lighting design

Shining Down On Lighting Design

In this month’s Practical FM, Robin Day, Chief Technical Officer at FortisDay shows why, when it comes to lighting, it’s all about quality and not quantity, especially in the workspace. And it is here where working with lighting designers can ensure best-illuminated surroundings and compliant energy savings.

In today’s workspace environment, employers are increasingly conscious to provide for health and safety requisites and a visually appealing workplace for all who work or visit, whilst presenting a balance of leisure and work facilities.

To ensure maximum effect, correct, carefully designed lighting is of paramount importance to achieving these objectives. And yet lighting is still frequently taken for granted.

What most people think about first is quantity. In reality, more is not always better, and too much light can actually become a health and safety hazard and a waste of energy.

The best lighting solution is where ‘less is more,’ with significant energy savings achieved and compliance with stringent health and safety standards. Here is where working with a qualified Lighting Designer can make all the difference.

Reducing Glare
One of the most critical factors in determining lighting quality is glare. In spaces where people spend long periods of time or have important visual tasks to perform, glare sources should be minimised, or if possible eliminated.

In recent times, glare has been a major issue in cause of illness such as eyestrain and headaches amongst staff and a considerable health and safety hazard.

This is especially as there is increasingly reliance on technology such as smart phones, tablets and computers where personnel are looking at reflective screens for long periods of time.

But if a workspace is too dull, with not enough balanced or poor lighting, it can also cause issues such as eyestrain as personnel struggle to compensate.

A person can also perceive glare sources from directly above, known as overhead glare. Glare sources of concern in offices today are ‘bad’ lighting fixtures themselves, windows and direct sunlight.

Balancing Light
Another important factor in lighting quality is brightness balance. The relative brightness of various surfaces in the field of view must not be too different.

In an open office environment these surfaces can be categorized as the task itself, the task’s surrounding area, such as desk and cubicle partitions, and room surfaces, such as walls, ceilings and windows.

Again, too much difference can cause eyestrain and discomfort. In an office, the task is often self-illuminated: the computer screen. The brightness of a surface depends not only on how much light is falling on the surface, but also on the reflective properties of the surface material.

For latest guidance on glare and how to balance lighting for different areas of a building and even different sector applications, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has produced a Code for Interior Lighting that highlights minimum standards for illuminance, limiting glare rating and minimum colour rendering.

Lighting Effects
In offices, lighting effect can be achieved by using pendant indirect fixtures that have a partial direct light component. In other types of spaces, such as reception areas, highlighting is achieved with accent lights or decorative fixtures.

The trick is to do this without introducing glare and to strike the correct balance between bland uniformity and too much shadow. Good lighting design will create a visual hierarchy by highlighting objects and surfaces to identify what things are important and help visitors find their way.

The Big Picture
For any lighting design to be successful, it must address initial and operating costs, code compliance and architectural design compatibility. But choosing the best, well considered options and specifications depends on the exact scenario.

This is where working with registered electricians to produce the lighting solution is often not enough. Instead, sourcing an accredited Lighting Designer, is an effective way to work with a Facility Manager and create an ideal office environment for the benefit of its staff and visitors.

Taking out all the guesswork, the resulting lighting solution should aim to reduce operating costs, and add value in other ways, such as making energy savings.

FortisDay offers free lighting advice and design services, utilising specialist trained RIBA registered Designers to work with Facility Managers right from the initial design process, whether you are creating lighting for new offices or a retrofit works programme.

FortisDay can also help choose the right LED lighting, presenting its stylish SmartiLumin range, which utilises latest proven lighting technology to produce a colour render index (CRI) of 93 together with light output and efficiencies of greater than 152 lumens per circuit watt.

SmartiLumin not only complies with the latest CIBSE Code for Interior Lighting but exceeds the minimum standards across all sectors highlighted, especially with regards to reducing / eliminating glare levels and also balancing light.

Installation process can be planned with FortisDay around work agendas to minimise disruption. And on completion, Facility Managers will really see the true advantage of using high quality LED lighting.

No more continuous bulb changes that consume manpower and resource, and maybe even require a halt in operations to access hard-to-reach fixtures, not to mention the cost of replacement parts. All of this translates into significant bottom-line savings as maintenance costs are virtually eliminated.

In summary, when looking into any lighting works programme, it’s important to note that not all LEDs are created equal; so it’s necessary to plan a transition carefully. Working with an accredited and experienced Lighting Designer will help to understand the product purchase and ensure it delivers exactly to suit building and useage requirements.

This way, it is entirely possible that more ‘better quality’ light can be achieved through fewer fixtures in a room, and help to save valuable time, and resource; and energy savings. Overall leading to a much brighter solution all around.