Last reviewed 30 December 2017

As one of the major shifts in energy conservation, LED lighting continues to play a key role in enabling managers to create efficient working spaces that benefit their organisations. Dave Howell reports.

What was once used for specialist applications, LED has continued to expand, and now offers luminaires for a wide-range of applications. According to figures from Yole Développement, the LED lighting module market (including flexible LED strips) reached nearly $4 billion in 2016 and is rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.6% during 2017–2022 to $13.8 billion.

LED lighting vendors are also looking for new market opportunities as the general LED lighting market has plateaued, as competition and price pressure has moved LED units into the commodity space. Yole Développement states: “General lighting is not a ‘blue ocean market’ any more due to strong price pressure and intense competition between LED players.”

Yole concludes: “LED companies are diversifying their activities and looking for market opportunities. These emerging market segments include horticultural lighting, automotive lighting and smart lighting, and are going beyond visible light into the IR or UV parts of the spectrum. All of these applications are attractive by showing much higher margins, compared to general lighting ones.”

For environment and facilities managers (FMs) looking at LED as a core of their innovation roadmaps, the continued development of the technology will deliver cost savings over the long-term. When lighting enters its renewal phase across their estates, there is little reason today not to choose LED.

Supporting their environmental protection efforts is also an area where LED lighting has made inroads. In their report, LightingEurope says: “By improving design for serviceability, the lighting industry can contribute concretely to the EU circular economy agenda. This is fully aligned with the Strategic Roadmap 2025 of LightingEurope, where the circular economy supports growth in intelligent lighting systems and human centric lighting.”

This supports the EU’s action plan to expand the circular economy, where the serviceability and recyclability of luminaires is considered. Environment managers are increasingly aware of the circular economy in other areas of their business operations. LED lighting is the latest component to come under its remit.

Is LED lighting now a proven technology? Billy Knight, CEO of LUX365 says: “LEDs can certainly be considered the future of lighting. Any facilities or environment manager that hasn’t adopted LED lighting is deliberately disadvantaging their business or has another income stream. LEDs have proven that they’re not only functional and efficient but can positively impact workplace wellbeing and boost productivity, all while saving on operational costs.”

One overriding aspect of this lighting technology that has matured is how it can be controlled. David Clements, Managing Director at FUTURE Designs commented: “The advent of tuneable white LED is the next major step in solid state lighting. A combination of innovation in technology and the drive towards wellness in the workplace, has meant that organisations are studying every element within a workplace and how it impacts upon the performance of the employee.”

Human impact

A report commissioned by the Society of Light and Lighting and Public Health England should be read by all environment and facilities managers, as it delivers insights into the human impact LED lighting can have. The report concludes that the LED lighting tested, posed no retinal damage risk when used according to their manufacturer’s guidelines.

Moreover, the report also states that LED should be used as one component of a lighting installation and not viewed in isolation. Also, the level of flicker that an LED light could emit and also the level of blue light that could disrupt sleep patterns need to be carefully considered. Environment managers should take qualified specialist advice before committing to an LED installation across their estates.

The development of human-centric lighting has been a major component of LED lighting development. Paul Jones, Sales Director for UK and Ireland at BEG, said: “According to research, exposure to natural daylight can increase productivity, reduce stress and improve sleep and circadian rhythms, improving the overall health and wellbeing of individuals in the workplace. Exposure to natural sunlight is also thought to increase the brain’s release of the hormone serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”

As organisations move away from fluorescent light, LEDs offer a level of control that includes colour temperature and brightness. This enables environment managers to tune the lighting they use across the estates they manage, as no two working spaces will need the same lighting installation. LEDs now offer this level of flexibility. This also enables managers to meet their responsibilities under Building Regulations (England) Part L1A 2013, that least 75% of the interior light fittings must be fitted with low energy lamps.

Lighting the way

Environment and FMs will need to closely monitor how LED lighting technology is advancing and how they can leverage the advantages it can bring to their businesses. Performance is levelling off, but control is still developing. What’s more, the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) will have a lighting component.

Steve Currier, UK Sales Director at Eaton said: “We’re still in the early stages regarding different protocols and competing for dominance. To those who may not be as familiar with the lighting space, I would suggest it’s like having Betamax, VHS, VideoDisc, LaserDisc, DVD, Blu-ray, Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon Prime all happening at once! As it’s such a fast-moving area, it’s very hard to predict — but it’s clear that the applications with a strong business proposition are the ones gaining the initial traction, including energy control and monitoring, footfall and hotspot counting, remote security and safety applications etc.”

New innovations such as the announcement from Osram that they will be weaving IoT lighting into clothing could be a move many across facilities management could take advantage of. “The textile illumination is incorporated into the safety clothing and ensures greater visibility and hence safety in day-to-day work, for example, on construction sites or in road traffic,” Osram said. “The key advantage of the new technology: Reflector strips on conventional work clothing only reflect incident light, while the light modules ensure active illumination at all times, thus improving safety when working in the dark or in poor visibility conditions.”

And the future of LED lighting? LUX365’s Billy Knight concluded: “I personally like the thought of organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) going mass-market. Instead of needlessly converting energy to heat, OLEDs have very little heat dissipation which saves energy and money. They’re used to create digital displays — everything from TV screens and computer monitors to games consoles. Their composition means that displays can be thinner and therefore lighter, and work exceptionally well in areas of low level lighting.”

Lighting is such a vital component of any working environment that it must be chosen with care and a clear understanding of not only the lighting technology in use, but how this could impact the workers in the space.

Environment managers have been expanding their use of LED lighting, as the technology has evolved, resolving many of the issues that plagued LEDs in the early days of their development. Today, LED is an accepted and essential component of a well-designed and lit workspace.