Part IV: To Invest or Not to Invest? Solving the Facility Manager’s Quandary about Lighting Upgrades

This is the fourth and final in a series of posts designed to help facility managers build a case for spending money on lighting system upgrades.

Making a strong case for funding a lighting system upgrade is a fine balance. Overselling benefits such as productivity increases and maintenance savings can actually hurt your case.

Keep it realistic

Assigning a large dollar amount due to a perceived occupant productivity gain is tempting because it seems reasonable. After all, a more attractive, better-designed space should equate to a happy, more productive staff. Since workers’ salaries are the highest expense a company has, a slight one percent increase in productivity translates into a significant bottom-line figure. Studies link worker satisfaction and higher productivity with indoor environmental quality, of which proper lighting is a strong contributor.

So how can you translate benefits cited in general research to your facility? Retrofit part, then survey workers in both parts, including complaints from those in the area that hasn’t been retrofitted. However, the specific percent gain in productivity is still a guesstimate.

Quantifiable maintenance savings

Installing longer-lasting fluorescent or LED lamps means long term improved lumen maintenance. Chances are you won’t be able to downsize maintenance staff, but rather redirect saved time into other maintenance activities. However, if you’re paying an energy service provider (ESCO) to maintain lighting quality, and you only have to change lamps an average of every 7 years instead of 3, you should include this as part of your return-on-investment (ROI) calculation. Plus, if lamps are being changed after hours and installers are being paid overtime, the reduction is even more significant.

Finally but no less important

Two last guidelines for building an ROI justification for a lighting system upgrade. Know your organization’s hot buttons—its priorities and goals—and weave them into your case. Remember, taking a conservative approach is best to avoid over-promising and under-delivering.

Engineered Products Company Inc. (EPCO) is the premier brand supplier of specialty products to electrical distributors and contractors. Headquartered in Minnetonka, MN (a suburb west of Minneapolis), EPCO has supported the electrical industry since 1976 by supplying a broad range of standard and unique consumables for commercial, industrial, residential and agriculture buildings.