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Workspace Environment


Lighting Today's Workspace: Experts talk about the impact of LED Lighting in offices


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Workspace Environment


When considering the amount of lighting needed in the average office workspace, more isn’t always better. Over-lighting the workspace through the exclusive use of recessed overhead lighting not only wastes energy and money but is also the main culprit blamed for common employee ailments such as a headache and eyestrain. Whether you work in a cubicle of a corporate building or in your own home, the quantity and quality of lighting can either boost or degrade business performance depending on how well-designed it is. Experts link poor workspace lighting with lower morale, headache and eye strain in employees while conversely appropriate lighting in offices and other workspaces is known to enhance employee performance by keeping them active and comfortable.

For improved office lighting and therefore better productivity, business owners are more and more making the switch to LED lighting. The main reasons for their choice of LED lights for workspaces are their enormous energy cost savings and flexible designs plus of course they’re so much safer and better for our environment. Taking a cue from this, Dubai Municipality's general maintenance department has implemented projects to conserve energy and rationalise consumption at its facilities. Ordinary lighting has been replaced with LED alternatives at numerous developments, Eng Jaber Al Ali, Director of the General Maintenance department, was quoted in reports.

He added, “As a result of the replacement of old lighting with quality LED lamps, we have achieved average savings of about 60%. The department has given great importance to the issue of awareness and guidance in the operational areas because of its positive impact on the good operation of facilities and technical systems.” This definitely proves that there has been a shift in the way people are looking at lighting solutions these days. Talking to lighting and workspace experts, Megha S Anthony reports the importance and impact LED lighting has in workspaces.

Changing Scenario

Today the world needs more light, more energyefficient light, and more connected digital light. Over the years, building technology has evolved to accommodate the growing needs of residents and commercial enterprises. However, while lighting continues to be majority significant consumer of a building’s energy resources, the right light can provide energy and resource savings and increase people’s comfort, productivity, and safety. When it comes to LED lighting, experts believe that there has been a shift in the way people perceive it. “In the early days, LED manufacturers were adapting existing light fittings to a LED source, but quite often the fittings did not give an aesthetically pleasing result as they could generate glare as they were not using fittings designed for this very specific type of lighting. However, the massive shift from old technology lamps to LED lamps has stimulated creativity in the design of LED light fittings. There is now a very wide range of fittings available to suit most applications,” says Matthew Sexton, Director of Corporate Interiors, Perkins+Will.

According to David Clements, MD, Future Designs, there has been a quantum leap during the last four or five years with the advent of LED becoming the lighting medium of choice. “Aesthetic possibilities have given the architect and design professions a greater freedom due to its flexibility and the massive reduction in carbon usage has helped see a huge drive in the direction of LED,” he adds.

Philips Lighting is focusing on accelerating the shift to energy efficient lighting. Currently lighting accounts for 15 percent of the world’s electricity demand. A global transition to LED technology will bring energy savings of 53 percent by 2030. They are reducing the global energy demand with their commitment to delivering more than 2 billion LED lamps by 2020. The Internet of Things is further accelerating this reduction – Philips Lighting’s connected systems with wireless controls can reduce their customers’ energy use by up to 80 percent and enable its customers to create new experiences and unlock new value from apps and services. “Advances in technology have enabled for us to achieve long-term energy savings that can be made through improving the quality of the design as well as conserving energy once the building is operational,” says Olav Scholte, Segment Marketing Manager at Philips Lighting, who goes on to add that there is now a growing demand for smart lighting solutions and sustainable products, systems and services.

Is the industry ready?

With the DM initiative to introduce Dubai Lamps by 2020 in all buildings, one wonders if the market is really ready to take on LED fixtures at the workspace. Experts say that the market is more than ready to take on this challenge. By law, all federal buildings need to implement energy saving measures and Dubai Municipality has taken this a step further by announcing recently that all newly constructed buildings in Dubai will soon have to install LED lights.

Scholte adds that the residential and commercial sector has been slow to follow suit but due to the current economic conditions and the growing need for energy saving measures, any new construction or renovation is considering sustainable energy solutions. “Shifting over to energy efficient resources is a necessity for governments today in light of the growing pressures they face in ensuring the health and well-being of its residents, with many of them already leading the drive and UAE is no exception to this. At the same time with several global architectural firms handling some of the active projects, there is a proactive commitment to subscribe to building codes such as LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards,” he adds.

