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the Building's Empty but the Lights are On

Posted by ezintegr on November 30, 2009 at 1:02 PM

Since many offices are unoccupied for up to 14 hours a day, why are their lights still on at 11pm on a Saturday night? They are serving no purpose for anyone at that hour – so why are they still burning bright? When you are out in the evening, notice how many offices are brightly lit when the parking lots are empty. Notice that the parking lots are still fully lit too; but that's the subject for another post. Back to the lit building....Some people try to explain it by telling me "Those are Night Lights". But, they should be called “Occupancy Lights”. The real purpose of these lights is to provide for basic lighting when the building is occupied. They provide basic fill lighting and light hallways to exits. So, again, why are they still on when the building is empty? This is so obviously silly; you can't help but wonder why. Why are we so blatantly wasteful? Is this waste really intentional or are we just en mass forgetful? Maybe we all just can't remember to turn the lights out. OK, I'm having a little fun here, but seriously folks?

Well, as usual, energy efficiency is not always that simple. Until recently, when a building was being built, the construction cost was the most important consideration at the time. Buildings that have control systems and meet the latest code requirements for lighting are supposed to know when the building is not occupied. But often, even they are not programmed properly. Operating efficiency hasn't been important until very recently. So, most existing buildings are prime candidates for retrofits to improve their energy efficiency. Technology is available to solve the problem; it just requires thought and some money. Energy Smart Partners can offer alternatives for turning the lights off and ensuring that they are turned back on when someone enters. The savings are substantial and the cost is readily recovered by the electrical cost savings. Utilities even have programs to help pay for the costs. AEP, for example, will pay for up to 50% of the cost. So, for building owners who want to address the problem, the payback is just a little over a year. For the low cost to control a tenant occupied space, there is really no reason not to. Have you thought about the energy that your building uses lately?

Topics: cabon footprint, occupancy, occupancy lights, commercial lighting, night lights, energy efficiency, green, global warming

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