Lights of Transformation

Lights Of Transformation

Switching over to energy efficient office lighting might put a strain on the treasure trove, but the ensuing rewards are more than bountiful, reports S. D. Khan

The offices of Company A and Company B were located just at a stone's throw from each other. And there were quite a few similarities between the two entities. Both were involved in a similar business and their inceptions also coincided. What matters the most, their top and bottom lines were also satisfactory, though Company A was gradually inching ahead. Yet there was a stark contrast between the two; a difference that's usually not reflected in balance sheets but has an impact on financial performance sooner or later.

Every weekday as the clock struck 9:30 AM, Company A's premises became a melting pot of freshness, joviality, and a new zeal. Employees always walked into the office with smiles on their faces and despite corporate rigours, the mood stayed upbeat till the end of the day. On the contrary, dullness typified Company B's environs. People literally dragged themselves to work, stoop shouldered and gloomy. Although they enjoyed higher remunerations than their Company A counterparts, Company B's employees were filled with a sense of underachievement.

Mr. X, a job aspirant, quickly sensed this palpable difference and decided to let go of Company B's more lucrative offer in favour of Company A's. He found the latter's environment more welcoming, healthy, and lively. Well, the fact of the matter is that some years back, Company A had revamped the entire lighting equipment wherein conventional fixtures were replaced with the modern energy efficient ones. Consequently, every nook and corner of the building such as corridors, rooms, alleys, conference halls, cafeteria, cubicles, and even washrooms wore a new look. The incoming natural light was making the surroundings even more pleasant, adding to the 'feel good factor'.

The adoption of 'green' lighting was an expensive proposition but had positive bearings on Company A's profitability. Good ergonomics translated into employee productivity, and simultaneously, the debit side of Profit & Loss A/C showed reduced electricity overheads with every fiscal. More importantly, the company was contributing to the global sentiment of energy conservation and now enjoys the coveted LEED rating. It's true that these two companies have a hypothetical existence, but it's equally true that 'good' lighting at the workplace is as essential as a cog in the wheel.

Well, corporate India has started developing an inclination towards eco-friendly lighting but it's still a long way to go before we witness the Company A model becoming the new normal!

As a matter of fact....

Industry experts are eagerly waiting for the new dawn of 'green' lighting at the workplaces. Dr. Ganesh Arunachalam, Vice Chairman – Invest Group, says, "Even after six years of its emergence, LED lighting for office has not reached any sustainable levels and is considered for replacement only for common areas like corridors, staircases, rest rooms, and lobbies. Functionally and technically, LED lighting solutions can replace any lighting requirements of an office irrespective of its size /pattern." Notably, Invest is an Indo-British partnership venture that has recently laid anchor in the country. The company offers a vast range of LED lighting solutions for commercial applications.

Nevertheless, he observes a change in trends. "The market penetration of energy efficient office lighting products is at a very slow pace; less than 2% of available market. But with descending costs, and ascending quality and efficiency of LED lighting solutions, it is likely to improve over the next few years."

LED Light

Taral Trivedi
Well, offices, by the virtue of being one of the major electricity consumers, can take the lead in energy conservation. Mr. Taral Trivedi, Sales Leader – Central Leader, Lutron GL Sales and Services Pvt. Ltd, opines, "Blackouts across India revealed a lot regarding the severity of India's energy crisis, looking ahead towards the future, India must increase its energy production by 6.5 percent annually to maintain a 9 percent growth rate. This growth rate will result in rapid urbanization—India's building-occupied area is projected to skyrocket from 8 billion square meters to 41 billion in near future. Incorporating energy efficiency measures in these new buildings will help India meet its energy needs and increase its energy security."

Energy efficiency

Lutron is the world's leading name in lighting controls and dimmers, and has been present in India for more than 15 years. He continues, "Energy efficiency is the fastest, cleanest, and cheapest way to meet energy needs. India could save $42 billion each year by improving energy efficiency in buildings. If developers across India implemented standard energy efficiency measures in new construction and major retrofits, the country could avoid the need for 2,988 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity. State and local governments, real estate developers, and financial institutions are particularly critical to the successful development and implementation of energy-efficient buildings."

