Despite the pressures healthcare facilities are experiencing during the ongoing pandemic, they are still expected to operate efficiently, minimizing expenses where possible. According to Energy Star, healthcare organizations spend $6.5 billion on energy each year. Implementing energy efficiency measures is one way they can improve their bottom line. One of the least expensive and easiest to implement energy efficient measures is updating lighting and lighting controls.
Healthcare facilities have unique challenges related to the use of the spaces in their buildings. Lighting can have a profound effect on the occupants as they utilize areas, so lighting-control systems must have multiple functions for the same room depending on the different uses that happen within the same space. Patients at rest benefit from low, warm lighting but the lighting would need to be brighter during an examination by a healthcare worker.
Other challenges center around stringent code-compliance requirements and the ever-changing technology and needs of patients and staff. The new technology in the lighting industry is addressing these challenges and involved more than replacing light bulbs with LED lighting.
Lighting control systems provide automated control, data-enabled analytics and integration with the building automation system (BAS). The latest platforms provide actionable insights that can assist facility managers to reduce lighting spend more than seventy percent (70%). Wireless sensors can provide data on room occupation, energy performance, asset tracking and building system integration. Facility managers can use the collected data to understand how the space is being used.
Using the Internet of Things (IoT), lighting fixtures can be remotely regulated and operated with smart devices. Wireless technology is making retrofit projects easier by eliminating the need to run physical wiring through existing structures.
There is evidence that light color, wave spectrum and temperature of light affect mood and productivity. This is especially significant in health care facilities where patients undergo the stress of illness and any method of reducing stress and calming the patient is desirable. LEDs are unique in their ability to produce a range of color and intensity. As lighting technology advances, health-oriented lighting fixtures have been shown to be effective and are becoming more widely available.
The ability to adjust lighting color and temperature in LEDs allows for programmable scenes. Using LED products that dim to warm white and full-color tuning, multiple scenarios can be programmed to match the usage of the space. Softer lighting with lower intensity for family visits can be changed to higher intensity, focused lighting during doctor visits at the touch of a button. Devices with user-friendly screens can present multiple presets for ease of control over desired scenes.
Lighting control can lead to significant energy savings, but managers must consider selecting a solution that is scalable and flexible to keep up with technological advances. Larger facilities like hospitals would likely connect their lighting systems to the BAS for better monitoring and management. Smaller facilities such as doctor’s offices, may not benefit from such integration. Occupants would require direct access to controls. To address security concerns around connecting to BAS, most facilities will run independent, local networks controlled by phone or PC-based apps.
Healthcare facilities have many competing priorities and often energy efficiency isn’t one of them. Facility managers seeking to implement cost saving lighting upgrades will need to convince the C-suite that the effort is worthwhile. This can be achieved by benchmarking energy usage and analyzing opportunities for cost effectiveness. Albireo Energy has the expertise to bring a lighting upgrade project from concept to implementation. Albireo will provide a solution that will fit the organization’s needs and guide the management team seamlessly through the process.