According to a Department of Energy (DOE) study in 1995, lighting accounts for 29% of the energy used in an office. Fortunately, lighting is one of the easiest areas in which to improve your office’s environmental performance through energy enhancement practices. Traditional light bulbs only convert about 10% of the energy they use into actual light. The rest escapes as unwanted heat. Futhermore, traditional light bulbs often have significantly shorter life-expectancies than many other readily available choices. More environmentally-sound light bulbs require less frequent replacement and add fewer items to the already overflowing waste stream. In addition to light bulbs, light fixtures can be more or less environmentally-friendly due to their engineering.
There are several options in green lighting procurement, and more on the way. Energy efficient light bulbs are a great starting point. Fluorescent bulbs, for example, are four to six times more efficient than traditional light bulbs. The EPA reports that if each US household replaced one traditional light bulb with an energy efficient bulb, the energy savings would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road. As they do with electronics, the EPA also endorses lighting products with Energy Star certification. Look for products bearing this mark.
Use the following table to reference types of light bulbs:
|Incandescent||Bad||Traditional bulbs only convert ~10% of their energy use into actual light.|
|Compact Fluorescent||Best||Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs can be used to replace traditional light bulbs with no modifications and result energy savings.|
|T-8 Fluorescent||OK||Newer type of fluorescent bulb that is 20% more efficient than the older T-12 technology. Requires new fixtures if changing from T-12 bulbs.|
|T-5 Fluorescent||Best||Latest in fluorescent tube technology, 10-15% more efficient than a T-8 but requires new fixtures.|
|10-12 Fluorescent||Bad||Essentially first generation fluorescent lights that use 20% more energy than a T-8|
|LED||Best to come||The new frontier for lighting energy efficiency, it is currently in the developmental stages for home and office use.|
There are many options to increase energy efficiency in the office:
- Consider purchasing motion sensors for installation on lights in less-frequently used areas.
- Open blinds during the day to allow in as much natural light as possible.
- Always close blinds at night to reflect light sources back into the office and further reduce the number of lights needed for illumination.
- Consider replacing exit sign light bulbs with CFL bulbs.
- Consider putting timers on relevant indoor and outdoor lights to reduce energy use.
- If redesigning a building, consider using light colored paint and light colored shelving to help reflect natural light and reduce the need for electric lighting.
- Also, if remodeling a building try to incorporate into the design the best use of natural light. Natural light decreases dependency on electric lighting and creates for a better working environment.