Design Is Key to Efficiency and Quality of Illumination

Posted: March 2, 2009 in Art and Design
Tags: , , , , ,

In response to a growing sentiment that “playful” design is doomed due to the demand to cut energy use, that we must give up quality to cut watts quantity. I could not disagree with this more. In fact design plays a much larger role in cutting energy use than anyone is, giving it credit for. In fact, I contend that design of an application plays a larger role than reaching for some ultimate efficiency number. The two renderings shown here were created in AGI32 using photometric data from available LED products. The effect of design on the quality of a space and its energy use are clearly illustrated. The only factor changed between these two renderings is the lighting system applied. All other factors are identical.

This "efficient" design uses products that generate high efficiency ratings, and meets the illuminance requirements necessary for vision. Yet, there is not a lot of interest here - the space just looks flat.

72Watts - This "efficient" design uses (6) 12W"high efficiency" luminares rated at 52 lumens per watt to meet the illuminance requirements necessary for the space - an average of 12 Fc throughout. Yet, there is not a lot of interest here - the space just looks flat. There is very little focus or dimensional definition beyond the physical objects themselves.

    40 Watts - This space uses more luminaires with narrower beam spreads, and lower efficiency - but of smaller wattage each. The result is greater definition of the space, more visual interest, and an energy savings of 48%!

40 Watts - This space uses (10) 4W medium efficiency luminaires at 39 lumens per watt, but much narrower beam spreads. The result is lower average illuminance (5Fc) but greater definition of the space that reinforces vision within the 3D space. Further, there is more visual interest and a central focus. Best of all - there is a realized energy savings of 48%!

Don’t buy into the baloney that energy conservation requires one must eschew design. Instead embrace the use of artful application of light to reduce the amount of light being thrown into a space from luminaires with poor control but high efficiency – use less light, with greater focus onto target surfaces. The art of lighting design is about design for vision, not meeting prescribed illuminance levels on some plane above the finished floor. The best designs create the most interesting and visually attractive space with the least amount of energy. We do not want to live in a world where the only qualifier of efficiency is the luminaire manufacturers data sheet above all else. Not only will this lead to greater energy consumption, it will reduce the quality of space we all live within for no reason. We need more design, more interest in the application of light, and less influence of purely empirical calculation.

Design has been devalued by those who believe lighting is something to be applied to meet minimum standards, that “effect” is a luxury that we can live without. This is why we live in offices with uniform illumination levels and flat surface rendering that gives us all headaches and eye strain. We know we don’t like it, ut live withit it. Why? Dynamic vision is created as much from the design of dark releif within a space, as it is from applying light onto horizontal planes within a calculation tool. The difference in these renderings are subtle in 2 dimensional presentation. In the 3D space we all live within, the effect is far greater and more readily felt and seen. With a greater degree of design expertise, we can realize greater energy savings AND an improvement in visual performance and quality.

Comments
  1. […] Great post on how innovative lighting can actually increase sustainability. Give it a read. […]

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