Designing solutions to fit the space
At the core of every lighting project is the solutions design. True to the title, lighting design is the process of delivering the necessary lighting to an area, but to better expatiate on the importance of the job, it is important to differentiate between the commodity of “light” versus the asset of “lighting.” Lighting is an investment that can be very advantageous to an organization and should be carefully considered. Every project starts with a conversation about necessity.
In order for the lighting to best support the client’s goals, project managers and designers need to know the organization, who will be using the space and their lighting needs, characteristics of the building, importance of energy efficiency and budget, restrictions based on geographical location, and much more. Based on what the owner wants to communicate through lighting, decisions on quantity of light, color quality, brightness, and direction can be determined.
The importance of an open dialogue between a building owner and the project manager cannot be stressed enough. Lighting designs cater to the building and work being done which in turn leads every project to a custom solution in terms of size, style, and programmatic requirements. In addition to discussion, it is beneficial for a facility to take advantage of audits in which experts can determine the heavier traffic areas of the building and select the fixture types that would be most advantageous. With proper identification of LED opportunities for retrofits and thoughtful coordination of the building systems, solutions can be designed with consideration to specific needs.
For example, spaces without access to natural sunlight, such as warehouses and mechanical shops, may place importance on implementing LEDs with color temperatures that mimic daylight and allow for circadian stimulus. Advantages like this — which can only be gained through the creation of custom LED design — are leveraged to create an environment that is more sustainable, flexible, and enhances the experience of inhabitants while still meeting safety and visibility requirements.
Design works in concurrence with product selection, or specification. While considering the more human-centric aspects of lighting needs, it is also critical to assess the quality of the product, longevity, and controllability. Is there a chance the space may change over time? If so, how will the lighting demonstrate flexibility and ability to augment? To reiterate, deploying LED solutions is an investment, so it is important that the lighting fixtures both fit the logistical needs of the building and abide despite future changes. Incorporating these considerations into a lighting design will not hinder finding the perfect fit, either. Due to the advancement in LED technology, clients are able to select from a wide variety of LED products, but must make sure to prioritize the appropriate light levels for their building.
Ample lighting in an office space, for example, keeps employees alert and the higher visibility allows them to yield accurate results. If the space is underlit, it may have adverse effects on productivity, health, motivation, and even employee retention. Light levels that are too high prove to be just as bad and consume unnecessary energy. Successful lighting design and product selection takes efficiency into account to best make a building sustainable while maintaining an attractive ROI. This can be done by investing in LED light fixtures with higher lumens per watt that provide sufficient light while consuming less energy. For the slightly higher initial cost of efficient LED lighting, organizations can save significantly in the long run through decreased maintenance costs, lower utility bills, and utility incentive programs intended to help offset the initial installation cost of such solutions.
As established, lighting plays a critical role in how a space is perceived. However, lighting decisions can influence performance, mood, morale, safety, security, decisions, and actions as well. Lighting design and product selection allows for optimal lighting depending on the goal of the building and people within.
For example, fixtures with low color temperatures, which are considered warm and relaxing, may be specified for homes and restaurants where the goal is to feel at ease and there is generally no reason to be on high alert. The same fixtures would not be suitable for a commercial and industrial (C&I) environment since the effect from the lights would be counterproductive. Instead, the fixtures in C&I settings are often designed with high color temperatures that can increase awareness and energize. These spaces rely heavily on visibility in order to perform high-precision manufacturing tasks. Lighting in spaces in which people are expected to concentrate for long periods of time, such as classrooms and offices, are typically designed to have a neutral color temperature so as not to be over- or under-stimulating.
Improve building efficiency and utilization
When it comes to specifics like a warehouse facility or a laboratory, they differ quite a bit. There are many aspects of the two workspaces that contribute to the lighting choices. For example, the core differentiating features of a warehouse facility is overall building design, ceiling height, and loading capability. Warehouses are also the largest industrial real estate category, which sets it apart in terms of number of fixtures and light levels. To maximize space utilization, most warehouses employ rows of tall shelving, which results in narrow aisles that are challenging to light, with a “cavernous” effect. In designing a lighting solution, the top priority is visibility as it correlates to employee morale, productivity, and reduction in error, which in turn decreases cost.
While working with precision and delicate materials in a laboratory, visibility is paramount but for different tasks and in a completely different environment. Lighting for a laboratory would be designed to be extremely bright for the essential work as well as to contribute to the perception of cleanliness and making the space look sterile.