GAIN a Brighter Outlook: Shorten Hospital Stays, Enhance Productivity & Improve Your Mood with the LED Advantage July 11, 2018 14:49
Are traditional lighting styles in hospitals not especially conducive to advancing patient health and recovery? Is it possible that a system of adjustable LEDs designed to cast light that resembles natural daylight cycles, may better support patients’ ability to rest, and create a warmer, more comforting environment in their rooms?
A new LED lighting installation can cost an average of $120—per light—and require the services of a licensed electrician. However, with a tool-free installation of less than three minutes, LED Retrofit Troffers fit into existing ballasts and offer an intriguing, economical solution for institutions, commercial facilities and homeowners looking to benefit from the LED advantage. This advantage includes better quality lighting to enhance occupants’ experiences, is a “greener,” more environmentally friendly lighting option as well as longer lasting and virtually maintenance free compared to traditional fluorescent bulbs.
FEEL BETTER WITH LEDs — Improve Concentration & Add Value
A Cornell University study found that one in four workers experienced a loss in work time based on vision problems and discomfort caused by poor lighting. The study found improvements in the average office lighting system can result in a 3 to 5 percent gain in employee productivity. For homeowners, research done by Energy Star using Quickscope, an energy analysis software tool, found that each $1 invested in energy efficiency could increase the asset value of a property by as much as $3.
The Light/Sleep "Effect"
Research conducted by Rensselaer Polytechnic University studied the effects of lighting on humans in several institution settings. They focused on how lighting characteristics found in commercial buildings such as schools and hospitals can detrimentally alter sleep patterns, hinder recuperation, concentration and influence the overall moods of occupants.
Is Sleep a Natural Function? How Do We Know to Sleep?
We all need to sleep. Most people, even those that experience insomnia from time to time, are aware of sleeps importance to our well-being and do what we can to ensure we receive adequate rest. But how does our body know to fall asleep? The human body’s ability to repeat the cycle of sleep every day is an interesting biological function that can be adversely influenced by outside sources, such as light. Circadian rhythms are the body’s biological rhythms that allow us to sleep and occur approximately every 24 hours. Studies have determined that light is the main stimulus that helps the circadian clock, and thus circadian rhythms, keep a synchronized rhythm with the 24-hour day. Should a lack of synchrony occur within this period, we may begin to experience decrements in physiological functions, neurobehavioral performance, and altered sleep patterns. (http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightHealth/)
Rensselaer’s study researched the premise that lighting characteristics that are effective to the circadian system are different than those effective to the visual system. In order to apply light to potentially mitigate symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or depression, as well as jet lag or other sleep deprivation, it helps to better understand how the quantity, spectrum, timing, duration, and distribution of light that is effective for the circadian system either helps or hinders our ability to sleep.
Introducing a consistent, 24-hour pattern of light and dark through careful modulation of the amount of light—both natural and electric we are exposed to can promote better overall health. For example, traditional electric lighting in senior housing and healthcare facilities is typically set at dim levels and on the entire 24-hour day, every day of the week. Multiple field studies have shown that introducing brighter light during daylight hours and subdued lighting at night enables seniors to experience a more restful sleep during the night by reducing their napping during the day.
Sleep Better; Feel Better
Improving the results of both sleep quality and quantity are attributed to improved moods, positive behaviors and enhanced concentration skills. Studies have shown this principle of adjusting the amount of perceived electric lighting over 24 hours to be effective tool for improving sleep among military members, particularly those serving in U.S. Navy submarines and may also be effective for improving health outcomes in premature infants. If the smaller demographics of seniors, infants and those serving in the military benefit from the quality of light sources, it stands to reason that the rest of us can also experience the myriad benefits of improved sleep. (http://lightingpatternsforhealthybuildings.org/content/3)
Making the Data Work for You; the Circadian Stimulus Calculator
In an effort to apply scientific data to assist healthcare facilities and other institutions to create “healthier” buildings, the Lighting Research Center (LRC) has released a new version of its CS calculator. A key tool for new construction, the CS calculator features a flexible functionality to help industry professional’s select light sources and light levels that will increase the potential for circadian-effective light exposure in architectural spaces. A chart provided by the LRC features a quick and easy way to estimate the potential average CS value in a space using conventional lighting metrics. Please see the link for an example of the Look-up chart for a 2 x 4 troffer.
