Simple Changes That Can Make A Big Impact

by Neil Schroder

The value of LED lighting to your business

In today’s business environment, overall efficiency is critical to obtain full profitability potential.  However, many companies who are looking for an edge over their competitors seldom look to their own facilities as a source of continued savings.  While it is much more exciting to talk about talent acquisition and the latest disruptive technologies; there is an amazing source of money right above your head.  In case you haven’t been approached by one of the thousands of ESCO’s (Energy Service Companies) in the last few years or just walked the aisles of Home Depot; then you need to know about the revolution that is occurring in the world of lighting.  About 15 years ago LEDs (light emitting diodes) started to make their way into commercial and industrial light fixtures.  They were inefficient and extremely costly, but they held the potential to eventually revolutionize the way we think of illuminating our work environments.  It really wasn’t until LED TV’s began to climb in popularity that the LED chipset became both efficient and affordable enough to offer viable alternatives for retrofitting existing spaces with this decades-old technology.  So, what does that have to do with you?  Well, a survey done in 2012 by the Dept. of Energy indicated that there was over 87.4 billion sqft of existing commercial office space… guess how much of that has converted over to energy efficient lighting?  Yep, less than 15%.  That means most of you reading this article are probably doing so under fluorescent lights; which, while efficient in their own rights, consume more than double the energy of their LED counterparts.  A typical 10,000 sqft office building is going to cost roughly $.50 to $.75/sqft in lighting energy alone.  With efficient lighting, those numbers can be cut in half.  Here are three benefits to think about before you turn the page:

  1. Efficient lighting means money back in your pocket.  Above, we used an example of a 10,000 sqft office space.  By fully transitioning to efficient lighting that building will realize a savings of $2,500 – $3,500 every year into the future.  While that may not seem like a lot of money for an organization with a 10,000 sqft office, consider the fact that the investment for that annuity was roughly $2,500 total.  If I were an investor and offered you the ability to make your money back in a year and pay you that same investment back every year after that…would you take me up on the offer?  Where else can you get an annual rate of return of 100% or greater?  Also, we are not talking about major capital investments here, most of these updates can take place within your current maintenance budget.
  2. Efficient lighting is good for your people.  By far the most overlooked benefit to upgrading your lighting to LEDs is the impact on the people.  Now, this might sound a bit too technical but hang with me.  The lighting you currently have probably has a CRI (color rendering index) of about 80; which means it doesn’t do a great job of rendering colors and showing contrast as compared to a perfect light source.  LED’s typically have a CRI of 90+…that small change makes a world of difference in our ability to see and quickly process information.  To put it simply, the light created by LED’s is generally of a higher quality and the benefits of this better light stack up quickly.  In a recent IES article, the authors demonstrate that better CRI is actually more important than brightness alone in determining how well people perceive their environment2.  All this goes to create a better work environment for your employees and a proven increase in worker proficiency.
  3. Efficient lighting is good for the environment.  Regardless of your political views or stance on man-made climate change, there is no denying the fact that we do have an impact on the environment.  While the benefit here cannot be measured in actual dollars and cents, it can be measured in impact.  Consider that for every $500 dollars saved you have effectively removed the equivalent emissions of one passenger car off the road.  Additionally, LED’s have no harmful substances (such as mercury) which can leave lasting impacts for years down the road.

Overall the landscape of commercial lighting is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to look at this untapped resource that can help bring savings to your bottom line.

1Dept of Energy U.S. Energy Information Administration website:

2Konstantinos Papamichael, Michael Siminovitch, Jennifer A. Veitch & Lorne

Whitehead (2016) High Color Rendering Can Enable Better Vision without Requiring More

Power, LEUKOS, 12:1-2, 27-38, DOI: 10.1080/15502724.2015.1004412

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