Considering we used incandescent and fluorescent lighting for the last century and that a mere few years ago LED lighting was considered not yet ready for prime time, LED technology is now moving at warp speed.

I personally consider it a great bandwagon to get on. Its benefits are numerous: lower maintenance; long life; heat loss reduction; immediate bright light; nothing toxic (we’re talking mercury); cooler in both the literal and figurative senses; and, most of all, huge energy savings.

There are some negatives including high cost, which has to be put into the perspective of LEDs very long life and that prices are going down almost daily; quality, depending on what bulbs you buy and where they were manufactured; and that LED light is more focused, perfect for recessed lights, not so much for lighting your entire living room with the wonderful warm glow that incandescent bulbs provided.

With incandescent bulbs no longer an option (they were banned from manufacture and import in 2007), that leaves compact fluorescent lighting or CFLs as the other contender to LEDs. There are pros and cons to both types of lighting but the consensus is that CFLs will be overrun by LED lighting and can be viewed as an intermezzo before moving into LEDs.

As the future is lighting is here, the next big question for commercial property owners is do I dive head first and deep into a full lighting replacement or do the retrofit equivalent of dipping in a big toe?

The answer is it depends. CFLs will illuminate a large area with bright light, unlike LEDs. They are more familiar and less expensive. They will last a long time but not as long as LED lighting. They cost less, but LED lighting is decreasing in price rapidly and, because they last longer, eventually cost less than CFLs.

There are a lot of technicalities that are best left to lighting experts to explain and for building managers to analyze. LED, for example, comes in two options: luminaires with LED boards and luminaires with tubular shaped modular LED engines. CDLs are less expensive but they cannot be put on a dimmer switch and contain mercury.

If the full building, dive-in approach isn’t right for your building or feasible for your budget, phase in new lighting on a one by one decision basis. Cost savings can also be realized with a drop-in LED retrofit kit.

LED lighting continues to become more efficient. Today, energy savings of over 30% can be realized. With that kind of savings, buildings can recoup their LED investment in a few short years. There are also rebates available depending on the lighting products you buy and install.

LED lighting products have now reached a point in price, efficiency and energy savings that they are of value to everyone from the CFO whose budget had to take a hit to install them to facilities managers who are seeing much less lighting maintenance to tenants who may well be seeing an increase in productivity. LEDs have gone from leading the way to a lighting revolution to being the way to light now and well into the future.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services