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By Randy Breske, CLMC. CLEP and Craig DiLouie
Published in the August 2008 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Facility managers (fms) might not think that keeping light fixtures clean and changing lamps regularly could save energy, but there are facts that would surprise them. In a new building, proper maintenance can ensure that lighting and control systems meet the design intent on an ongoing basis. In an existing building, proper lighting and control system maintenance can increase average light levels, potentially increasing energy savings if an fm is planning a lighting upgrade.
Good maintenance also ensures that after an fm finishes a lighting upgrade, the right lamps continue to be installed over time to preserve the design intent of the upgrade.
Four decisions can help an organization make economical use of limited resources and also make proper maintenance an integral part of the facility’s lighting related energy efficiency strategies.
Staples Of Proper Maintenance
Proper maintenance is planned maintenance. This provides a road map for creating an effective maintenance program. That type of program involves group relamping and regular light fixture cleaning.
Group relamping means changing all of the lamps at the same time on a scheduled basis. One might wonder why someone would throw away perfectly good lamps, but this action often makes economic sense.
Suppose a large number of fluorescent lamps is installed in a building. A few lamps will fail each month until the lamps reach 60% to 70% of rated life; then the failure rate accelerates dramatically. With each failure, labor and resources are required to replace the lamp, causing operational disruption.
Conversely, imagine during non-business hours, and just before the lamp failure rate accelerates (at about 60% to 70% of rated life), the lamps are replaced en masse. This economizes replacement labor costs while reducing lamp purchasing costs (by buying in volume), improving space appearance, and minimizing disruptions caused by continuous replacements during hours of operation.
Group relamping is particularly economical when maintenance labor is expensive and replacement lamps are inexpensive. This approach can increase savings further when the process is combined with the cleaning of light fixtures. Fixture cleaning typically improves light levels and space appearance while ensuring the light distribution patterns are not altered by dirt and dust buildup.
Planned Maintenance As Energy Saving Strategy
Planned maintenance supports energy saving lighting upgrades in two key ways.
First, by improving light levels, more flexibility to generate energy savings is provided. For example, an fm may institute planned maintenance procedures and improve maintained light levels from 50 to 55 footcandles in an open office. These extra footcandles can be leveraged into additional energy savings.
Second, planned maintenance ensures energy efficient, high performance light sources are not (by ignorance or accident) switched out for standard sources over time. This could negate energy savings.
When selecting lighting equipment for new construction or an upgrade in an existing building, fms need to keep maintenance in mind.
Choosing long life light sources such as extended life fluorescent lamps, induction lamps, and LED sources, is particularly important when light fixtures are located in hard to reach locations. Using ceramic pulse start metal halide lamps instead of standard probe start metal halide lamps saves energy, eliminates color shift, and improves lamp to lamp color consistency.
If occupancy sensors are used, the time delay should be no shorter than 10 minutes, and all controlled fixtures should incorporate the use of programmed start ballasts to optimize lamp life. Fms should consider ballasts that operate lamps on a parallel instead of series circuit, so if one lamp on the ballast fails, the others will continue operating normally. They should also take a look at fixtures with easily accessible features, minimal components that can be easily removed for servicing, and, where required, robust gaskets and/ or seals. Avoiding incandescent lamps when possible is another key to reducing lighting maintenance.
When planning the construction of a new building, fms should minimize, wherever practical, the number of lamp types used in the space and be mindful of maintenance requirements. Lighting designers should be asked to limit placement of light fixtures in hard to reach locations and, when possible, avoid specifying fixtures with short life lamps in awkward locations, such as an incandescent pendant over an escalator. Even though these proposals may be aesthetically strong, they will be difficult and costly to maintain.
Additionally, the designer should provide a written maintenance policy, including recommended maintenance procedures and lamp and ballast schedules. The design should reflect the intended level of maintenance to be performed regularly.
Responsible Lamp Disposal
Lamps containing mercury, such as fluorescent, HID, and neon sources, must be disposed of according to federal, state, and local regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a test to determine whether a given mercury containing light source should be treated as hazardous waste. Upon further study, the EPA changed the rules identifying those lamps as “universal waste,” which can be disposed of by recycling.
This means that in many states, the owner of a lighting system can: use a lamp that is not characteristically hazardous; dispose of the lamp as hazardous waste; or dispose of it as universal waste (through recycling). Some jurisdictions have tighter regulations.
Of available options, recycling is considered the most legally secure, simplest, and environmentally responsible method of lamp disposal. Fms need to check with their state and local regulations to verify and determine specific requirements.
While the initial costs for these procedures may seem high, they will help save money in the future, not only in purchasing but in energy costs too. This will brighten up any fm’s day.
Breske is vice president of Stay-Lite Lighting, Inc. and president of NALMCO (www.nalmco. org), an organization of lighting management companies and lighting professionals. DiLouie, principal of ZING Communications, Inc. (www.zinginc.com), is the author of several books and numerous articles about lighting design, technology, application, and maintenance.