Keep these tips in mind when you’re working on your next lighting project, to achieve great results at the right cost
Make a plan and follow it
Research and formulate a strategy for your lighting. If you can come up with standardised approaches, you’ll benefit from economies of scale and keep maintenance simple. Set minimum specs, minimum aesthetic requirements and ensure consistency. Be ready to review your plan openly and honestly, and review your supply chain too – a list of approved manufacturers gets less and less useful with each day after it’s compiled.
Don’t forget the people
Light vertical surfaces as well as the task area. Direct/indirect lighting is good to wash ceilings and walls with light, which makes spaces feel airier and more natural. Look after the occupant, and the space will work.
Light the task, not the plane
Aim to create a lighting solution based on the tasks being performed, rather than just trying to light the ‘working plane’ to a certain number of lux. Remember, lighting guides and standards are there to be used and understood, but not blindly followed. Consider task lighting – it’s really useful. And make sure you get good vertical and semi-cylindrical illuminance – this is how you’re going to light people’s faces.
Turn stuff off
Make sure you’re using basic controls: absence detection and daylight linking. If you’ve got a campus-wide strategy for integrated controls, then you can do more sophisticated things like failure reporting, remote monitoring of occupancy, and integration with BMS. If you don’t have that luxury, just keep it simple, to make sure everyone can operate it and you don’t encounter any compatibility issues.
Careful what you replace things with
LEDs may be the future, but don’t assume that the future is now. Just because it’s LED doesn’t mean it’s the right solution, or even the most efficient one. Be wary of retrofit lamps – ideally it’s best to think the solution through from the ground up, and consider what’s really best for the job, rather than just replacing whatever was already there like-for-like. Take the opportunity to modernise and refurbish.
Know what you’re getting
Proper specification is crucial. Define your key performance criteria and work out what value your products are going to deliver to your client. When buying LED products, check that the product information you’re getting is complete, with data for colour rendering, colour temperature, lumen depreciation and so on. Luminaire lifetime can be defined in a number of ways, so don’t accept a headline figure – ask your manufacturer for the basis of their claim, and whether it includes the driver, which is often the weak link.
Encourage the supply chain
Work with your suppliers and push them to come up with solutions that suit you. Make sure you can justify your specification, be wary of ‘value engineering’ and remember that not all ‘equal and approved fittings’ are equal.
Natural light is the best kind of light available, and it’s free. It’s not so easy to use in existing buildings as in new ones, but there are still opportunities. Look at daylight linking to dim lights near windows, and think about a shading strategy.
Analyse, learn, feedback
Manufacturers like to tell you that you can ‘fit and forget’. In reality, that’s not a great idea. Keep checking that your lighting and controls are working properly, monitor energy consumption and benchmark the performance against what you expected. This is the only way you’ll be able to do it better the next time.
Never lose sight of quality, both in terms of the products specified and, crucially, the overall lit effect. Make sure the scheme gives the right impressions, and does what it’s meant to do.
- This article is based on a presentation by Dan Lister, senior lighting designer at Arup
- Lighting in the education sector is the subject of a special session of seminars and debates taking place at the LuxLive 2016 exhibition in London on Wednesday 23 November and Thursday 24 November. To register for free and view the full programme of events, visit www.luxlive.co.uk