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checkEnergy-Efficient Lighting

All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.


Installing new lighting or upgrading and/or retrofitting existing systems to energy-efficient lighting systems and fixtures can result in less expensive operations and maintenance costs and lower energy bills. Controls can reduce lighting energy use and affect the sizing of heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and electrical systems.

  • Project Talking Points

    • Energy usage represents one of the few cost centers that hospitals can have control over. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that nationally, healthcare facilities use twice as much energy as other commercial buildings and emit almost 40 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
    • Lighting demands of hospitals are complex due to their round-the-clock nature and the effects on patients and staff. 
    • Lighting affects other building systems through its electrical requirements and the waste heat it produces.
    • Assessing the intensity of lighting in different areas (for example, what levels of illumination are appropriate for a clinical area vs. a parking garage) may identify opportunities for modifications and greater efficiency.
    • Energy-efficient lighting measures will improve the financial bottom line and can also have a positive impact on indoor and outdoor environments and on patient, community, and environmental health by improving the visual experience.
  • Triple Bottom Line Benefits

    Cost savings – After installing energy-efficient lighting, hospitals save money on lighting products by having to purchase and replace fewer products less often. There are also huge savings to be found in energy costs. Study after study verifies that energy-efficient lighting significantly reduces energy bills.

    Environmental benefits – Lighting impacts the environment in several ways, including energy usage, materials used to produce lighting products, and light's impact on the nighttime sky. Energy-efficient lighting requires less electricity, which lowers emissions from polluting power plants. Energy-efficient lighting also reduces the number of toxic chemicals released into the waste stream and reduces light pollution.

    Health and safety benefits (satisfaction and quality) – Findings in medical science highlight the important role light plays in maintaining optimum regulation of biological rhythms and hormones on a daily basis, contributing to our overall health and well-being. Energy-efficient lighting delivers in this fundamental role while also reducing the number of toxins being released into the environment and saving energy. Also, LED lights are reported to provide better lighting for surgical teams, which helps to improve the outcomes of patients, while at the same time saving energy.


  • Purchasing Considerations

    • Partner with lighting vendors to conduct facility walkthrough’s assessing the opportunities to convert to more energy efficient lighting technologies. Vendors will also typically support the creation of an ROI analysis.
    • Ensure consideration is taken as to the appropriate ballast type – program start or instant start. Install instant-start electronic ballasts with a ballast factor > 0.85. Lamps turned on or off more than 5 times/day or controlled by occupancy sensors should have program/rapid start ballasts to extend lamp life.
    • New ballast must be rated to power a 28-watt T-8 or a 25-watt T-8 (new lamp and ballast must be electrically matched).
    • Specify bulbs with low mercury content. Note that low mercury bulbs may have an initial higher cost and may have a reduced operating life.
    • If specifying T-8 lamps, ensure (1) a color rendering index (CRI) of 85 or higher and (2) a 92% lumen maintenance efficiency over the rated lamp’s lifetime.
    • Consider end of life disposal requirements (i.e. recycling, hazardous waste) and how this will integrate with the hospitals overall waste management program. See Fluorescent Lighting Management and Recycling PIM for more information.
    • Check with your GPO on applicable contracts and resources.
  • How-To

    For organization-wide replacement/installment:

    • Research which commercially-available, cost-effective lighting technologies offer the best opportunity for your hospital/system to achieve high-energy savings and reduce hospital operations and maintenance costs. Identify companies to bid on the project; include input from county and city energy providers, Public Utility Districts, and vendors.
    • Ask the company(ies)/organization to conduct a thorough audit of current usage and costs, feasibility study, assessment of current lighting inventory, and a comprehensive review of how the building is used.
    • Based on the study, the company should identify a suitable replacement solution from a complete portfolio of lighting solutions, including lamps, luminaires, and controls, and devise an implementation program.

