Shedding new light on an old problem
On average, lighting accounts for almost 50% of all electricity consumed by public schools, 25% for retail facilities, 23% for hotels, 17% for commercial buildings, and 16% for healthcare facilities. Beyond the cost benefits, today’s luminaries and controls have the ability to actively support the productivity, health, and well-being of building occupants.
Alco Building Solutions is a leading provider of turnkey interior and exterior lighting solutions for building owners in a variety of private and public sector market segments.
Our highly credentialed lighting experts specialize in designing & implementing customized lighting systems that:
Reduce overall utility and maintenance costs
Improve occupant morale, safety, productivity, and performance
Facilitate operational sustainability
Our lighting solutions include everything from the initial site audit through design and installation. We secure any available incentives and rebates, handle all warranties, and dispose of old fixtures. And, all of this is competed without any interruption to your day-to-day business operations.
Choosing the right lighting technology matters
For millions of years, humans (and almost all other living organisms) existed and survived by following the natural pattern of the sun. As a result, we developed biological clocks (circadian rhythms) calibrated to the different light phases during a 24-hour day. The physiological processes controlled by our circadian clocks include metabolism, hormone secretion, body temperature, cardiac function, and ageing.
Decades of research confirm that circadian rhythms that sync with the natural light cycle help us feel more energized during the day and sleep better at night. They also improve our immune system, lower stress, and reduce the risk for diseases such as mood disorders, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Here's the problem
On the flip side, misaligned circadian rhythms result in a bevy of negative consequences—such as chronic fatigue, poor concentration, and an increased risk for various diseases.
These days, the vast majority of people spend more than 90% of their time indoors, far from natural sunlight. Artificial lighting has contributed to a gradual shift in human activities and behavior. Days are dimmer and nights are brighter than would be experienced in nature.
The problem with incandescent lighting is that it's wildly inefficient (more than 95% of the energy goes to heat, rather than light). Incandescent bulbs have a very short lifespan (typically just 750 hours) and, because of the heat they produce, they can be hazardous in certain environments. The problem with fluorescent lighting is that it contains toxic materials (mercury and phosphorus), have a short lifespan (anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 hours), are omnidirectional (meaning they can't be focused), they emit ultraviolet light, need time to warm up, and they buzz. All of which can have very negative effects on occupant wellbeing.
As a result, research conducted by the American Society of Interior Design found that 68% of workers/employees complain about the lighting in their buildings.
Having the right lighting is, accordingly, becoming more of an issue for building owners, employers and facility managers.
Here's the solution
The transition away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting fixtures toward LED technology is well underway. The overall cost savings associated with LEDs are all most facility owners need to know to make LEDs their preferred lighting solution.
But wait! There’s more!
The LED industry has made substantial advancements over the past few years—including new applications and increasing efficiencies.
In addition to longer life, lower maintenance, and dramatically lower energy costs, LED lighting now delivers advanced control options. Intelligent and flexible lighting solutions can be tuned to different color temperatures, automated to respond to ambient daylight, and dimmed in minute increments.
Most importantly, today’s lighting systems have the ability to actively support the productivity, health and well-being of building occupants.
Human centric lighting is the science of creating lighting that mimics the natural daylight cycle. As mentioned above, the natural variations of sunlight determine our circadian rhythms which, in turn, affect our physiology and behavior. Ineffective indoor lighting can throw off our internal clocks, negatively impacting our sleep, hormonal systems, behavior and productivity.
Human Centric Lighting enhances human performance, comfort, health, and well-being by balancing the visual, emotional, and biological benefits of lighting.
Additional benefits being studied include:
Heightened the concentration and energy.
Improved work performance and productivity.
Increased occupant motivation and commitment.
Improved emotional stability and lower rates of depression.
Daylight harvesting is an automatic lighting control strategy that uses daylight to offset the amount of electric light needed to properly light indoor areas—thereby reducing energy consumption and costs. (In most applications, daylight harvesting can result in a 35-60% energy reduction.)
Harvesting strategies include:
Dimming or switching off lights when there is sufficient ambient light is present.
Installing occupancy sensors that turn lights on when someone enters a space and turning them off in areas that are vacant.
Using time-of-day scheduling and sunrise/sunset clocks to ensure exterior lighting is not on during daylight hours.
Establishing ‘Daylighting Zones’ within a building that adjust the dimming of lights based on a zone’s distance from ambient light sources, such as windows or skylights. This is accomplished by using integrated photocells to sense available lighting in each zone.
To overcome the negative effects of inadequate indoor lighting, more and more building owners and facility managers are turning to LED color tuning.
Color tuning can be used to simulate natural lighting—mimicking the sun’s path throughout the day—transitioning from cooler light in the morning and gradually warming up as the sun moves across the sky.
Color tuning also allows facility managers to customize the light color and hue in response to specific tasks, space, or personal preferences.