Build Value While Bidding Adieu to the Buzz & Flicker
Facility owners, architects and homeowners have begun to realize the important effects of light on the circadian system and in turn, are incorporating that this premise when designing lighting in a space. Disrupting the daily pattern of circadian light and dark affects performance and it seems, our basic health, and feeling (or lack thereof) of well-being.
In older buildings, converting to LED light sources, with their substantially longer lifespan over traditional sources such as fluorescents are viewed as necessary updates, albeit time-consuming and expensive ones, especially if the services of a licensed electrician are required. However, with lighting accounting for more than 25 percent of the energy used in most buildings, increased efficiency can make a substantial difference on monthly energy bills.
Retrofit conversions, where light bars fit into existing ballasts and are easily snapped into place without tools are an increasingly attractive, environmentally friendly and economically feasible alternative to segue into the many advantages of LED lighting. According to the Energy Savings Cost Council, energy-efficient lighting upgrades represent the highest return on investment (ROI) of any single-technology project, with an average ROI of 45 percent. These upgrades can potentially pay for themselves just slightly over 2 years and the payback continues over the lifetime of the system through reduced energy and maintenance costs. Many homeowners can easily perform the tool-free light bar installations on their own. Residential LEDs—especially ENERGY STAR rated products—use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting.
LED retrofits replace the distracting glare, buzzing and flickering of fluorescents while incurring a far lower overhead cost than new installations. This allows any commercial or residential occupant to realize the benefits of better quality lighting while saving facilities and homeowners’ valuable dollars—that could then be earmarked toward additional improvements.
LEDs Are the Wave of the Future
According to research published on Energy.gov, widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. If LED technology is fully incorporated on a national scale by 2027, energy savings are estimated at 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity. This terawatt-hour or measure of electrical energy figure is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today's electricity prices.(https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting)
A 2010 Department of Energy report determined that a national conversion to LED could eliminate 246 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Homeowners, corporations and municipalities have all begun to research, propose and implement the LED advantage. In 2013, Phoenix, Arizona, carefully studied the transition to LEDs when considering converting their traditional high pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights. Among the benefits, it was determined that each LED luminary would cost $2.74 per month to operate, compared to the HPS cost of $6.03 per month. Over 10 years, the city could realize savings of $5,988,600 with an LED conversion for their 90,000-plus streetlights. In 2018, Glendale became the first city in Phoenix to complete their streetlight conversion to LEDs.
According to KTAR news, since Glendale only has 18,000 streetlights, they were able to join Phoenix’s order and receive a reduced cost per unit. They also were able to contract with AMERESCO, the contractor performing the change for Phoenix, to do the same in Glendale. “It only takes about 10 minutes,” said Dennis Scanlon with AMERESCO. In 2014, Los Angeles, California launched the then largest LED streetlight conversion, with ambitious plan to retrofit the city’s 215,000 lights. The first completed phase of the retrofit has been considered a financial success, as the city expects to save $8.8 million on its electric bill this year and another $3 million or so in maintenance costs.
