Design Considerations
Last Update: October 30, 2010
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Design Economics, Energy & the Environment

These three aspects of building and lighting design are deeply entwined with one another. Our environment has been affected by our consumption of and dependence on energy. Population growth and increased desire for power has strained utility production leading to increased mandates through codes and standards, and utility incentive programs concentrated on efficiency measures. The costs of energy, new vs. older technologies, meeting codes, understanding the human factors of lighting and a consciousness of “doing the right thing” all converge at the point of construction budgets and the struggle to look at long term affects and costs instead of only initial expenditures.

The new focus on “green” design is bringing this conversation to the masses, raising awareness of the waste and deleterious effects of the status quo and pushing for change in attitudes and methodologies.

This section reviews several aspects of this progression. The significant affects of nighttime lighting, the cause of light pollution and trespass, looks to the IES and International Dark Skies Association for input and provides advanced guidelines for designers to apply when considering outdoor applications. There is discussion of how codes and standards establish minimum energy performance expectations as well as both security and safety constraints. Also the establishment of realistic budgets during the design phase is integral to advanced lighting design. A successful design will balance the potential tradeoffs between specialized technologies (unique ballasting, long life lamps, specific control strategies, etc.), energy use, costs and/or maintenance concerns. Guidance for establishing budgets and reducing maintenance are included.

Light Pollution & Light Trespass
In outdoor lighting, an electric light usually illuminates more than just the intended area. Through lack of optical control or over lighting, stray light also illuminates adjacent properties. This light can become offensive if unwanted, and it has become known as light trespass.
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Codes & Standards
Energy codes are designed to set minimum energy performance requirements. Building codes are intended to provide a minimum level of built-environment safety to occupants. Federal legislation also impacts lighting design by regulating lighting equipment which can be manufactured and sold.
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Safety encompasses safety from bodily injury by obstacles or hazardous conditions. Security of person and possessions also are part of safety. In the case of parking areas, uniform lighting with some vertical component aids in the ability to see and recognize other occupants as posing a threat to one self.
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A thorough understanding of the economic parameters of a project during the design phase is critical to provide the optimal lighting design solution.
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The lighting specifier must consider maintenance during the design phase of the lighting system.  The ability to maintain the lighting system is key to a successful design.
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One thing is certain, the cost of energy is not going to go down. Over the life of a current commercial building, the energy usage for lighting comprises 26% of the typical commercial building energy.  Energy standards within code development have been in existence for more than 35 years and they have driven more energy efficient product design and development.
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