A total of 25 percent of all energy costs are incurred by lights in commercial buildings. The United States depends on fossil fuels for 80 percent of all its energy needs which are responsible for most carbon dioxide emissions, greenhouse gases, and furthering climate change. According to the Department of Energy, the building industry consumes a whopping 76 percent of all the electricity produced in the United States.
The prominence of lighting’s ability to gobble up energy has caused the industry to target, hone, and improve sustainable lighting design. For example, Darden (the parent group that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants ) has committed to switching out old incandescent lighting with eco-friendly LEDs. The future of commercial lighting is green, durable, and affordable according to logistics experts at FSG.
The most affordable lighting is natural daylight. The sun’s rays are free, completely renewable, and have wellness perks for team members.
Daylighting is the controlled use of sunlight that employs skylights and windows illuminate indoor spaces. The careful placement of windows, skylights, light shafts, atriums, and translucent panels work with electrical lights to provide ideal lighting for any number of environments.
A daylighting design combines the use of architecture, technology, and fixtures to make the most of the natural light while still providing adequate and suitable light. The most common daylight design features solar shading tools, climate-responsive window-to-wall ratios, tubular daylights, daylight redirection tools, and daylight -responsive electric lighting.
People exposed to a mere 15 minutes of natural light per day sleep better, have fewer sick days and perform better at their jobs. Unfortunately, some architecture prevents business owners and developers from retrofitting a space with daylighting technology.
Sunlight Transportation Systems
Sunlight transportation describes how natural sunlight is gathered on roof panels and moved into any space through fiber optic cables that can reach up to 15 meters. The piping of sunlight typically combines solar panels and variations of daylighting design.
Another experimental type of sunlight transportation is a modified optical fiber daylighting system (M-OFDS) for indoor lighting. The M-OFDS is created by three sub-systems: concentration, collimation, and distribution.
The concentration section is created by joining a Fresnel lens with a big-central, plastic, optical fiber. The sunlight gathered by the concentration sub-system is grown in a plastic optical fiber and then collimated by the collimator, which is a mix of mirrors and convex lenses. The collimated sunlight moves freely in this environment but is led inside by utilizing mirrors and spread by a distributing mechanism. The M-OFDS is still in development but shows promising efficiency at around 71 percent which makes the budding technology a prime candidate for revolutionizing lighting in commercial settings.
Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Incandescent lightbulbs waste 95 percent of the energy used to power the light due to the heat produced. Energy is moved through a filament (made from metal, usually tungsten) that heats to more than 3600º Fahrenheit. A mere 10 percent of that electricity is transformed into light. Halogen bulbs function in a similar way but use a tiny capsule of halogen gas to react with the filament to produce illumination. Halogen lights produce more light, use less energy, and last twice if incandescent bulbs but compared to LEDs they are inefficient, expensive to use, and expire significantly sooner than LEDs.
Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)
Compact fluorescent lights are miniature incarnations of full-size fluorescent lights and are made from a glass cylinder glazed with phosphor, then the tube is filled with gas and a minimal amount of mercury.
Electricity hops off electrodes from the end of the cylinder aggravating the mercury to produce ultraviolet light. The UV light activates the phosphor and produces light. Compact fluorescent lights produce similar light levels as incandescent bulbs but produce 80 percent less heat while being four times more energy-efficient than incandescent luminaries.
For example, compact fluorescent lights only require a mere 15 watts to replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb and last 10 times longer and produce 70 percent less carbon dioxide. However, CFL’s still pale in energy conservation to LEDs
Compact fluorescents are available in a myriad of shapes and wattages which can make them adaptable to almost any setting. CFLs are more costly at first than incandescent bulbs but end up reaping savings for the user.
However, the mercury content in compact fluorescent lights means these bulbs must be disposed of responsibly and carefully. Mercury is a health-risk and damages the environment. The cost of CFLs rises when the disposal process is considered. Sustainable lighting design applies to CFLs but sparingly.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
LEDs are the future of sustainable lighting. These small, sturdy light bulbs work by passing electrons through a semiconductor material which is lit by the movement of electrons. A diode is a device made from silicon or germanium with two connectors that move energy in one direction.
Light-emitting diodes create light by moving energy forward through a solid semiconductor. This process is referred to as ‘solid-state lighting’, due to the utilized solid material. In contrast, compact fluorescent lights and filament bulbs use gas to produce light.
The amount of energy used by the LED is determined by the color. White LEDs typically have a couple of colors inside the bulbs while white LEDs are commonly blue mixed with a type of phosphor that merges the color to produce clear, white light.
LEDs by far are the most energy-efficient lighting option. Many light-emitting diodes last well over 100 times the average lifespan of incandescent bulbs and beating compact fluorescent lights with durability that is ten times longer than CFLs.
LEDs produce little heat, require low energy levels to run, and are sturdy devices due to the lack of filaments and delicate tubes. LEDs cost more at first, but the energy savings soon proves to make LEDs the most affordable and eco-friendly choice for both commercial endeavors and family homes.