Lakshman Rao
Mr. Lakshman Rao, Managing Director - Kakatiya Energy Systems, an energy management company, informs, "There is rising awareness of the value of energy efficiency products and services in India, just as there is across the world. Energy efficient office lighting is a growing segment of the overall growing market demand for energy efficient products and services in India. Businesses feel the pinch of wasted energy very acutely because every kilowatt-hour wasted through inefficient products and processes represents money that could have gone toward growing the business and earning greater returns. In terms of market size, a recent KEN Research report stated that the Indian lighting market has grown at a CAGR 12.8% from 2005-2011, with a USD 2.1 billion market in 2011. Energy efficient lighting represents a portion of that market that should continue to grow, especially with the added support from government programs and continued awarenessraising activities."

He foresees, "As energy costs continue to rise, future prospects for energy efficient office lighting are very good because the ROI on energy efficient investments becomes shorter and shorter making them an obvious choice for businesses."

Sanjay Sheth
Affirms Mr. Sanjay Sheth, Director – Suraj Universal, "It was a very pleasant surprise to see that most of the people I approached with the Solatube product offering are very well informed about Energy Efficient Lighting systems. At present, they are replacing the conventional tubelights and CFLs with LEDs. But since LEDs also consume some energy, they are very much interested in installing Zero energy Solatube TDS in offices, where substantial energy cost is towards lighting during daytime working hours, and in the manufacturing and storage areas where considerable savings can be achieved by using Solatubes."

Tubular daylighting
Incorporated in 2011, Suraj Universal is the Indian channel partner of US-based Solatube Daylighting Systems, a globally renowned name in Tubular Daylighting Systems. Solatube's products enable sunlight to enter the premises of a building, and are used worldwide in offices, industries, warehouses, and homes.

"The Energy Efficient (I prefer addressing this as Zero Energy) Lighting market," he continues, "is in the nascent stages in India. However, the awareness amongst the consumers and their willingness to adapt to this eventuality is very encouraging. The ever increasing electricity tariff is the primary growth driver. Accumulating carbon credits and getting the prestigious LEED certification also prompt customers to go for Zero energy daylighting solutions."

What is it that you wish to see?

In his much celebrated book 'Learning to See: A Matter of Light', the global lighting doyen Howard M. Brandston poses this interesting question to the lighting designers. He further probestheir credentials by asking, "Is the lighting creative? Innovative? Does the lighting enhance our quality of life?"

Kapil Handa
This implies that the utmost objective of lighting, be it the workplace or home, is to fulfil the functionality. In other words, 'good' lighting is all about just the right quantum of light at the right place. So, it's all about intent. According to Mr. Kapil Handa, who lends architectural services from his Noida-based firm Studio DRA, "Light has to work functionally and fulfill the requirements. When it comes to offices, the universally accepted norm is 250 – 300 lux. Today, the market is brimming with a vast range of lighting solutions with which these lux levels can be achieved. But it also depends on the clients' budget, awareness level, and environment consciousness."

'Doing More with Less' is how we judge the viability of any resource, and a designer seldom deviates from this norm. Mr. Handa reasons this out logically, "We try to lessen the dependency on artificial light and always keep 10% of the design as glazing. The idea is to have ample open space, less partitions, and natural ventilation."

Undoubtedly, expert advice holds the key. "People have started relating relaxed environment to warm lighting and have woken up to the concept of lighting design. There's a paradigm shift to green lighting.

But clients usually don't decide the lighting solutions for their buildings because, most of the times, they don't even know how much light is required at a particular place. Yes, they are keen on a green rating but they also have predetermined budgets at their disposal. It's here where the role of a designer becomes paramount. But I personally believe that technology answers all the budgets at the end of the day. In the Manufacturing Segment, the Lighting Industry took the lead in coming up with star rated products," he notes.

Talking of Technology....

