Signs of Life for Hospital Lighting
The healthcare industry has experienced budgetary turmoil over the past several years due to unpredictable legislation, rising costs and a changing market. But hospitals and other facilities can look forward to relief from the commercial lighting industry.
LED technology holds the promise of dramatically lower energy consumption. This translates directly into a friendlier monthly bill from the local electric utility, an immediate benefit. But that’s not where the advantage of LED lighting ends. Maintenance budgets will also see a reduction, since the new generation of lighting requires little maintenance, meaning bulb and ballast changes, over a longer lifespan- sometimes as long as 15 years.
While most commercial buildings currently use fluorescent lighting as an energy efficient light source, LEDs are characteristically superior in several ways. As just mentioned above, LED lighting emits greater light output per unit of energy input than fluorescent. Secondly, less frequent maintenance. But here are some more subtle issues that may not be as obvious to the financial decision maker faced with the decision to upgrade the lighting.
Toxicity: fluorescent lighting technology necessarily requires the presence of elemental mercury to work. Mercury is highly toxic to our bodies, so it’s ironic that the typical hospital, dedicated to caring for the sick, have tens of thousands of fragile glass tubes ensconced directly above their patients, filled with toxic chemicals and surging with electricity. LED products contain no mercury, no lead, and only trace elements at most of any substance that might be considered mildly toxic.
Flickering: fluorescent lighting actually blinks on and off at a high frequency, usually 120 times per second. This can translate into migraines, eye fatigue and general lethargy. A healthcare facility might see the effects of this problem in lower worker productivity and a higher number of sick days. Making the change to LED lighting eliminates this phenomenon, because LEDs emit consistent light. If the fixture employs a high quality diode, the appearance of the entire room can be vastly improved as well. It’s important to specify an LED solution which meets or exceeds all safety and performance standards.
Working with a conscientious lighting designer has it’s advantages as well. Not all fixtures are cost effective candidates for retrofitting or upgrading. It’s important to know the relative cost vs. benefit of every option, and a good designer will recognize the most advantageous places to start. Parking areas and corridors are generally the first places to consider, since the lighting in these areas rarely shuts off.
Finally, a thorough business proposal is essential for clear decision making. All available financial factors should be analyzed, and the results of the analysis should be presented with no confusion.
While today’s business environment is challenging for healthcare facilities, lighting choices can provide some relief for financial and maintenance decision makers.