A 2014 edition of Forbes.com reported that, “The business opportunity in the great LED retrofit is enormous. Of the 140 million streetlights installed worldwide last year, only 19 million were LEDs, according to IHS Technology. By 2020 LEDs are expected to account for 100 million of the installed base of 155 million streetlights. Annual sales of LED streetlights will jump from $4.3 billion to $10.2 billion in the same time period. Boston, Seattle and New York City are all undertaking big retrofits. New York's $76 million project will be the largest in the country: replacing 250,000 lights by 2017. City officials expect to reap $14 million in energy and maintenance spending per year.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2014/09/10/bright-lights-big-profits/#7e849c9450ba) Lux magazine has reported that Current, GE’s LIGHTING and energy management group, has been contracted by Morgan Stanly to evaluate and install LED luminaries at 600 locations. Current forecasts that some locations may save up to 50 percent on energy costs.
In addition to the potential reduction in carbon emissions, LED retrofits also produce less waste and therefore, have a lower environmental impact than new conversions. Less waste will ensue with retrofitting because the existing fixtures will remain installed. Depending on the number of lights that are installed in a facility, this could reduce the amount of waste that is produced—and the costs of removing that waste could potentially be reduced greatly as a result.
RETROFIT RECAP: IF THE RESEARCH DOESN’T SWAY YOU, THE BENEFICIAL IMPACT ON YOUR BOTTOM LINE JUST MIGHT
- Minimized Out-of-Pocket Expense Because the Upfront Investment Is Less
Because retrofit kits require less material and weigh less (resulting in lower shipping costs), the cost of LED retrofit kits can be 10 to 30 percent less expensive when compared to the cost of an equivalent new fixture installation.
This can make the upgrade to LED much more economical for businesses and homeowners alike (without even factoring in rebates, energy savings, increase in lifespan and all the other cost-saving benefits that LED technology offers).
- Low LED Conversion Costs Because You Keep the Existing Fixtures Installed
If a building or a homeowner purchased new fixtures within the last 10 to 15 years, they may still be in very good shape. For this reason, if the occupants are satisfied with the fixtures’ look, it makes little sense to throw them out and get new ones. This is a perfect example of when retrofitting really makes sense for the consumer.
- LED Retrofits Are Easier to Install and Less Expensive to Maintain
Retrofitting an existing light fixture is as simple as replacing the luminaire with a new one. LED Light Bars are commonly available in 2ft and 4ft lengths to accommodate both 2×2 and 2×4 fluorescent fixtures—fitting most existing ballasts. Installation is fast, easy, and does not require the services of a licensed electrician: Simply snap the system into your fluorescent U-lamp or T8 fixture using the magnetic mounts on the back of the light bars, then supply power from the included driver through the Quick-Connect wiring. With just three minutes of work, you have ≥50,000 maintenance-free hours of high quality light. Depending on the application, this can be tremendously more cost efficient, even if you retain the use of a licensed electrician because retrofit installations take significantly less time (resulting in lower labor costs) than new LED installations.
- LEDs Have a Lower Environmental Impact
With an LED conversion, less is definitely more! Just a few examples include:
- Less refuse is generated because less material has to be disposed of during a retrofit. This results in less strain on already overburdened landfills.
- LEDs use less energy than traditional lighting, while outputting better quality (and in most cases because of the dimming capabilities), and resulting in reduced replacement costs versus traditional lighting sources. Additionally, fluorescents lose 50 percent of their illumination output within 12 months—not the case with LEDs.
Always a Bright Idea: Look before You Leap into LEDs…
As with any project, advance planning, research and comparison shopping can go a long way toward mitigating the potential downfalls that can occasionally befall major undertakings—various planning boards initially denied the financial outlay for Phoenix’s proposed LED conversion, despite extensive data on the benefits. There are literally hundreds of web sources to peruse, ranging from trade associations, regulatory agencies and straight from the source recommendations from home- and businessowners who have taken the leap. For those interested more in numbers than opinions, look for data-heavy (and hopefully, less subjective) articles published fromthe Lighting Resource Center and on Energy.gov. Lux magazine published an article outlining the most common mistakes associated with an upgrade to LED lighting, including overlooking the important step of researching the supplier before making a purchase (look for members of the Lighting Industry Association) and neglecting to read the manufacturer’s warranty before a purchase.