With increasing energy restrictions and emerging technologies such as LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps, lighting has become more complicated in the past couple of decades. Once, the options were limited to incandescent lamps for home use, fluorescent tubes for retail applications and sodium chloride for civil engineering application. Where lighting was once an afterthought, today large budgets are dedicated to lighting as part of the architectural design. Lighting designers utilize light for more than general lighting.
Light can set a mood and can be used to elicit specific psychological effects such as using cool blue light and stainless hardware at a dentist’s office to give off a clean and sterile impression. Using bright white light at a makeup counter to similarly portray the feeling of a clean, crisp, and health oriented atmosphere, where the makeup consultant will be perceived like a dermatologist – selling one products for their health benefit. The choice of a warm yellowish light in a residential lobby would be based on the fact that we have been trained over decades to associate the incandescent with hominess.
Choosing lighting options gets complicated when we consider factors like:
- The application: how we layout out a design to lead consumer to travel a specific path through a shop, or add a dramatic effect to landscaping
- Energy input: (allowable wattage) restrictions enforced by federal energy resolutions and locally adopted energy codes. Can we use as many fixtures as we had originally devised?
- Light output: How many lumens are we getting for the energy used? Do we need to switch technologies to meet requirements on both ends?
- Quality: If we switch to a more efficient lamp, is it compatible with our light fixture? Are we getting as much light output? More importantly, will the color rendering be of high quality to makes a stack of red sweaters pop in a boutique, or green celery look youthfully green, crisp and delicious in a high end grocery?
Another thing to consider is replicating a cross over design from abroad for a retail chains. It’s not a simple fixture for fixture look-a-like comparison. European and Asian countries, and the USA have different sets of energy restrictions. Additionally, these restrictions vary between residential and retail applications. So, a 1000 square foot store may not be allowed to use the same total watts in the USA as in another country. More efficient technology may be the answer, but it may not be enough. Rather than completely change the look of a brand by simply eliminating light, a lighting analysis may come in handy to identify light levels at key points and mimic the desired pattern.
The relationship and cooperative effort between lighting designer, architect, and lighting vendor is integral to successfully achieving a beautiful, efficient, profitable and welcoming result.