Retrofit Lighting Control
The office lighting market abounds with innovative wares and companies are offering fixtures especially designed to meet the requirement. For instance, Invest Group's LED-based lighting fixtures are meant for institutions, projects, and channel sales. "While our flagship brand Innolux will cater to office lighting to a greater extent for internal lighting solutions, Innoflex would be suitable for decorative external lighting. So it is Innolux/ Innoflex for Institutional and projects and Innoled for channel sales mode," informs Mr. Arunachalam.

He adds, "It's our Chairman's vision to bridge the growing gulf between energy supply and demand and to make sure sophisticated and reliable LEDs within the reach of not only a few wealthy but also across the spectrum. Also we have a dream to make India lead the way on the lighting innovation and cutting edge technology using indigenous talent and setting up world class manufacturing facilities."

Highly appreciative of Solatube's products, Mr. Sheth avers, "As a vendor I visit manufacturing plants and offices of many domestic and multinational companies where they need to switch on the office lights and high bay lights even during the day time. For the shop floor they have the polycarbonate transparent sheets installed on the roof. The problem with these transparent sheets is that they transmit a non-uniform light pattern and transmit heat to the shop floor below. For offices, except for the windows on one wall they do not have any solution for bringing in natural daylight. This prompted me to search for a product which would consume Zero energy and offer a comfortable environment for the people in the offices and the workers on the shop floor. I came across Solatube Daylighting Systems which fit the bill and deliver the needful. LEDs are most commonly used to replace conventional lighting. As I said earlier, LEDs also consume energy. We offer products which, besides consuming Zero energy, also provide benefits like increased productivity and better human performance."

Highlighting the role of automation in lighting, Mr. Trivedi states,"Lutron offers simple retrofit lighting controls to improve employee comfort and productivity, while saving energy. Standalone means that these solutions operate independent of one another. Multiple rooms containing these controls cannot be tied together and operated as a single system. These solutions are the simplest way to start saving energy today. Lutron doesn't sell any lighting fixtures but only lighting control products. For office products, we have scalable lighting control solutions such as RPS - The Radio Powr Savr™ wireless occupancy sensor and Rania® wireless RF switch combination, which offer a truly retrofit energy-saving solution that installs in minutes and is guaranteed to save you time and money."

Different Settings in Prebuilt Office Space
He continues, "The Clear ConnectTM RF Technology ensures reliable wireless communication. Radio Powr Savr™ occupancy/vacancy sensor easy-install RF occupancy sensor requires no wires and saves energy by automatically turning lights on and off based on space occupancy; features include a 10-year battery life, cutting edge XCT™ technology for small motion detection, and the ability to link up to 3 sensors for added coverage. ESN - Energi Savr Node QS™ a modular approach to light control systems that allows infinite flexibility for designing and reconfiguring any space; this simple, programmable solution connects DALI ballasts (by other manufacturers), 0-10 V ballasts, or switching fixtures to wired or wireless sensors and controls for energy management. Quatum QS systems can be easily scaled to control multiple floors, an entire building, or an entire campus. Facility managers can configure, control, manage, monitor, and report on all the lighting in a building from a central location. By maximising the use of daylight and minimising waste, Quantum allows you to save significant amounts of energy and protect the planet."

According to him, Lutron is committed to help its customers find ways to save energy and all of Lutron's lighting control systems enable customers to reduce electricity usage and extend lamp life significantly. "In addition, our range of shade and blind controls allow natural light levels to be maximized, offering the ultimate in efficient artificial and natural lighting control. Lutron leads the industry in controlling energy efficient light sources and full-range dimming is now possible for a wide range of fluorescent lamp types. The trend toward LED lighting for accent and general lighting is growing, and Lutron is there to control it all," he asserts.

Meanwhile, Kakatiya Energy Systems has recently launched the Nature Switch™ Indoor lighting control system. Nature Switch™ Indoor is an affordable, off–the-shelf alternative to traditional lighting controls, specially designed to automate indoor light switches based on lumen levels selected, reducing energy wastages normally associated with manual operation by up to 20%. According to Mr. Rao,"With benefits of energy savings, user friendliness, reduced labor costs, and easy installation process, Nature Switch™ Indoor is uniquely advantageous for industrial and commercial establishments. It employs a patented advanced multi-spectral sensor technology which is capable of sensing multiple bands on the electromagnetic spectrum and ensures flicker free lighting."

