These photos were taken with a thermal imaging camera that utilizes infrared technology (thermography) to measure the temperatures of surfaces on subjects in the photograph. The colors in the image enhance the viewer’s ability to distinguish cool and warm areas of the surfaces in the image. The warmest areas are white or yellow and the coolest are deep blue or purple.
The photograph on the left is of an incandescent lamp in a recessed can fixture. These are often used for decorative lighting or spot lighting a particular location in a room. As you can see from the scale in the photo the outside surface of the lamp is measuring 280 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of the electricity used to power this style of lamp is wasted as heat. The heat given off by this lamp cannot help us illuminate the space that we are trying to illuminate and is an example of wasteful consumption of electricity…probably generated by the combustion of fossil fuels with harmful emissions. In addition, this wasted heat increases the temperature in the interior of the building which must then be cooled using the facility’s air conditioning systems which consumes even more electricity. The inefficiency of this form of lighting also has the negative effect of costing the building’s owner more money to operate the facility and is usually passed along to occupants and customers. In the case of healthcare, that means patients have higher bills.
The photo on the right is of a standard fluorescent lamp 2 lamp by 4 foot (2×4) fixture. You can see that the scale on the photo indicates the outside of these lamps are measuring approximately 87 degrees Fahrenheit. That temperature is much cooler than the incandescent lamp photo on the left. Fluorescent lamps provide a much more efficient transformation of electrical energy into light energy with less wasted energy in the form of heat. Advances in fluorescent lamps in recent years allow them to serve a wider color spectrum and greater light intensity than in the past. Combined with advances in lens and ballast technology, fluorescent fixtures can be used to very efficiently to illuminate interior spaces.
No perfect solution exists for all lighting applications and in specific cases, the lamp on the left may still make sense. Other technologies such as Light Emitting Diodes L.E.D. fixtures are also making advances that may make sense in certain situations. Energy efficient alternatives should be explored to meet the intended purpose, function, and aesthetics for a lighting application. Question should be asked as to why a lighting solution was specified for a particular space. Organization design standards can be adopted and applied on new construction or renovation projects to promote mass changes that save energy, save money, improve community health, and help the environment. One lamp does not make a big difference, but when these changes are multiplied hundreds or thousands of time, it can become substantial.
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