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NEWS Last modified on November 7, 2016

BLOG: The operational and economic benefits of LED lighting

Over the last decade, we’ve been thrust into an era of technological advancement, providing new, viable alternatives to the aged and inefficient lighting solutions currently used in various airports across the US, writes Ron Sliney, vice president at Energy Source Inc.

Automation, coupled with the continual adoption and development of LED technology has provided airport facility managers with opportunities for cost and energy savings throughout the campus, from the terminals to parking lots and the tarmac, while creating a more visually appealing display.

There are two areas of focus for cost and energy savings when incorporating automated LED lighting into a facility, the first being with the LED itself.

The most frequently used lighting solution, metal-halide lamps, provided a feasible option to meet lighting needs 20 years ago, however, recent advancements have made this lighting form incredibly outdated and inefficient.

Overall, LED lighting solutions are approximately 40% to 60% more efficient than florescent and metal halide lighting technologies, giving facility managers a great opportunity for energy savings.

Metal-halide lamps utilised across the exterior of airports offer a 20,000-hour lifespan, compared to the 100,000-hour lifespan offered by current LED technologies.

This estimate does not account for lumen maintenance and inconsistent light output, a key factor often overlooked by facility maintenance managers.

Most metal-halide lamps only offer 60% lumen maintenance, resulting in a 30% loss of light output that occurs after only 5,000 hours of use, giving facilities lower quality light for three quarters of its lifespan.

Current LED technologies, however, offer approximately 92% lumen maintenance at 50,000 hours, meaning only 8% of the lighting output lost throughout half the LED’s lifespan. As a result, you have a better quality light that lasts longer and reduces overall operation and maintenance costs.

In addition, for exterior lighting systems, LED’s minimise lighting pollution, or the amount of lighting lost as traditional lamp and ballast solutions don’t have precautionary measures to direct light flow.

LEDs on the other hand feature an optic for directional lighting, targeting the light to the object’s surface such as a tar mark or a terminal entrance.

Diving even further into the offerings of LEDs, these types of lighting technologies often produce a better quality of the light, particularly with interior lighting fixtures.

Interior LEDs offer a greater colour rendering index (CRI); fluorescent fixtures like T8 and antiquated but still used T12 provide CRI’s of 75% and 52%, while LED fixtures can offer a CRI of up to 90% ,putting them even closer to the target of 100 CRI which is the equivalent of natural light with a clear, crisp colour.  

This clear colour enhances the airport’s aesthetics, providing a more pleasant look and feel across airport terminals and entrances.

The second area to consider for cost and energy savings is the incorporation of an Internet of Things (IoT) and the use of automation and controls for more efficient energy distribution.

IoT or internet-based smart control software provides airports provide the ability to monitor and quickly respond to all needs and goings-on throughout the entirety of the airport from a single screen.

With the incorporation of smart fixture technology, which connects all lighting systems to a single computer software, facility maintenance managers can evaluate the wattage of each fixture, identify maintenance functions needed, and control lighting output throughout all areas of the airport campus including the parking garages, interior locations, and exterior of the facility.

In areas such as the interior of airports, smart technologies enable controls such as daylight harvesting and dimming which can provide up to 10% in additional energy savings on top of the LED lighting fixture savings.

Lighting technologies offer airport facilities ample opportunities to save on both energy and costs thanks to new forms of automation and technological advancements. Simple upgrades to lighting fixtures both within the airport and throughout its surrounding structures can make all the difference in appearance and overall efficiency. 

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