “no brainer.” LED lighting helps facility managers and building occupants see advantages in almost every aspect of its use, such as improved light quality, energy savings, and nearly maintenance-free lighting applications. In fact, LED lighting is now the first choice for virtually every general lighting need.
Switching to LED lighting is easier than you might think, and the long-term and short-term benefits are tremendous. LEDs help lower the cost of ownership and deliver the best light experience for building occupants. The sooner you upgrade to LED lighting, the sooner you see these benefits.
LED Lighting Capabilities
Facilities managers are mostly aware of the energy savings advantages of LED lighting, but they should also consider maintenance savings as another major advantage. With no relamping for up to 10 years with LEDs, a facility manager will see major maintenance savings – in cost, time and disruption to the building occupants.
Cree, a leader in LED technology, strives to deliver a better light experience through unmatched performance and sustainable economics due to lower cost of ownership including a 10-year warranty on most of its products. Cree is continuing to push the boundaries of energy efficiency, cutting energy consumption in commercial, industrial and municipal applications by 30 percent, while extending the lifetime of the LED light. For instance, the average projected life of a quality LED fixture is 75,000 hours or more compared to a 30,000-hour lifetime of a typical fluorescent lamp. In an office that operates for 16 hours, 5 days per week, a Cree LED fixture can be virtually maintenance-free (and require no lamp changes) for over 12.5 years. Maintenance time saved can be time spent on other facility’s needs.
Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, Il., recently upgraded its parking and outdoor lighting with Cree LED technology, to deliver optimal light quality and a greater sense of security to hospital staff and visitors. Hospital lighting for parking garages and walkways are often required around the clock, offering energy savings up to 40 percent by transitioning to LED. In addition to significant energy savings, converting to LED lighting can help hospitals improve illumination and performance of other safety systems, such as video cameras, by enabling more clearly illuminated images. At the same time, better visibility leads to better and safer patient experiences.
Bottom Line Benefits: LED Replacements versus T8 Fluorescents
There are about 2.3 billion fluorescent sockets in the country, about 1.3 billion of which are T8 sockets. Fluorescent lighting requires compromise in almost every way –slow warm-up, poor quality light, and special disposal requirements (due to mercury content). LED lighting, such as Cree® LED T8 Series, removes installation barriers by easily fitting into existing fluorescent T8 ballasts, helping to make mass LED conversion a reality.
When considering lighting retrofits, a facility manager is doing a disservice to their customer with fluorescent lighting. Compared to many fluorescents that often have a color rendering index (CRI) in the mid-70s, full-spectrum LED light will make colors look more natural, which has been shown to improve building occupants’ mood and motivation. Today’s leading solutions, LED lamps and luminaires, produce a uniform and consistent light that can achieve a CRI of greater than 90. Many facility mangers may hold off on retrofitting their lighting, waiting for current lighting to burn out or the cost to go down. LED technology is the right action, right now. The upfront investment to switch to LEDs is lower than one might expect and payback can be achieved in as little as one year. This large reduction in energy consumption can help you save money immediately and over the long run, money that could be used for other improvements.
Making a Final Decision and the Cost of Waiting
As leading manufacturers have refined and improved their LED lighting designs, facilities managers can now purchase LED lighting solutions with attractive economics and 10 year warranties, providing ease of mind when making the decision and having confidence in the products they are installing. The virtually maintenance-free nature of LED lighting means facilities managers can save their most valuable resource – their time.
LED lighting, especially in commercial use over the past eight years, has quickly transitioned into a practical reality due to innovations that can offer better light quality no-hassle maintenance, and impressive paybacks. The economics of LED lighting solutions has also reached the point where waiting for further advancements actually decreases the potential lifetime savings. Therefore, it is important for facility managers to realize that now is the time to make the switch to LED lighting.
Dave VanSpybrook is director of Sales Enablement, Cree, Inc. Cree® is registered trademarks of Cree, Inc.