Irby Circuit

Energy Savings

Lighting Audits

By Doug Walo, Contributing Writer
Excerpts of this article were originally featured in the Lighting Audits article from the April 2003 issue of Electrical Wholesaling. Portions of this article reprinted with permission from Electrical Wholesaling.

Building owners are always concerned about upgrading their facilities and decreasing operating costs. The most important facet of reducing operating costs may be upgrading the lighting system. That’s because the largest single component of a commercial building’s electricity bill is lighting, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Overall, utility costs are the largest expense per square foot for commercial buildings when compared to cleaning, repairs/maintenance, roads/grounds, security and administration, according to a report published by the Building Operating Managers Association (BOMA), Washington, D.C. BOMA states, “Utility expenses have grown at a rate of 9 cents per square foot since 1999 and are expected to trend upward for many years to come.”

Because these operating costs continue to rise, it’s important we help our customers with building management responsibilities understand why controlling lighting costs is critical to managing their overall operating costs.

Good Energy Management is Good Business

Whether your business is manufacturing, real estate, retail, healthcare, education or government, controlling and cutting costs is important for success. Reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency is a proven strategy for cutting and controlling costs with good returns.

Organizations that have adopted effective energy management strategies and built successful energy programs include:

  • Ford Motor Company has saved over $75 million through effective energy management.
  • USAA Real Estate has realized a 5% annual energy savings and increased the asset value of a California building by $1.5 million due to energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Eastman Kodak saved more than $8.6 million in operating costs in 2002 from its energy management efforts.
  • Hines estimates the difference in operational costs between its energy efficient buildings and inefficient buildings at more than $13 million.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools estimates an annual energy savings of $4.5 million from energy efficiency improvements.

Lighting Audits

A lighting audit is the simplest and most effective way to evaluate the current lighting system and identify methods of reducing long-term operating costs. Many building owners may ask, “Why do I need a lighting audit? I have a reflected ceiling plan or ‘as-built’ drawings when the building was completed.”

Unless the building has just been finished or is very young, how would a building owner or facility manager know the existing system matches what is on the older plans? They can’t know for sure. Providing a lighting audit gives building owners and facility managers the tools necessary to understand their current lighting system and make potential system improvements. The sidebar, “Lighting Audit Basics,” on the opposite page summarizes what may be included in a lighting audit.

Concerns and benefits

It’s important to understand what a lighting audit entails in order to recognize its value. A lighting audit of a facility would take this input and provide detailed retrofit, conversion or replacement fixture recommendations complete with cost of project, payback analysis and annual energy savings. Task-specific light-level readings before and after a retrofit can be performed to ensure levels are adequate after the lighting system is changed or modified.

Customer concerns

It’s critical to ask two questions before completing an audit: What are the payback requirements? Are you willing to complete the project if payback warrants it? It is important to understand the commitment involved in conducting an Irby Lighting Audit, so expectations are clearly defined beforehand. If you can’t give assurances about going forward, even if the payback falls within the guidelines, you may not want to spend time on the audit. Additionally, are you willing to share information related to payback requirements on major projects? If so, a lighting audit can help identify key information for this or other various projects you may perform.

Other benefits

Though not mentioned in the lighting audit criteria, think about the value of walking into every room of your facility along with a knowledgeable Irby salesperson. While performing the audit, together you can gather information about the lighting system you are auditing to ensure that all the necessary information is collected.

An Irby Lighting Energy Audit provides extremely valuable information to make smarter financial decisions for your facility. Most lighting professionals rely on lighting energy audit software to perform their audits. QUICKAUDIT, a new software from SYLVANIA, is available through your Irby salesperson to help you conduct a comprehensive lighting energy audit. Irby can help you save money by simply conducting an Irby Lighting Audit.

Ask your Irby salesperson about QUICKAUDIT and learn more about this cost savings tool.

Lighting and Audit Basics

This highlights some of the most basic factors that audits evaluate.

Fixture count (by type) of every lighting fixture in a facility
  • Room by room
  • Hallways
  • Common space
Fluorescent fixture type analysis
  • Lamps per fixture
  • Existing lamp type
  • Existing ballast type
  • Voltage
  • Are fixtures dimmable?
Incandescent fixture analysis
  • Existing lamp type
  • Existing fixture type
  • Voltage
  • Are fixtures dimmable?
High-intensity discharge (HID)
  • Type and wattage
  • Existing ballast type
  • Does light source fit application?
  • Can the existing system provide energy savings?
  • Task-specific light-level readings
Room specifics
  • Height of ceiling/fixtures
  • Color of floors and walls
  • Length and width of room
  • Open office area with partitions
  • Single use office
  • Occupancy sensors present
  • Hours of operation (may have to use general assumptions for common use area)
  • Room specifics
Financial considerations
  • Cost of electricity (per hour and demand)
  • Existing cost of current products being purchased
  • Do you have the manpower to complete the project?
  • Do you have the capital to complete the project, or is financing required?
  • What are the payback requirements?
  • Would you do the project if the payback warranted it?