The objective of this study is to demonstrate that lighting retrofits, which include personal controls and dimming capability, can generate significant energy savings and improve occupant experience/satisfaction, ultimately leading to better worker performance. The University of Washington (UW) has retrofitted and replaced existing lighting fixtures in university buildings with more energy-efficient fixtures as part of the campus-wide energy conservation effort. Although a reduction in electric power is a measured performance metric, the associated occupant experience is not currently evaluated. For example, replacing an incandescent lamp with a florescent light can reduce the total electricity consumption, but the associated light quality and impact on occupant performance are not assessed. However, there is emerging evidence that workspace strategies (e.g., lighting quality) impact productivity, absenteeism, employee turnover, and even innovations in organizations. And because organizations are ultimately dependent on their human capital, finding empirical data to demonstrate that high-performing interior space (e.g., with individualized controls) affects employees in a positive way is crucial.
The study will address the following research questions: (1) How much electricity savings can a lighting control strategy add to the existing lighting system without any control strategies? (2) What are the values added in terms of economics, but more importantly, what are the values added to the occupants? (3) Does a recent lighting retrofit project on campus perform according to established lighting audit protocols by such agencies as the Illuminating Engineering Society; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE); and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)? (4) If not, what deficiencies exist, and how can they be resolved? (5) How can the university monitor the lighting performance of all buildings on campus in the future to provide a superior occupant experience in buildings?
Specifically, the study proposes to measure the existing lighting quality both objectively by deploying sensors and subjectively by surveying occupants of the UW Tower before and after the retrofit. The current conditions include recently upgraded florescent light fixtures but do not include any personal controls or dimming capabilities. The research team have received support and permission from Facilities Manager Troy Swanson, Director of Operations Steve Kennard, and Associate Vice President of Office of Planning and Management Gary Quarfoth, to deploy sensors and surveys to the occupants on the 12th floor and to install the lighting control system on the 12th floor. The outcome of this study will generate a process for evaluating the success of a lighting retrofit in terms of both energy savings and the lighting quality in a building space.