    Individual projects and “low-hanging fruit”:

    • Install light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in exit signs and elsewhere where cost-benefit analysis shows it makes sense for the longer life expectancy of an LED. Note that if you are making a large investment in LED, ensure the supplier is reputable and will replace at the LED failure rate since it is a newer and more costly technology. LED is not for every lighting need.
    • Eliminate incandescent lamps and replace with fluorescent lamps (other than in Exit signs).
    • Select products that qualify for the EPA Energy Star certification program, that reduce mercury toxicity, and provide optimal performance.
    • Replace older T12 or T8 technologies with Super T8 lamps and magnetic ballasts used in older fluorescent lighting high-efficiency electronic ballasts.
    • Both low-tech and high-tech solutions for controlling lighting can prove to be effective. High performance lighting systems significantly reduce energy usage by ensuring electric lighting is used only when necessary. Develop a lighting awareness campaign to train staff to turn off lights when rooms are not in use.

    The following options can save energy without affecting patient care or facility functionality:

    • Incorporate day lighting controls in patient rooms and public spaces with large windows.
    • Integrate controls that enable continuous dimming.
    • Install occupancy sensors in spaces frequently unoccupied, such as restrooms, stairwells, service areas and mechanical plants.
    • Use sensors that include dimming and stepping options for spaces that utilize day lighting.
    • Incorporate exterior motion sensors, which can save energy and can enhance security while maintaining adequate light for safety.
    • Consider photo-luminescent egress signage subject to local Fire Department and other regulatory criteria.
  • Tools

    If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Case Studies

    Energy Efficient Hospital Lighting Strategies Pay Off Quickly, U.S. DOE, St. Mary’s hospital in Maryland

    Energy Efficient Lighting Strategies Pay Off Quickly, U.S. DOE, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Building Technologies Program, July 2011

  • Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies

    As part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110-140 originally named the Clean Energy Act of 2007), incandescent bulbs were to be phased out and no longer manufactured in the United States starting January 1, 2012. However, a last-minute rider attached to the omnibus government spending bill impacted the 2007 energy standards and Congress basically rescinded the incandescent ban by eliminating the funds the Department of Energy would need to enforce it. Currently there is no federal law regarding energy-efficient lighting, but this topic continues to be debated on Capitol Hill.

    The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Deduction, which allows building owners to deduct the entire cost of a lighting or building upgrade in the year the equipment is placed in service, subject to a cap. This website, developed by the Lighting Systems Division of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in cooperation with the Commercial Building Tax Deduction Coalition, provides education about the lighting aspects of the Deduction and resources to help with its implementation. 

  • Cross References: LEED

    LEED 2009 for Healthcare: New Construction & Major Renovations:

    • Sustainable Sites, Credit 8, Light Pollution Reduction, 1 Point.
    • Indoor Environmental Quality, Credit 6.1, Controllability of Systems—Lighting, 1 Point.
    • Energy & Atmosphere, Credit 1, Optimize Energy Performance, 1-24 Points.

    LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance:

    • Sustainable Sites, Credit 8, Light Pollution Reduction, 1 Point.
    • Indoor Environmental Quality, Credit 2.2, Controllability of Systems—Lighting, 1 Point.
    • Energy & Atmosphere, Credit 1, Optimize Energy Efficiency Performance, 1-18 Points

    LEED for New Construction v2.2

    • Sustainable Sites, Credit 8, Light Pollution Reduction, 1 Point.
    • Indoor Environmental Quality, Credit 6.1, Controllability of Systems—Lighting, 1 Point.
    • Energy & Atmosphere, Credit 1, Optimize Energy Performance, 1-10 Points
  • Cross References: GGHC

    GGHC Operations v2.2 2008 Revision, Facilities Management, Credit 9, Light Pollution Reduction, 1 Point.

  • PIM Synergies

  • Education Resources

    If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • More Resources

    • An article from Health Leaders Media detailing some of the lighting savings the Cleveland Clinic found when switching to energy-efficient lighting.
    • Practice Greenhealth’s Best Practices in Energy Efficiency.
  • PIM Descriptors

    Energy, Supply Chain

    Level: Beginner

    Category List:

    • Lighting

    PIM Attributes:

    • Energy
    • Water

    Improvement Type:

    • Energy


    • Engineering/Facilities Management
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