Lighting design, as it applies to the built environment, is both a science and an art.  It is also known as architectural lighting design.  Quality lighting design can improve task performance or the aesthetics of a building or a space, whereas improperly designed lighting can easily result in extreme energy waste, poor aesthetics, an unsafe environment or adverse health and psychological effects.

Savings Though Energy-Efficient Lighting

Lighting includes the use of both electric and natural light sources.

Natural lighting is the most efficient solution for achieving significant energy conservation.  Taking advantage of this natural resource through full height windows, clerestory windows, skylights and controls can drastically reduce building operation cost.

The lighting design team can integrate natural lighting into the design creating more energy-efficient environment and reduce the overall building maintenance.

Electric lighting represents a major component of energy consumption, accounting for a significant part of all energy consumed worldwide.  In homes and offices, from 20 to 50% of the total energy consumed is due to electric lighting.  In many buildings over 80% of lighting energy consumed is an unnecessary expense due to over-illumination.  The annual cost of that lighting and its additional maintenance can be substantial.  For example, a single 100 watt light bulb used just six hours a day can cost over $25 per year to use.

The lighting design team will specify the most current energy-savings technologies including lamps, lighting fixtures, and control systems to ensure minimum energy consumption and to reduce the building maintenance cost over time.

Implementing Energy and Cost Savings Measures at Each Stage of the Project

There are eight successive project phases that allow for both energy and cost savings on any lighting design project.

Programming: The lighting designers will establish relationships with the design team, including the owners, architects, landscap architects, interior designers, electrical and civil engineers and the electrical and general contractor, to ensure clear communication throughout the duration of the project.  The lighting designers will interview the owners as well as each member of the project design team and keep everyone informed of any lighting related decision that may affect their discipline to save coordination time and unveil any energy savings opportunities that may arise.  The lighting designers will insist that documentation be paramount from beginning until completion of the project, to ensure that communication of all the design team’s goals are met and to eliminate the possibility of any errors and omissions.

Schematics: The lighting designers will carefully study the project, identify its criteria and evaluate long-term lighting and efficiency goals.  It is in this phase that the lighting design team will propose a number of potential lighting design solutions to the design team and owners, to allow them the opportunity to select or combine the most appropriate lighting design scheme as well as meet their budget and project schedule.

Design Development: During this phase, the lighting designers will provide lighting fixture selections that will satisfy budget requirements and have higher performance levels which ultimately will result in using fewer overall fixtures on the project and still provide the desired light levels.  On a recent landscape condominium project completed by Lumenworks, their lighting design team was able to save the developer more than $47,000 by opting not to use the developer’s Lighting Standards Package.  Lumenworks’ revised specifications delivered a more appropriate, attractive and efficient lighting design solution at a lower cost to the owners.

Contract Documents: In this phase the lighting designers will provide complete and thorough documentation of the lighting design: the final lighting plans with dimensions, all special lighting details, specific notes to the electrical contractor and the final lighting equipment schedule. These complete documents will ensure a successful and cost-effective lighting installation by eliminating all of the unknowns which contractors rightfully will want to charge more for.

Bidding Assistance: During the bidding assistance phase, if it is necessary, the lighting design team will assist owners in achieving their budget goals by reselecting more competitively-priced lighting products and or carefully reviewing any of the contractors lighting fixture substitutions.

Submittal Review: The lighting design team will review the electrical contractor’s lighting equipment submittal to ensure its accuracy and to avoid any costly errors or potential schedule delays.  The lighting designers will also follow the products ordered with each of the manufacturers until confirmation has been received to secure the delivery schedules for the contractor.

Construction Administration: The lighting design team oversees the lighting installation process of the project making sure that all lighting fixtures have been installed properly and assists the contractor with any questions or lighting installation issues that may arise.  This provides the owners with a more efficient installation, helps maintain schedules and avoid errors.

Focusing and adjustments: Once the lighting installation for the project has been completed the lighting design team will make any necessary adjustments to the lighting fixtures and the controls to achieve the maximum aesthetic and efficiency potential of the projects’ lighting design solution.

Post-Project Completion: Once the construction installation is complete, the lighting design team will walk through the entire project and create a final punch-list.  This site visit is to confirm that all lighting equipment is properly installed and functions correctly.  If the lighting design team does identify any lighting issues, the lighting designers will communicate directly with the lighting product manufacturer and the electrical contractor to resolve the problems before occupancy.

Selecting a Qualified Lighting Designer

A fully qualified lighting designer can ensure that the client will realize a significant cost-savings through-out the entire project. Unlike electrical contractors and factory representatives, lighting designers work constantly with different types of lamps, lighting fixtures, and control systems to develop the most current and cost effective lighting design solutions.  This provides them with a very keen knowledge of the most current lighting products available to maximize every project’s aesthetics, energy and maintenance savings.

Qualified lighting designers are required to earn specific certifications and numerous qualifications recognized by respected associations in the lighting field.  These include Lighting Certification (LC) by The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) certification by US Green Building Council. It would is also standard for a qualified lighting designer to be a professional member of Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), or The Professional Lighting Design Association (PLDA).

In addition, it would be standard that the lighting designers would have a professional background in either interior design, architecture, or possibly theatrical lighting.  The quality of the lighting designer’s work would be revealed with an impressive project list, numerous published works, and have been recipients of many national and or international awards.

Significant savings are always realized through quality lighting design services.

Written by Thomas J. Skradski LC, IALD, ASID, IESNA