When it comes to lighting, Robin Day, Chief Technical Officer at FortisDay shows why it’s all about quality and not quantity. Hence it’s integral for Facility Managers to work with accredited Lighting Designers to ensure best-illuminated surroundings and energy savings, for the benefit of staff and visitors.
In today’s workspace environment, employers are increasingly conscious to provide for health and safety requisites and a visually appealing workplace for all who work or visit, whilst presenting a balance of leisure and work facilities.
To ensure maximum effect, correct, carefully designed lighting is of paramount importance to achieving these objectives. And yet lighting is still frequently taken for granted, creating problems for stretched Facility Managers, looking to balance resource, time and increasing costs.
When it comes to good lighting, what most people think about first is quantity. And yet a certain minimum lighting quantity is reached, other factors become much more important.
In reality, more is not always better, and too much light can actually become a health and safety hazard and a waste of energy.
The best lighting solution is actually where ‘less is more,’ still with significant energy savings achieved. And here is where working with a qualified Lighting Designer can make all the difference.
One of the most critical factors, especially in the workplace, in determining lighting quality is glare. In spaces where people spend long periods of time or have important visual tasks to perform, glare sources should be minimised, or if possible eliminated.
Glare occurs when something is so bright relative to the rest of the environment that it causes discomfort or reduces a person’s ability to see. And it is not just limited to sources directly in front of a person.
In recent times, glare has been a major issue in cause of illness such as eyestrain and headaches amongst staff and a considerable health and safety hazard. This is especially as there is increasingly reliance on technology such as smart phones, tablets and computers where personnel are looking at screens for long periods of time.
A person can perceive glare sources from directly above, known as overhead glare. Glare sources of concern in offices today are ‘bad’ lighting fixtures themselves, windows and direct sunlight.
The quality of light is not determined solely by the sources of direct light. In spaces like offices, bright walls and ceilings are preferred and increase comfort. When room surfaces are perceived to be too dim, a space can feel dark, regardless of the light level on the task. Lighting can then be designed to accommodate its surroundings.
Another important factor in lighting quality is brightness balance. The relative brightness of various surfaces in the field of view must not be too different.
In an open office environment these surfaces can be categorized as the task itself, the task’s surrounding area, such as desk and cubicle partitions, and room surfaces, such as walls, ceilings and windows.
Again, too much difference can cause eyestrain and discomfort. In an office, the task is often self-illuminated: the computer screen. The brightness of a surface depends not only on how much light is falling on the surface, but also on the reflective properties of the surface material.
Some prefer indirect lighting, where it might seem logical to conclude that uniform lighting is the key to quality lighting. But some Designers believe that totally indirect lighting is too bland and featureless, like an overcast day. A bit of direct lighting creates a little shadowing and reflects off shiny objects creating highlights and depth.
In offices, effect can be achieved by using pendant indirect fixtures that have a partial direct light component. In other types of spaces, such as reception areas, highlighting is achieved with accent lights or decorative fixtures.
The trick is to do this without introducing glare and to strike the correct balance between bland uniformity and too much shadow. Good lighting design will create a visual hierarchy by highlighting objects and surfaces to identify what things are important and help visitors find their way.
Colour rendering is a significant factor in determining such lighting quality. Colours need to appear accurate, not dull or washed out. In typical interior applications, this is not a problem with current lighting technologies.
Colour rendition, the ability of a light source to render colours accurately, is measured on the 0-to-100 colour rendering index (CRI) scale. Lamps with a CRI of 80 or more offer the best colour rendition. FortisDay’s SmartiLumin offers a CRI of 93 together with light output and efficiencies of greater than 152 lumens per circuit watt.
Meanwhile, correlative colour temperature (CCT) is the measure of the ability of a light source to reveal the colours of an object faithfully, as compared to a natural or ideal light source. And a lighting designer will work with Facility Managers using such influences to create the most effective working environment.
Beyond energy savings, such quality designed LED light fixtures provide more control over a building's look and feel. Warm light, white light, colours, even 'light recipes' allow companies to design custom lighting schemes. Lighting can even be used to reinforce a company’s brand, just like a logo or colour palette.
One easy way to give office workers some control is to include the option of light level sensors and presence detection. Here, controls can be optimised to take advantage of natural daylight savings and maximise off periods, not only reducing maintenance requirements but also enhancing user environment.
Another way to provide user control is with multilevel switching, also called dual switching. Typically, in a fixture with three lamps or lamp rows, one lamp or lamp row is switched separately from the other two.
This allows for three levels of light — one, two or all three lamps. That gives the user control over light levels and can save energy. The user can simply turn on the amount of light needed based on personal preference and available daylight.
Daylight also can be a significant source of light for building interiors. A simple way to take advantage of daylight for energy savings is to separately switch the light fixtures near windows so they can be turned off when there is sufficient daylight.
And finally, with new connected technology, we can personalise our office lighting and control it all within the power of our mobile phone. So we only need to use it, how we want and as and when required.
The Big Picture
For a lighting design to be successful, it must also address initial and operating costs, code compliance and architectural design compatibility. But choosing the best, well considered options and specifications depends on the exact scenario.
This is where working with registered electricians to produce the lighting solution is often not enough. Instead, sourcing an accredited Lighting Designer, such as FortisDay offers free of charge, is an effective way to work with a Facility Manager and create an ideal office environment for the benefit of its staff and visitors.
Taking out all the guesswork, the resulting lighting solution should aim to reduce operating costs, and add value in other ways, such as making energy savings.
As technology, codes and the needs of building occupants have become more complicated; it has become harder to produce quality lighting. A professional Lighting Designer, whose job is the constant evaluation of new technologies and products can help with the correct application of technology.
Getting It Right
In summary whether you are creating lighting for new offices or a retrofit works programme, work with a specialist Lighting Designer, ideally sourcing one that is RIBA registered to ensure a full understanding of building design.
And it’s also worthwhile employing the services of said Lighting Designer as early as possible in the works programme process, even from initial planning phases. This ensures the installation process can be planned around work agendas to minimise disruption.
When completed in such a structured and planned route, Facility Managers will really see the true advantage of using high quality LED light fixtures.
No more continuous bulb changes that consume manpower and resource, and maybe even require a halt in operations to access hard-to-reach fixtures, not to mention the cost of replacement parts. All of this translates into significant bottom-line savings as maintenance costs are virtually eliminated.
One final thought is that not all LED luminaires are created equal. So not only should a Lighting Designer carefully plan a works programme with a Facility Manager, but also fully ensure a full understanding of any product purchase, so that it delivers exactly to suit exact bespoke building and useage requirements.
All this considered it is entirely possible that more ‘better quality’ light can be achieved through fewer fixtures in a room, to help Facility Managers to save valuable time, and resource; and energy savings. Overall leading to a much brighter solution for staff and visitors on site, at all times.
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