Cost Advantages of Lighting Design Services
The involvement of a professional lighting designer in a project can assure long-term cost-savings in terms of equipment, operations, people, and aesthetics.
Equipment Cost Control
A lighting designer may either provide a design to meet an established budget, or may help to establish the budget early in the design phase. The lighting designer will select equipment from numerous manufacturers to help keep bids competitive and/or recommend lighting equipment or techniques to reduce installation costs. Because a lighting designer does not manufacture, sell or install equipment, his or her involvement in the project may serve to encourage competition, for example:
- Negotiating One-of-a-Kind Pricing - If the luminaire is "one of a kind," the lighting designer may be helpful in obtaining an agreed upon price from the manufacturer.
- Identifying Lowest-Cost Unit Pricing - In other instances, unit pricing may be obtained independently and compared with that of the bidding contractors. The designer also may recommend distributors who will furnish additional competitive pricing. Finally, the professional lighting designer will work with the owner's representative and contractors to achieve cost objectives without sacrificing design objectives.
Operations Cost Control
Methods to reduce long-term operations costs may be an important consideration for the owner. A professional lighting designer's life cycle cost analysis will demonstrate the return on initial investment benefits of certain techniques or technologies. There are numerous ways in which a professional designer can introduce cost reduction methods to benefit the project, for example:
- Avoiding Over-Lighting - In some areas, costs can be reduced simply by not over-lighting a space. Over-lighting is common when visual issues are not understood, or when "going by the book" in determining "foot-candle" requirements. Over-lighting also may occur if the recommendations of individuals who sell equipment are relied upon too heavily.
- Improving Reflectance and Integrating Daylight - Additionally, improving the reflectance value of a surface can help reduce lighting costs, as well as integrating daylight with electric light.
The quality of light affects people costs. New studies are demonstrating the effects of lighting on retail sales, office productivity, and the ability to attract people to commercial downtown districts after dark. Lighting designers are keenly aware of these issues, as well as the techniques recommended for achieving positive results.
Technical skill can be learned, but talent cannot. The "value-added" for good, creative design is difficult to assess, and will depend upon the appreciation of the decision-makers. However, the difference between great and average lighting design is very apparent.