Singapore 15th February 2012
There is this new craze from companies, corporate institutions and hotel operators who are coming out with these design guidelines to comply with LEED certifications, Green Marks to look like a responsible company. I don’t know about other lighting designers out there but as far as I am concerned I have yet to come across a sensible guideline for lighting design relating to energy loads that makes common sense. Most directives for lighting I have seen seems to have been developed by engineers and not by lighting designers as far as I can see (correct me if I am wrong!)
I recently received a directive from a hotel-operator asking us to design around 9W/m2 for a 5 star hotel guestroom. Now that may all look responsible and a laudable direction but has someone actually cross checked and referenced these lighting load directions with:
a- The lighting level directives
b- The other design standards for a 5 star hotel
c- Budget implications and ROI for the extra investments required?
We have just completed a 5 star hotel upgrade in which we have applied all our lighting knowledge and expertise to achieve the lowest possible energy loads, minimum number of lighting points, compliance with required lighting levels and most of all design within the allocated budget (which for all intent and purposes was quite reasonable). Guess what… we did not manage to stay within the 9W/m2. We ended up slightly under 10W/m2 (with 90% of the lights being LED and the balance fluorescent lighting).
To me if you set a directive of 9W/m2 it means you should comfortably be able to design within these limits. From my observation there is only one way we could have achieved these loads; reduce the number of lighting points and apply LED lighting only. But what about the lighting comfort, lighting levels and the cost of the lighting? Also, anyone mentioned lighting controls in this equitation? Let me put it crudely; yes I can put in one or two big (flood)lights creating all the levels I want within budget, achieving the lighting levels, but is that the mood, comfort and attraction that 5 Star hotel visitors expect? I am all for sustainability and saving our planets energy resources, but the application have to be done with thought and balance. It feels like the same story of banning the incandescent lamp….
Light Watch 3-20: I drew a quick sketch to illustrate my point. A bedroom with fluorescent style office lighting…is that where we are going. Some other alternatives below where you create one (or more) big balls of light. Plenty of light but suitable mood for a guestroom?