Use daylight when your office is sunny and turn off some or all of the unneeded office lights.
Artificial lighting consumes some 40 percent of electricity in a typical office building, and close to one-fourth of all electricity generation in the U.S. Lighting consumes the equivalent of nearly half of all coal burned in the U.S., or the equivalent of all the hydroelectric power in the country.
Over the past two decades there has been a veritable technological revolution in lighting, resulting in ways to deliver high-quality light with 50 to 90 percent less energy consumption. When fully adopted worldwide, these improvements will displace the need for tens of thousands of power plants. But it still all begins with each person being aware of when artificial light is needed or not needed.
If you have blinds, leave them open and let the daylight in. Blinds are an integral component of improving a building’s environmental performance through a natural lighting design strategy. They are highly useful for reflecting harsh light towards the ceiling, especially the (unwanted) glare of morning sunlight and intense afternoon sun.
This fine-tuning is far preferable to entirely closing the blinds, which then requires turning on artificial lights (and air-conditioning to remove the unwanted heat caused by artificial lighting) that may not otherwise be necessary with the available daylight.
Turn off your office lights when leaving for 30 minutes or more.
It is a mistaken belief that turning off lights prematurely burns out the lamp. This may have been the case 20 years ago, but not with today's high-efficiency lamps and solid-state electronic ballasts. It especially makes no sense to leave on lights if you're going to be out of the room for 30 minutes or more. You may think, what's the big deal? But recognize that if 10 million office workers each turned off unnecessary lights 30 minutes a day this would eliminate the need for a 50 megawatt (MW) hydro-electric or coal plant. The savings would efficiently light 50 million square feet of office space.
In meeting rooms, turn on either ceiling lamps or fluorescent fixtures, but not both, in order to avoid excessive lighting levels that cause glare, eye strain, and fatigue.
Architects are notorious for over-specifying lighting levels. Swedish lighting experts found current recommended lighting levels vary 20-fold for various office building activities across 19 countries. Almost without exception, there was a steady increase in levels from the 1930s to the early 1970s. They have been declining since, although they still remain high. A fundamental thing to remember about light levels is that higher amounts (illumination is measured in units called lux, or footcandles) does not equate into better seeing.
The human eye perceives things through contrast not light levels per se. So flooding the room with excess lux only leads to glare, discomfort and fatigue for many people. Be experimental and try different lighting arrangements, turning on some but not all fixtures. Don't simply turn on all the lights and assume this is the best situation. Just because the architect provided extra lights doesn't mean they all must be turned on. Do recognize that initially your eyes will perceive the room darker when you turn off some lights, but they will adjust within a few minutes and the room will appear to have a normal or acceptable level of lighting.
Turn off lights in meeting and conference rooms when not being used (either by yourself or by others who forgot to turn off lights).
Considerable electricity is wasted each day as a result of leaving on the lights in unoccupied meeting and conference rooms. In a building with a dozen meeting rooms, each with 500 watts or more of lighting fixtures, saving one hour of wasted lighting each day results annually in eliminating the need for 1500 kWh of electricity and preventing the release of nearly three tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.
Or have the owners of the building install occupancy sensors that automatically turn off lights five to 10 minutes after the room is emptied, and automatically turn on the lights whenever a person enters the room.
If needed, consider using an Energy Star Labeled desk lamp or floor lamp and turn off some or all of the ceiling lights in your office.
Some employees dislike the feel of overhead lighting, potentially due to the lighting being too intense, or too bright. Not surprisingly, people sometimes switch to task lamps on their desks, while turning off the overhead fixtures, which can reduce glare and eye strain, and provide better focused lighting. Others use floor lamps that illuminate the ceiling, but less intensely than ceiling fixtures. While task and floor lamps are excellent options, some desk and floor lamps are seriously inefficient.
The worst option, by far, is the halogen torchiere, a freestanding floor lamp with a shallow bowl-shaped light fixture mounted on top of a 6-foot pole and illuminated by a tubular halogen bulb requiring a monstrous 250 to 500 Watts. This extremely inefficient lamp is also a major fire hazard and burn risk due to the very high temperature of the halogen bulb. The multi-hundred Watt bulb consumes four or more times electricity to provide the same lighting as a high-efficiency compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) torchiere, and ten times more Watts than a CFL desk task lamp.
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