Facility Dude

Does your lighting solution need an upgrade?

By Kate Donnelly
Sep 07, 2015

Energy Management

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Does your lighting solution need an upgrade? Your lighting solution is the unsung hero of your facility. Few other building components see as much use or are as essential to ensuring regular operation runs smoothly.

But just like proper lighting can improve your tenants' lives, ineffective, inefficient or older lighting can have the opposite effect, making occupants' lives and, even worse, increasing your operating costs. Even if your lighting isn't as old as the rest of your building's infrastructure, you may still benefit from a retrofit or upgrade.

Consider these points to help shed light on whether or not it's time for you to upgrade.

Age of your building

One of the most significant factors that can affect your decision to retrofit your lighting is the age of your building. According to FacilitiesNet, 60 percent of commercial buildings in the U.S. were built before 1980. This is a substantial chunk of real estate that's over 30 years old. Even if your light fixtures themselves have been upgraded within the past few years, the wiring may be a different story.


Your budget is likely to be the single most important factor when determining your upgrade and retrofit options. When it comes to lighting, there are two different cost-related things to consider. First is the initial cost - what will it take to purchase and install a new lighting solution? This can often be a substantial investment and may intimidate many facility managers.

However, equally as important as installation costs are long-term costs associated with your lighting solution. Recent increases in national commercial power average prices could spell financial headaches for those facility managers that have older lighting in their building. As FacilitiesNet noted, even reducing your energy consumption by a mere 10 watts per square foot can result in significant long-term savings.


Sustainability is a commonly shared goal among the facility management industry. This has spurred several professional organizations like ASHRAE to publish standards that consistently push toward lower consumption and greater sustainability.

With greater energy efficiency being the trend in the industry, planning your lighting retrofit in such a way as to just meet minimum ASHRAE standards or ENERGY STAR guidelines may seem more cost-effective now, but you'll just have to go through the process again in a few years when new regulations and guidelines are disseminated. Investing now in a more efficient system, such as LED lighting, may seem like an unnecessary expense, but when you consider the fact that these newer forms of lighting won't be obsolete for some time to come, you're actually saving yourself time, money and effort later on.

Balancing the budget

Regardless of which of the many options you decide to pursue, you're going to have to balance your capital expenditures with your current operational budget. This process can be aided greatly by using a CMMS, which combines your maintenance information and building life cycle data with budget information in one convenient, centralized dashboard that can be accessed by any computer with Web access.

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