Wednesday, January 7, 2009

That's a Lot of Lux

The lighting in my office suite area is poorly designed. One switch in the hallway controls the lights to the hall and multiple faculty offices. In the morning I leave the lights off and turn on two 20 watt CFLs in my office. Eventually one of the professors I share the suite with will arrive and throw on the switch.

Sometimes I feel like music should play when the switch is turned on because it is a flood of light. There is enough light in my office to perform surgery! The small suite area has 18 fluorescent lamps each rated at 32 watts. It is lighting overkill. In my little office there are over 2.7 watts of lighting per square foot. I pulled out a light meter and measured over 50 footcandles. I've thought about climbing up and pulling out the lamps but I want to have the light available when students come in for help or advising.

How much light do I really need in my office? Since I spend most of my office time working on my computer I think 10 footcandles would be plenty. My office suite is just one example of over lighting. I know over lighting is an issue elsewhere on campus and one way we can trim our carbon footprint.

Lighting on the Lasell College campus consumes a large proportion of our electricity and presents an interesting challenge. There needs to be a balance between lamp costs, lighting output, and occupant needs. Maybe I'll pull together a group of professors to argue over the number of footcandles needed in classrooms. There isn't one answer so this would be a fun academic exercise. Each learning situation has a different lighting need. Unfortunately we do not have much control. Most of the lighting in our classrooms have only an on or off option and too often they are left on.

Most of our lighting is 32 watt T8 style lamps. This is actually a fairly efficient system. Of course when you have 6 of them in a 70 square foot area something is lost in the efficiency category. More efficient options do exist. For example, I want to learn more about the lamps sold by Philips that are 25 watt T8 lamps. Switching to this lamp would trim 20% in a hurry.

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