Bright Ideas

Does your lighting save energy, reduce operating costs and increase occupancy? As property owners, investors and managers strive for energy efficiency and cost savings, lighting becomes an increasingly significant factor. “The biggest trend right now is value engineering,” says Doug Lauck, vice president of Multifamily Lighting Solutions based in Columbus, Ohio. “Developers are trying to get the best value for the money. They want a good-looking light for as little as possible.”Value engineering, Lauck explains, involves determining the most cost-effective solution for the buyer, which often includes bulk purchasing and using the same lights at multiple projects. Energy efficiency and durability are also major factors when it comes to choosing lights and fixtures for large portfolios, adds Michael DiBlasi, a partner at the Minneapolis office of Schuler Shook, a lighting design firm. For energy efficiency, fluorescent lighting is currently the top choice for multifamily applications, according to the Energy Star program, because they last 10 times longer and use 75 percent less energy than incandescent lights. They also produce less heat, thereby reducing cooling costs in a development. Additionally, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), now available in a variety of colors to allow for a warmer aesthetic and less industrial look, have greatly improved over the last year, and they no longer flicker or take as long to turn on as they once did, according to the Energy Star program. One problem with CFLs, however, is that they contain small amounts of mercury, which can get into the air if the bulb breaks. To prevent this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that all CFLs are carefully and properly recycled.Another emerging choice for energy efficiency is solid-state lighting (SSL). The most common type of SSL is LEDs (light-emitting diodes). “We’re using more and more LED lighting,” notes DiBlasi. “It’s getting better—more consistent and brighter.” While advances have been made in LED technology, the Department of Energy is currently working to encourage further improvement of LED lighting. Beginning Sept. 30, seven LED lighting applications, including undercabinet kitchen lighting, recessed downlights and outdoor pathway lights, will be eligible for Energy Star qualification. In addition to searching for value, property owners, managers and developers must also keep in mind the aesthetic appeal of their projects—most particularly in common areas. “We are often hired to do public areas—such as the exterior and lobby—areas that really have the most impact and provide the first impression of the property,” says DiBlasi. As Lauck and Multifamily Lighting Solutions President Rick Nathans assert, applying certain lighting principles to a development’s common areas can help to increase occupancy rates. Such principles include illuminating vertical spaces and ceilings as much as possible, making the space feel larger and more welcoming. “Putting lighting in prime areas—places where people spend a lot of time—will create a warmer feeling,” says Lauck, “and hopefully rent more properties.” Product Picks…Meeting Title 24 Efficacy Standards, Seagull Lighting’s three-light Acadia Chandelier [1] is Energy Star-compliant. Its Misted Bronze finish and Champagne Seeded glass give it a rustic European appearance (… The Providence sconce and bollard from Architectural Area Lighting [2], which is available in 13 colored finishes, can be used with a number of lamp/ballast options, including LED and compact fluorescent. The sconce is made of molded, tempered glass with a crowned shape, and the secondary lens is a molded, prismatic glass refractor designed to provide even illumination (…Available with either a diffused incandescent or fluorescent light, Lyra from Artemide’s Rezek [3] can be mounted on the wall or the ceiling and is available in two sizes for indoor and outdoor uses. The light is available in a choice of finishes—epoxy lacquer, matte white, matte nickel and matte black—and its assembly hardware and diffuser fastener are stainless steel (…Energy-efficient and long-lasting, GE’s LED Cove Lighting System [4] is designed to perform for 50,000 hours while consuming only 6.5 watts of energy. Because LED systems do not burn out, the Cove System eliminates brightness inconsistencies and, when attached to a control dimmer, the light level can be adjusted (…Lutron’s AuroRa [5] is a pre-programmed system with five dimmers, one master control, one wireless controller and a central antenna, providing residents the ability to turn lights on and off from outside the home. The package is available in white, ivory, almond and light almond ( comment on this article, e-mail Erika Schnitzer at