Reap long-term benefits with lighting improvements

Breaking down costs & benefits of LED lighting for building owners, property managers and business owners

Lisa Littleton

If you are a business owner, building owner or property manager, it is likely you have been asked to consider LED lighting. The cost savings and benefits are compelling reasons to learn more about this technology. Quality lighting enhances visual comfort, is proven to reduce eye fatigue, improve morale, lower absenteeism and improve safety. The cost to light a typical commercial building is close to 35 percent of the building’s electricity cost. This routine cost is a part of any operating budget, and the opportunity to capture cost savings using lighting as a strategic asset is often overlooked.

Recent advances in LED lighting and lighting control systems are now a game changer for reducing the light energy costs by 50 percent or more, with a new lighting system paying for itself typically within a few years. Businesses benefit from local incentive programs through Clark Public Utility’s Commercial Lighting Incentive Program (CLIP) and Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), who help commercial businesses pay for conversion to LED lighting and lighting control systems.

Cost Benefit Example: 2016 commercial LED lighting retrofit in Clark County:

Energy Trust of Oregon offers additional incentives for whole building lighting and control system integration through their Performance Plus program, offering added incentive benefits for full building controls and redesign. Often by adding a controls program and full building redesign, there is less out-of-pocket cost to the building owner than a simple retrofit option. Additionally, with more and more utilities adopting time-of-use pricing during peak hours, controls system integration saves money by reducing electricity use in unused areas.

Lighting control technology is where businesses can really maximize their energy efficiency and cost savings over time. The local rebate and incentive programs are moving to reward lighting systems that incorporate advanced lighting controls. We have seen quite a leap in controls technology, where existing controls on a fixture will dim down based on daylight levels, come on/off when someone enters the room or exits, and to lock light levels as desired by the user. New control technologies offer a greater array of options with LED light systems acting as the digital communications pathway to commercial buildings controls system integration. LED light fixtures with controls are a more adaptive lighting system that can “think like humans” thereby optimizing energy performance at each light source, ensuring user comfort through color and light output programmability, providing light source and building area diagnostics to assist with maintenance needs and offering building owners versatility to eliminate rewiring as tenant improvements and office setups are reconfigured.

There are non-energy benefits that are also being offered and integrated into these systems as well, including: gunshot detection to dispatch emergency response, room occupancy tracking, ad targeting in retail, activity stimulation through color temperature adjustments, automatic lighting level adjustments, daily activity tracking and building communication during crisis.

LED lighting is the connectivity bridge that will communicate all the interactions of a building’s electricity use. Building design is changing; the next generation of corporate office buildings will be very different. Trends that began in high-tech workplaces are migrating into corporate environments. Today’s worker is looking for sustainable, open work environments that adjust to their wants and needs. Wireless control systems with LED lighting offer building owners cost-effective solutions to update existing buildings to meet the needs of the more tech savvy tenant.

Lighting is the one improvement a business owner, building owner or property manager can make that will reap both financial and environmental benefits for the long-term. A good lighting designer will lay out the technology options and will tailor the system to your space, uses and budget while maximizing your rebates and incentives available to offset your project cost. Northwest Lighting Network offers comprehensive training and certification testing for lighting professionals entitled, Next Level (NXT), to assist customers in distinguishing those lighting companies who are up to date on this constantly emerging technology. Unbiased energy saving advice is readily available to any business by contacting the Clark Public Utility CLIP Program or the Energy Trust of Oregon.

This column was written by Lisa Littleton, SWCA vice president and owner of Twice The Light Inc., with contributions from Cyndi Pace, energy efficiency specialist and LED lighting designer, and Alex Basauri, director of engineering at Twice The Light, Inc.

Project Cost $55,550
Clark PUD Rebate $27,775
Yearly Utility Savings $10,672
Simple Payback Years 2.6 years
Return on Investment 38.4 percent

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