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Shining a Light

Facilities managers must pay attention to the health of their exterior lighting systems.

By Caroline Heller

With longer daylight hours as summer approaches, it can be easy to forget about the health of exterior lighting. However, keeping exterior lighting up to date is a critical practice, one that can prevent criminal activity, help facilities comply with regulatory requirements related to lighting and even improve a facility’s aesthetic appeal.

Zack Cornwell, FSG Smart Buildings
Zack Cornwell, FSG Smart Buildings

From parking lots, sidewalks and pathways to entrances, exits, loading docks and outdoor recreation areas, facilities professionals must make sure that all areas are properly illuminated and in working order. “Adequate lighting enhances the safety and security of the facility's occupants, visitors and assets,” said Zack Cornwell, Enterprise Business Development Professional at FSG Smart Buildings. “It can help prevent accidents, discourage criminal activity and provide a sense of security to those using the space.”

Lighting Maintenance

Best practices for keeping exterior lighting in good condition include preventive maintenance as well as cost-efficient repairs.

Preventive maintenance for exterior lighting may include regular cleaning and inspection of the fixtures, replacement of burnt-out bulbs and checking for any damage or wear and tear. “The frequency of maintenance will depend on various factors, including the type of lighting, the environment in which it is located and the manufacturer’s recommendation, but FMs should generally inspect lighting once a quarter,” Cornwell said.

FMs should also consider various factors when deciding whether to repair or replace light fixtures, including the age of the fixtures, the extent of the damage or wear and tear, and the cost of repairs versus replacement. “Generally, if the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of the cost of replacement, it may make more sense to replace the fixture,” Cornwell said. “Additionally, FMs should consider the efficiency of the existing fixtures and whether newer, more energy-efficient options may be a better long-term investment.”

Options Abound

There are various lighting options that may work better for some facilities over others, depending on factors such as the facility’s location, size and intended use.

“For example, LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular for its energy efficiency and long lifespan while high-pressure sodium lighting is often used in industrial settings because of its high output and durability,” Cornwell said. FMs should consider factors such as energy consumption, maintenance requirements and initial cost when selecting a lighting option.

When it comes to suppliers, FMs should ask questions about a lighting supplier’s experience and expertise, product quality and availability, pricing and payment terms, delivery and installation options, and warranties and guarantees. Requesting references and product demonstrations or samples can also help FMs make an informed decision.

Cornwell also recommended adding astronomical clocks for exterior lighting. Astronomical clocks provide several benefits for facilities, including energy savings, improved safety and increased efficiency.

“Astronomical clocks are designed to adjust lighting automatically based on sunrise and sunset times,” Cornwell said. This means that exterior lighting can be turned on and off at optimal times without having to use a physical photocell or timeclock, both of which require maintenance and replacement, thereby reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs.

By ensuring that exterior lighting is always on when it is needed, astronomical clocks can help improve the safety and security of a facility. “This is particularly important in areas such as parking lots or loading docks, where adequate lighting is essential to prevent accidents and deter criminal activity,” Cornwell said.

Astronomical clocks can also improve the overall efficiency of facilities because they help reduce the workload for FMs by automating the lighting schedule; they lessen the need for manual adjustment on site.

Advanced Lighting Control

Advanced lighting control can provide energy savings, improved security and increased functionality for a facility’s exterior lighting, Cornwell said. Here are some specifics from Cornwell on the benefits of advanced lighting control.

  • Energy savings. Advanced lighting control systems can automatically adjust the lighting levels based on the time of day or the presence of people, which can help to reduce energy consumption and costs.

  • Improved security. Lighting control systems can be integrated with other systems such as cameras, motion sensors and security systems. This integration allows for the lighting to respond to security events automatically, making the facility safer and more secure.

  • Increased functionality. Advanced lighting control systems can provide additional functionality such as color temperature control, dimming options and automatic scheduling of lighting. This can provide more flexibility in how the lighting is used and can improve the overall user experience.

  • Maintenance. Lighting control systems can help with preventive maintenance by alerting facilities managers when bulbs need to be replaced or when there are other lighting maintenance issues.

  • Regulatory Compliance. Jurisdictions around the nation are adopting more rigorous energy codes which means facilities will need to adhere to advanced lighting control sequences, such as daylight harvesting and occupancy-based control. These are meant to restrict lighting, or energy consumption, to what is actually needed for a specific time and space.

  • Data collection. Advanced lighting control systems can collect data on energy usage, occupancy patterns and other metrics that can be used to optimize the lighting system and identify areas for improvement.

With this illuminating advice, FMs can ensure the positive health of their exterior lighting, giving customers and team members peace of mind as they interact with your facilities.

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