When Economic Justification of Connected Lighting Becomes Difficult
Making decisions to change the lighting system of a business are currently conducted by evaluating the listed economic metrics and then deciding if the business will reap tangible benefits for implementing the changes... While connected lighting has been proven to add tangible benefits such as reduced energy consumption there are other nontangible benefits that may be onerous to prove through current economic parameters.
When implementing new changes or procedures within a business, many look to justify such activities by conducting business case evaluations and reviewing economic metrics such as paybacks, rate of return, cost benefit analysis, etc. Making decisions to change the lighting system of a business are currently conducted by evaluating the listed economic metrics and then deciding if the business will reap tangible benefits for implementing the changes. In most cases, installation of LED lighting over other technologies such as fluorescent, halogen, incandescent, CFLs and HID need to be justified with an attractive payback and/ or rate of return. With their huge energy savings and competitive market prices LEDs are already achieving payback of less than 3 years in most cases and are an attractive business decision by themselves; so could adding connected lighting to an already efficient lighting system be justified? Strictly applying such economic metrics gets difficult when networked or connected lighting are considered. While connected lighting has been proven to add tangible benefits such as reduced energy consumption there are other nontangible benefits that may be onerous to prove through current economic parameters.
Many companies are highly prioritizing the comfort and wellbeing of their employees to maximize on employee productivity. Companies such as Google Inc. are investing in connected lighting to give employees more control of their environment and lighting. Companies are also implementing changes where in some cases employee comfort may supersede energy savings. For instance, let us say that an employee is hard at work after 8p.m. when most of the floor has emptied out and all the lights in her line of sight have been turned off due to no occupancy. Now instead of making her feel that she is alone by herself and working in an abyss of darkness some neighboring lights around her turn on and this may give her more comfort and she goes on working. Though in this scenario the energy savings may not be justified the business may be more interested in their employees’ comfort and productivity.
Other benefits may be realized by analyzing the data collected by the connected lighting system and making procedural changes within the business. For instance, by using lighting data many retail stores have been able to affectively position high-end products near areas with high foot traffic and make other merchandize positional changes. In industrial applications, businesses are using lighting data to track valuable assets such as forklifts which previously may have been time consuming to locate after shift change or other reasons; this could be a bigger problem in facilities with large floor spaces and many industrial facilities could be more than a million square feet. These features can help employees use their time more effectively and focus on the bottom line of the company.
Though these benefits are difficult to quantify, connected lighting may be adding value to the overall operation of a business. The human element is usually the hardest to quantify in any business case evaluation but it is hands down the most important element for the successful operation of any business.