He informs, "Nature Switch™ Indoor can easily replace traditional lighting controls by a simple integration into the main switchboard, avoiding the need to replace light bulbs and switches. Additional features like over and under voltage trip and overload trip are provided to offer protective features beyond automated switching. In an area of about 3,000 sqft, with a lighting load of 1,000 watt (Rs.6/kwh), deployment of Nature Switch™ Indoor can avoid wastage of over 2 hours each day, saving Rs.10,512 over the course of one year. This saving is enormous especially when lighting is a major part of electricity consumption contributing significantly to peak load. "Nature Switch™ Indoor delivers immediate energy savings for industrial and commercial establishments, while at the same time providing an optimum lighting environment. The automated lighting control eases maintenance staff workload so they can be repurposed for more critical job functions."

Oh Yes, Lest We Forget...

If India is to fulfil its long cherished desire of saving those precious watts, policymakers will have to come to the fore with intent. Industry experts feel that here we can emulate the westerners who have proved that energy saved is energy created. Citing a vivid example, Mr. Sheth suggests, "Green Lighting technology in India is still a long way from that in many developed countries. It might be too late if we wait for the development to happen and implementation to be cost–effective. Dutyfree imports and Government incentives will encourage more people to focus their resources in this area. Sample this -"The savings in energy from daylighting are so demonstrably significant that the revised California building code, Title 24, requires every large-space big-box retailer, warehouse or low-rise facility with an area greater than 25,000 square feet directly under a roof with ceiling heights greater than 15 feet and a lighting power density greater than 0.5 watts per square foot to light at least 50% of the area with daylight." (Journal of Property Management, July 2004). Some kind of a regulation on these lines can also be considered here."

Expecting a helping hand from the Centre, Mr. Arunachalam states, "Invest would welcome any positive approach from the Government such as faster approvals for buildings coming out with GI – green initiatives- (policy), assign/take guidance of relevant experts to monitor the same (framework) and offer special privileges for those adopting GI or differential electricity tariffs (regulations)."

Mr. Rao echoes this sentiment, "Now the Indian Government is coming up with numerous energy efficiency initiatives like Green Buildings by Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Energy Conservation Building Codes (ECBC), Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA), star ratings by Bureau of Energy Efficiency, etc. for employment of green technologies in buildings in India. The government of India should continue to support energy efficiency across the board."

Chalking out a comprehensive roadmap, he suggests, "The government should promote community solar energy based LED lighting especially for rural and remote areas in order to achieve economies of scale along with providing funding for these communities. The community funding when compared to individual subsidy provision can ensure a speedy adoption of renewable energy based energy efficient lighting. This also ensures good maintenance support by the supplier of the equipment at the ground level when monitored by the entire community headed by a Panchayat or village council. The government should extend the star rating to controls that can help in conserving energy. Presently the star rating is limited to appliances or devices that consume energy. Any product that aids in reducing energy wastage has to be encouraged in order to reach the ultimate goal of reducing emissions. BEE has to support this process."

Mr. Trivedi sees the builders' fraternity as a catalyst in the 'Green Lighting' drive. "Some leading developers are building more efficiently. Yet, the developer community needs to become more aware of the reduced costs and energy savings from energy-efficient buildings. Many developers perceive a "higher upfront cost of efficiency measures" as an obstacle, even though such measures pay for themselves. The upfront cost barrier is more pronounced in tenant-occupied buildings since the building owner is responsible for the upfront capital costs, while tenants enjoy the resulting energy savings. Local standards, such as energy efficiency building codes, can level the playing field among developers and accelerate the construction of energyefficient buildings."

Clearly, the lighting stalwarts foresee a new dawn of energy conservation in India, and this is reflected in their bouquet of offerings. All they expect is a prioritization of political will in this direction. And as more corporates get onto the green bandwagon, the lights of transformation will continue to glisten in the country.
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