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Industry Spotlight: Lighting Solutions for Healthcare Facilities

By applying energy efficiency upgrades throughout their facilities, business and organizations can slash their top operational costs. These upgrades can vary from LED lighting and lighting controls to water heating equipment and refrigeration motors and HVAC equipment. Certain organizations, such as healthcare facilities, can uniquely benefit from energy-efficiency upgrades, not only from a profits perspective, but also from a patient and visitor comfort perspective, and being recognized as eco-friendly.

Healthcare buildings rely on high-performance lighting and other equipment to operate resulting massive energy consumption. Based on data from the Department of Energy (DOE), on average, hospitals use 2.5x the amount of energy as other commercial buildings—lighting consuming nearly 40 percent of annual energy usage. Because these facilities operate 24/7, their energy bill reflects their excessive energy consumption. Healthcare organizations spend over $6.5 billion on energy every year, and that amount only continues to grow with an increasing demand to meet patients’ needs.

Money lost as a result of large utility costs is often made up from budget cuts to other areas, which could mean cuts to quality of life, cuts to safety, or even cuts to staffing. Organizations can avoid such cuts through the implementation of energy efficient upgrades. In addition to dollar savings, energy efficiency improves the appearance of the space, occupant safety, patient comfort, and is good for the environment.

Some of energy efficiency’s biggest benefits to healthcare facilities:

Cost Savings and Increased Profitability

Improvements to energy efficiency can reduce the cost of energy by as much as 75%. Although the initial investment is larger, LEDs can also reduce maintenance costs, as bulbs can last up to 25 years (a lifespan twice that of CFLs). Fusing the cost savings of lower energy bills and reduced maintenance, coupled with improved patient satisfaction and improved sales, simple efficiency improvements like upgrading to LEDs have the potential to dramatically magnify a facility’s bottom line.

The potential for savings can vary, but most facilities can see significant gains through energy efficiency with minimal investment. Some examples include:

Geiseinger Health System

Based in Danville, PA, retrofitted 24,000 light fixtures and installed occupancy sensors across their facilities—accounting for 50% in energy savings. The company also received $156,000 in incentives from a local utility. The project yielded energy savings of $460,000 annually, paying for itself in less than four years. Read more.

Gundersen Health Systems

Based out of La Crosse, Wisconsin hired Energy Performance Lighting to replace their outdated lighting. Regarding the interior, we installed LED tubes and lamps, and replaced high-pressure sodium (HPS) exterior pole fixtures with new LED fixtures. The project yielded energy savings of $105,185 annually and reduced greenhouse gas emissions over 2 million lbs. per year. Read more.

Creates a Welcoming Environment

Waiting rooms outfitted with old, gloomy light fixtures feel uninviting and grim to potential patients. LEDs can enhance and brighten the space, making it feel more welcoming, and relieve feelings of anxiousness for patients and visitors. With the ability to customize their correlated color temperature (CCT) and brightness, LED lights provide healthcare organizations with the ability to control illumination, not only in the waiting room, or a patient’s room, but throughout the entire building, delivering the desired appearance without sacrificing the quality of care.

Gratifying Patient Experiences

Combining LED fixtures with an intelligent building system—such as an IoT-enabled infrastructure—can further improve energy-related savings through integrated recognition and operation of all building systems. Moreover, the “smart” building systems allow for customized patient preferences for room lighting and temperature, hallway noise management, and indoor navigation for visitors. In patients experiencing a loss of control as a result of a debilitating disease or illness, these technologic amenities can return feelings of composure.

Enhanced Comfort

As lighting technologies evolve, so does our understanding of how light affects us. Research shows lighting has a significant impact on the well-being of staff, patients, and even visitors. Bright light is shown to reduce drowsiness, cause us to feel energetic and lively, and promote feelings of happiness. Insufficient or dull lighting is associated with eyestrain—which can cause headaches and lead to accidents—is associated with higher levels of stress and fatigue, can trigger seizures, and even lead to a mild form of depression, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD). Through the application of optimal lighting, healthcare facilities can alleviate these ailments, which will improve the well-being of patients, staff, and visitors.

Improved Operational Processes

Circling back to IoT, hospitals can improve operational productivity through the implementation of intelligent building technologies. Healthcare organizations can employ real time location systems (RTLS) to monitor the location of care-related equipment to prevent essential equipment from stockpiling, and reduce the amount of time needed to locate necessary hardware during immediate care situations. Even hospital staff, from doctors, to nurses, to patients and security can be tracked to quicken response times.

Radiant Exteriors

By upgrading exterior lights to LEDs, hospitals and healthcare facilities can shine as brightly on the outside as on the inside. In an industry where time is of the essence, proper exterior illumination can help guide emergency vehicles and patients to the proper entrance. Replacing inadequate parking lot and parking structure lighting with LEDs can make parking areas brighter and safer for facility staff, patients, and visitors alike.