Sexton too believes that the market is ready for this boom. He says that the industry has already responded to LED technology and it is already far more widely used in buildings. “Manufacturers initially adapted existing fittings to use LED lamps, which did not have the best outcome but was the most rapid response to Municipality demands. Now manufacturers have developed their product range specifically for LED lamp technology. All major manufacturers produce LED light fittings and some have moved almost entirely to LED,” adds Sexton.

However, Clements does note that while they have provided LED Schemes to major blue chip companies in the UAE, the region is still slightly behind UK and Europe. “UAE is still slightly behind UK and Europe when it comes to adopting LED Technology and shall reap the benefits due to much of the pioneering mistakes and issues having been ironed out in the early days,” adds Clements.


Lighting, especially its intensity, colour, and glare have proven to impact workplace moods and productivity. It has also been established that providing local control of lighting can increase job satisfaction (and decrease the experience of stress). LED lighting today gives consumers and businesses the opportunity and flexibility to control various aspects of personal exposure to lighting according to specific needs.

“We have a number of examples where our advanced LED connected lighting system has created a connected, comfortable, and intelligent working environment for both employees and guests. Smartworld, an Etisalat and Dubai South joint venture company, has digitally transformed its headquarters thanks to the Philips Lighting Power over Ethernet (PoE) connected office lighting system and Cisco Digital Ceiling framework. The implementation of this project brought together our advanced LED connected lighting system with Cisco’s secure IT network offering highly personalized user experiences that improve occupant productivity, safety and comfort while delivering substantial business value, improving building efficiency and sustainability and lowering operating costs,” explains Scholte.

In the early days of LED lamp technology, Sexton says that there were some limitations on how much the lamp could be dimmed as they were not as flexible as fluorescent lamps. “However, this is no longer the case. LED allows much more flexibility in dealing with bespoke illumination requirements such as decorative solutions, feature lighting, shapes and shadow gaps. Lamp life for a LED is around 50,000 hours compared to fluorescents at 12,000 – 20,000 hours, but LED lamps are now almost the same price as high-efficiency fluorescents. Consequently, maintenance costs are significantly reduced,” adds Sexton.

Energy conservation is a huge and the most prominent benefit of LED. Clements says that one can see carbon reductions of up to 60% due to the physicalities of LED allowing complete areas of office luminaires to be illuminated. “Huge increase in product life means reduction in maintenance costs and the very latest benefit is that offered by “Tuneable white LED” this allows the Kelvin colour of LED to switch through the spectrum from circa 5000K (blue/white light) to 2700k (yellow light) during different times of the day to optimize how a workforce feel thus improving output and fits in with the latest well building initiatives,” adds Clements.

Retrofitting old buildings

While most new buildings are adapting to LED, old buildings still pose a challenge. Retrofitting by definition involves adding new elements to something pre-existing with the aim to enhance its effectiveness. So when it comes to lighting, making sure specifications of both the new unit and the original fixture match is, of course, important to prevent any hazards. When retrofitting, contractors often have to comply with the latest building codes, so it is advisable to plan ahead for expenses if several original fixtures need repairs and replacing. This can also involve replacing damaged cables of a building. In the case of retrofitting, a key consideration is the stable power supply and ventilation to allow adequate heat dispersion for reliable, long-term performance.

“At Philips Lighting we abide by global best practice standards in health and safety and in the case of installations we ensure we work with health and safety certified officers on site. We also ensure that we only work with professional partners that adhere to the same health and safety policies we uphold at Philips Lighting globally and any that are implemented locally by governments. We provide close supervision for the installation process and ensure that we work towards a zero injury objective at the workplace,” says Scholte.

However, Clements points out that a major misconception that exists is that LED retrofit lamps are suited to old style louvered fixtures. “They are not. All luminance from a LED lamp that replaces a fluorescent is singularly downward directional. This causes problems with regard to glare. They cannot be used with a standard emergency kit and frankly are not suitable within office lighting,” he adds.

In addition to ensuring that all necessary health and safety measures are being taken, Philips has also developed a number of strategic programs to help their suppliers improve their sustainability performance, thus supporting their ambition to create a healthier, more sustainable world.

Keep this in mind while adopting led lights

• Glare can be an issue with small point sources, so diffusion is important.
• Lamp replacement can be an issue - in some cases, the whole light fitting may need replacing.
• Lamp technology is changing so quickly which is affecting the lifespan of some fittings, so one needs to get 5-year warranties in the specification.
• Do not buy cheap! Always use products from reputable organisations.