Lighting Indoors and Out for Safety, Efficiency, Comfort, and Security


Yesterday, we provided tips for improving workplace lighting to boost safety and productivity. Today, we offer some tips from Facebook on indoor lighting as well as advice from DOE on outdoor lighting.

Facebook, which is always a consistent innovator in technology and media, is now leading the way in energy efficiency, says BLR Legal Editor and Green Team member Amanda Czepiel, J.D. According to Naveen Lakshmipathy, a 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Facebook, the company’s new 1 million square foot office campus can teach other companies three lessons in energy efficiency.

1. Plan ahead. The best way to integrate lighting energy efficiency without losing good design is to involve many people in the design process, from architects to engineers to energy efficiency experts, to ensure that all factors are considered from the start of the design process. For example, walls can be painted in appropriate shades to reflect light where it is best to do so.

2. Know how you want your lighting system to behave. If you want to use lighting controls such as occupancy and daylight sensors to vary light levels and optimize energy efficiency, you must plan ahead of time how you want your system to behave and test its functions.

3. Remember productivity and occupant comfort. There is a direct relationship between workplace comfort and increased productivity, so effectively using daylight to reduce the use of artificial lighting and eliminating overlighted or underlighted areas should be a priority.

Outdoor Lighting

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, effective lighting for safety and security should consider:

Horizontal illuminance. This is the standard for assessing effective lighting primarily because many tasks are horizontal and the measurements are easy to make. However, this is less critical for security than other metrics such as vertical illuminance and uniformity.

Vertical illuminance. This is critical because one of the main security issues is identifying persons and vehicles and their movement that is best done by viewing their vertical surfaces.

Uniformity and shadows. This is important primarily to avoid dark areas where people or objects may be hidden. Uniformity has also been found to be useful in enhancing video camera effectiveness.

Glare. Lighting aimed in the wrong direction can cause glare that can adversely affect the ability of occupants and security personnel to identify people and/or objects.

Furthermore, research shows that simply increasing light levels or maintaining high lighting levels does not necessarily promote or maintain enhanced safety or security. It is primarily factors associated with the placement and quality of exterior lighting that enhances facility and employee safety and security outside your workplace.


Light Up Your Workplace with Safer, Healthier Lighting


Light is a force that has a powerful impact on the human body. Studies have shown that dedicated applications of lighting can have an effect on all aspects of a worker's experience, including reduction in accidents, illness, eyestrain, and absenteeism.

Lighting in the average workplace ranges from 50 to 500 lux (a measurement of illumination equal to the intensity of one candle). Research has shown that proper use of lighting can lessen the loss of alertness, production errors, and accidents, especially among nightshift workers and those on rotating shifts.

A 60-watt incandescent bulb in a 10-foot-high ceiling will produce only about 100 lux at eye level. Studies show that carefully timed exposure to bright light (over 1,000 lux) decreases fatigue and increases alertness.

You may want to have your facility manager assess the wattage of lights over workstations, check for burned-out bulbs, and make sure lighting fixtures are dusted and cleaned periodically.

Supplemental lighting with lamps, rather than more overhead lighting, can be added at workstations as needed to adequately illuminate tasks.

Interior Colors

Interior colors, especially in production areas, should be of medium value. Therefore, dark-colored carpeting and flooring, window treatments, walls, and cubicles may not be the best choice. Dark colors also absorb light, thus requiring the use of more wattage—and electricity—to illuminate an area. On the other hand, light or bright colors can contribute to glare and eyestrain.

Surface Reflectants

Make sure that lighting is diffused through baffles or bounced off surfaces in such a way that serious shadows and glare are avoided. Use of matte finishes, rather than glossy or polished surfaces, is also recommended for work areas.

Types of Lighting

  • Incandescent. This type of lighting was invented by Thomas Edison and has been used for over 100 years. Modern technology has reduced glare through the development of soft white, reflector, linestra, and other types of bulbs.
  • Halogen. This type of bulb is often used in task lighting and track lighting because it saves energy.
  • Fluorescent. New energy-saving fluorescent bulbs can be used as direct replacements for incandescent bulbs. They give more realistic color quality and can save as much as 75 percent in energy cost.
  • Full-spectrum. These new bulbs simulate the full-spectrum light of natural sunshine. Not only do they reduce eyestrain, but they have the added dimension of improving mood, especially during the shorter days of winter or for night workers. Studies also show that worksites with full-spectrum lighting have half the absenteeism for illness than those that do not.
  • Sunlight. It is obvious, but the effective use of natural sunlight to reduce the use of artificial lighting and eliminate overlighted or underlighted areas should be a priority.