Fit your health care facility for the future with LEDs

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Installing energy-efficiency lighting, for example, provides a unique opportunity to cut costs, while impacting patient satisfaction and staff performance.

Reid Beauchamp
Market outreach specialist, Xcel Energy, Denver

Hospitals and health care facilities have the enormous responsibility of providing continuous, high-quality care while managing their costs. Energy costs, in particular, can become a substantial burden for this sector in order to meet the long operating hours and specialized needs. Fortunately, however, there are easy methods for increasing your facility’s energy efficiency. Investing in energy efficiency can help to free up funds to implement other innovative solutions to meet the changing demands in health care.

Installing energy-efficiency lighting, for example, provides a unique opportunity to cut costs, while impacting patient satisfaction and staff performance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting accounts for as much as 42 percent of the electricity used in health care facilities. Due to recent developments in light-emitting diode technology, facilities can achieve long-lasting energy reductions and superior light quality with rapid paybacks. For example, electric customers of ours can see as much as 75 percent of the total project cost through 2017 covered through rebates for certain LED solutions.

The characteristics of LED lighting offer a wide array of benefits, starting with their unprecedented lifespan. With the expected useful life of 30,000 to 50,000 hours or even longer, facilities can expect to significantly reduce their maintenance and replacement costs. Additionally, LEDs are less prone to breakage, provide instant-on performance and are controllable in nature. These benefits allow lighting manufacturers to manipulate the light to provide the optimal illumination across environments. Here are a few key areas that can benefit from LED technology:

• Waiting rooms and lobbies. First impressions are important. Lobbies and waiting areas with the right light can give patients and visitors the warm welcome they need. This subtle but noticeable difference can be the differentiator that impacts patient retention.

• Stairwells. Modern LED lighting works to distribute light widely and with greater vibrancy than fluorescents. A well-lit stairwell ensures proper light levels when occupied and helps to reduce avoidable accidents. Additionally, the controllable nature of LEDs allows for dimming features to drastically reduce energy consumption while unoccupied.

• Operating rooms. High-quality lighting is a necessity in operating rooms. The superior performance of LEDs can provide crisp illumination exactly where it’s needed, while improving color rendition and reducing waste heat.

• Nursing stations. These key areas require proper lighting for administrative work, the exchange of information and visitor assistance. Research has indicated that 57 percent of nurses report shadows as impacting their visual performance. LED lighting can provide a balance in the quality and quantity of light – improving workplace satisfaction and patient care.

• Patient rooms. Lighting is a crucial component of a healing environment, and we have strong emotional and biological responses to it. Studies have shown that natural lighting has a significant influence on our biological clocks. Without an abundance of natural light in many hospitals, modern LED lighting can help to replicate the feel of sunlight. These LED fixtures bring the reality of full color control, helping to match earth’s natural light patterns and qualities throughout each day – recalibrating patient’s biological clocks and improving their sleep when compared to florescent light.

• Parking and outdoor areas. Bright, reliable outdoor lighting enhances safety for visitors, patients and staff, and is especially important for hospitals, which operate around the clock. Modern LED area lighting creates a vibrant, uniform and safe lighting solution for parking lots and outdoor areas.

Upgrading health care facilities with energy-efficient LED lighting has multifaceted benefits for employees and patients alike. When coupled with cutting-edge sensors and control technology, LEDs allow for even deeper energy savings and benefits, like occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting and load shedding. This level of control and customization empowers facilities to create the right healing environment for them – increasing patient experience, retention and satisfaction across the board. Fewer accidents and errors, reduced energy waste and a decreased maintenance burden are additional advantages. While the upfront costs of upgrading to more efficient lighting can look intimidating on paper, current rebate offerings make updating a wise investment that will pay off in the long run.

Xcel Energy is offering through yearend free services to qualifying health care facilities, including a lighting assessment, a recommendation report and project support, along with 30 percent bonus rebates on the latest high-efficiency lighting solutions. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com/ lightingefficiency.

Featured in the July issue of Health Care Properties Quarterly

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