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Highlight a high rise with energy-efficient lighting

Posted on May 24, 2012 Category: Energy-Efficiency Articles

Gleaming buildings rising over the hustle and bustle are iconic images for almost every city. However, those same properties have large operational costs to maintain. A business or property management company seeking to reduce costs and increase profits can look to the ceiling.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), office buildings are the number one consumer of commercial energy costs in the United States. Electricity, more than any other energy source, is the primary energy resource used in commercial office buildings. Overall, these properties use up 2,039 trillion Btu of primary on-site electricity annually. Of that, 676 trillion Btu, 66 percent, is solely used for electricity.

In addition, while office buildings have the second largest amount of floor space and buildings, they consume the most energy of all commercial building types - 19 percent. On average, one office building uses 1.4 billion Btu a year, which is an energy use of 97.2 thousand Btu per square foot, according to the EIA.

High rise office buildings use the most energy of any commercial space. Collectively, the owners of these properties spend about $15.8 billion on energy – most of it for electricity. Lighting consumes almost 35 percent of the electricity use in commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Not only does lighting make up a large chunk of overall energy use, but illuminating commercial buildings encompasses almost 71 percent of all lighting use in the nation. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that if the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings increased by 10 percent, Americans could save $20 billion annually. In addition to the decrease in yearly operational costs, it would also lead to a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

A solution to decreasing energy use for lighting
Property managers interested in decreasing operational costs can turn to light emitting diodes (LEDs). Retrofitting a high rise building with LEDs can provide a business with an energy-efficient solution that is an investment toward the future success of the organization.

LED light bulbs use approximately 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent units. That will translate into saving $6 a year in electricity costs per bulb, or more than $40 over its lifetime.

As a solid-state lighting solution, LEDs are predicted to last 35,000 to 50,000 hours, reports National Geographic. In contrast to the significant life span of an LED, an incandescent bulb may last 750 to 2,000 hours, while a compact fluorescent unit typically creates 8,000 to 10,000 hours of light. The closest bulb to produce such longevity is a linear fluorescent bulb. However, even that bulb doesn’t survive beyond 20,000 to 30,000 hours.

This long life span of an LED makes it a smart choice for a commercial building. It can significantly lower operational expenses by decreasing how often building maintenance crews are required to replace lighting fixtures on the premises. 

Comparatively, there is no other light bulb on the market with the same amount of potential energy savings. It is increasingly compelling to consider making the switch to a more efficient and sustainable lighting solution – especially for high rise buildings.

"LEDs represent perhaps the most significant breakthrough of the last 130 years in lighting technology," research analyst Eric Bloom told Pike Research. "The production of white LEDs, which began in the late 1990s, is starting to transform the lighting industry, and the transition to this new technology is likely to occur very quickly. Rapidly evolving technologies, such as semiconductors and software, are finding their way into the lighting market, catapulting this traditional, historically slow-moving industry into a new era of high technology."

Crafting a high rise retrofitting plan
Upon reviewing the facts, and accounting for an increasingly affordable product as the LED market grows, a high rise property manager can easily decipher the veritable millions of dollars he or she could save. Therefore, the next step is to develop a comprehensive lighting upgrade strategy to limit the chance of disrupting businesses leasing space in the building.

The target in a high rise is to meet target light levels for increased visual comfort, while achieving maximum luminary efficiency. While retrofitting the building with LED light bulbs will substantially raise the energy efficiency of the space, selecting the right fixture and design implementation can increase operations and provide additional control.

Businesses interested in making the switch to a sustainable lighting solution should consider investing in LED lighting for their high rise buildings. They can watch their environmental impact decrease, without ever forgoing the bottom line.