Lighting consultants and samples are necessary in the wild west LED landscape

Mark Lee, Principal with Harriman, recently talked with Building Design + Construction about LED lighting.

To keep up with advancements and new offerings in the LED lighting space, AEC firms rely on trustworthy suppliers and, more selectively, lighting consultants. “We see three major lighting distributors in our offices at least once a week,” says Mark Lee, AIA, LEED AP, Associate Principal with Harriman, an Auburn, Maine-based AE and planning practice.

Like many firms, Harriman insists that suppliers provide samples so that it can conduct in-situ mockups to verify performance claims. Harriman is currently relamping a large banking center with LEDs, for which it created lighting models and then mounted and metered mockups in the building to test the lighting against the models.

Why LEDs Now?

Light-emitting diodes, which were first used commercially for signal lighting, have become the go-to light source for numerous applications, including nonresidential construction. There’s really no secret to their success: LEDs are energy efficient, durable, unfazed by cold weather, environmentally friendly (they don’t contain mercury or other hazardous substances), have the potential to last more than 50,000 hours, and are controllable, in that they can be dimmed and strobed.

What had been one of LEDs’ main disadvantages—cost—has largely been addressed. And its longevity compared to incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent lighting makes LEDs a good investment, especially for spaces like retail and hotels, where the lights are on all the time.

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Image caption: Harriman provided the electrical engineering design for the LED lighting upgrade at Bates Mill in Lewiston, Maine. LED direct and indirect fixtures were selected to improve occupant comfort through better lighting distribution and controls in what is a challenging open office environment.