Moving towards the Light

A few months ago, UAE-based Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad Esco) signed an agreement with Sharaf Electronics to implement a lighting retrofit programme for three terminals of Dubai International Airport (DXB) that will result in savings worth $9.5m (AED35m) for operator Dubai Airports.

This report certainly got the spotlight back on the important role the lighting industry plays in energy conservation. Time and again various reports have emphasised how Property Developers/Owners can see large savings by just understanding the right kind of lighting solutions. 

The GCC has always been identified as the regional driver with environmental commitments pushing demand for highly-efficient and cost-effective solutions. Considering the initiatives taken by the government and other private organisations for establishing Smart City projects, the demand for lighting solutions that can help conserve energy has grown significantly. In this exclusive feature FM today sheds light on the energy conservation through lighting solutions, what building managers need to keep in mind while picking the right light for their facility, and highlights the various tips and techniques one can use to achieve energy-efficient lighting. 

Market Growth

Numerous reports have stated that lighting fixtures and energy-efficient LED solutions are key growth areas in the lighting market. 6Wresearch forecasts the Middle East’s lighting fixtures market will achieve 10.3 percent growth to reach an estimated US$8.7 billion by 2024, while Frost & Sullivan predict the GCC’s LED lighting sector will expand by 17% by 2021. 
The growth and demand in the market only go to show that the perception towards energy conservation in lights has certainly evolved over the last few years. Experts in the industry reveal that they have witnessed an increased form of awareness amongst the end-users when it comes to lighting. However, Paul Nulty, Founder, Nulty +, notes that people are now starting to better understand that it energy-efficiency is not achieved just by LED fixtures. “It is also how the use of the fixture is applied in context. And this is the realm of the lighting designer. We’ve had projects where we were requested to achieve a 20% saving and in reality, we achieved a 40% saving due to careful planning and understanding of how brightness is perceived,” adds Nulty.

Andrew Bunker, Regional Director, Middle East, Ecosense + Lumium, observes that the opportunity to save money through more efficient lighting and the want to build ‘green’ are definitely important considerations of most project owners. However, he is quick to point out, that the reality is that this comes at a cost and many continue to take the short-term view. “The awareness to reduce energy consumption is across all industries, not only lighting. We see new sustainable buildings selecting recycled (or recyclable) construction materials and including those, for example, that are better insulators to keep building heated or cooled. In Dubai, DEWA has launched some lighting initiatives to help us to reduce our energy consumption at home but I’m not sure of the success to date. There may need to be financial incentives, or laws to encourage a more sustainable approach in all sectors,” says Bunker.

Impact of Technology

Technology has had a huge impact on lighting. After decades of advancement, lighting fixtures now have the components it takes to turn everyday lights into smart devices—with all the apps, Big Data intelligence, and platform thinking that goes along with them. Today, lighting controls are already increasing energy efficiency and improving user experiences. But they are quickly emerging as a critical enabler of smarter, more connected buildings.
The rise of integrated lighting controls was driven by a number of factors. New energy codes in virtually every market require the use of more efficient lighting solutions. LEDs have proven effective at reducing energy consumption by up to 40 percent or more when compared with traditional light sources. Adding LEDs to a totally green energy strategy has become a virtual necessity.

Starting with dimmer switch technology and, later, programmable lighting controls, the lighting industry has been steadily moving along the path toward integrated controls. Now, highly effective occupancy and daylight sensors are allowing lighting fixtures to sense what’s happening around them to ensure that lights are in use only when they’re needed.
“Technology continues to be pushed forward by lighting brands whose goal is to build world-class platforms and to be leaders in our industry. There are many areas that determine a great lighting fixture – but engineering excellence is key, whether it is optical design, electrical or mechanical and today we see new technologies being integrated into lighting fixtures, such as Bluetooth or Li-Fi. The ability to control lighting fixtures from your phone or tablet, without getting out of your seat is a welcome convenience and it is becoming more affordable every day. What perhaps is most interesting is how lighting will affect the retail market providing guidance around a store based on the interests of the user,” says Bunker.

Nulty goes on to add, “As lighting designers, we are fortunate to work at the junction of creativity and technology. So, innovative technology plays a huge role in all that we do.  There have been very few revolutions in lighting for a number of years. Instead, we’re seeing fast-paced incremental evolution. This, of course, makes specification of luminaires difficult as what is cutting-edge today is obsolete tomorrow!”

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Nivedha Sridhar is a member of the founding team at Facilio Inc