In Conclusion

There are many more ways in which energy-efficient and smart building technologies can help healthcare facilities achieve their overall goals of patient care, cost reduction, and more sustainable operation. Using these technologies, the general standard of care can be improved and a health facility transformed from a cost center into a self-catering instrument.

The first step in implementing energy efficient upgrades in your facility is to complete an assessment. Energy Performance Lighting performs investment-grade lighting evaluations for hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living and other health care facilities. To see how your lighting compares, give our certified lighting efficiency professionals a call at (608) 661-5555 or schedule an assessment online and a representative will reach out within one business day to learn more about your facility needs and discuss potenital options.

Bacteria-Killing Light

Bacteria have evolved. Some are even immune to the chemicals that are commonly used for cleaning and disinfecting. They are evolving, spreading, and becoming stronger and more dangerous – but what if there was a way to clean and disinfect without the harmful chemicals? There is – and we have been using it for millions of years – light.

How It Works

A study conducted by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland has shown a narrow spectrum of visible, indigo-colored light killed MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), C. difficile and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus), which are some of the most common harmful bacteria linked to hospital acquired infections (HAIs). Molecules within the bacteria absorb the High-Intensity Narrow Spectrum light which produces a chemical reaction killing the bacteria from the inside-out, and because it is visible light, it is safe for use in the presence of patients and staff, but lethal to pathogens.

Lowering Infections and Saving Money

Using light as a disinfectant tool can assist in reducing the number of HAIs. In the United States, it is estimated that HAIs contribute to at least 1.7 million illnesses, 99,000 deaths in acute care hospitals, and add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of treating a single patient, resulting in $35-45 billion in excess healthcare costs each year.

While the current disinfecting methods in a healthcare environment are effective, they are also sporadic, causing results to be short-lived, as the bacteria re-populate the space rapidly. The ability to continuously treat hard and soft surfaces, as well as the air, will provide a substantial boost to disinfecting efforts.

At Energy Performance Lighting, we’re excited to see how LED lighting and controls can give healthcare providers an effective tool to ensure the safest and best environments for their patients.

 


 
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The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things, is it the next revolution of the century? From the amount of people already connected and using it, without knowing it, the IoT is a major industry just waiting to explode. The Internet of Things is a simple concept; any object where an interface and processor can be installed and connected to the internet can be classified as part of the Internet of Things network. One possible feature for car keys with the IoT is if you’ve set your keys in an odd spot, the keys could notify you where they are. No more searching for an hour to find them because you didn’t leave them on the key ring or the cat knocked them off the counter. The keys could tell you exactly where they are.

Lighting is affected by the IoT in a variety of ways. In businesses lighting could be adjusted by the time of day, occupancy, flow of traffic, task performed or even to kill bacteria.  Other duties light could do is make facilities managers jobs easier this could be done with sensors and connecting lights to the internet to see how many hours of life remain on a light bulb before it needs to be replaced or what is causing a light to not dim. Lights connected to the IoT could also be a great tool for safety, guiding people to the nearest exits during fires or being connected to a security system where the lights start flickering on and off when an intruder breaks in. The IoT has endless opportunities for new products and uses.

The IoT currently is at the center of innovation, technology and ideas being implemented in Smart Cities. Through the IoT, cities are already tracking pedestrian traffic, real time energy usage, water usage and solid waste collection. From the data collected at the tips of consumers’ and businesses’ fingers, processes can be streamlined and more control can be implemented to improve services. Technology is rapidly evolving too, as Wi-Fi and Li-Fi are being implemented in different ways to connect cities. This is being done through installing routers on busses, old payphones, and lights. 

Beyond the scope of just cities, so many other industries could be affected. Manufacturing, Transport, Supply Chain, Healthcare, Insurance, Logistics, Government, Energy and Automotive industries could connect products and gather data from a distance. In the case for Healthcare, what if there was a plaster cast that could give you diagnostics on a broken bone and pictures without having to get an x-ray? This would cut down the amount of times patients would have to come in to the doctor’s office and doctors could evaluate the injury in real time on the computer, catching problems earlier.

Companies already have started implementing the IoT in their businesses and have had energy savings that are beyond the 50% energy savings you get from installing just LEDs. With more data you can propel past others learning patterns and using the knowledge to saving money and allow employees to perform in a quality environment. 

At EPL, we are lighting experts because lighting is all we do. We can upgrade your lighting systems to the 21st century and connect you to the world. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of health, safety, and energy efficiency, and always deliver on time and on budget. No change orders, ever.

Upgrading the Lighting in Nursing Homes

With the advancements in modern technology, and increasing efficiencies in healthcare practice, more people are living longer than ever before. With a swelling senior population, there’s also urgency for access to nursing homes and assisted living facilities as aging adults slowly lose the ability to effectively care for themselves. As a result, the expenses pertaining to senior living also continue to climb—not only for patients but also for care facilities—with increasing needs to acquire modern equipment and expand the amount of staff needed to provide adequate care.

According to the most-recent quarterly report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in Wisconsin, 19.6% of nursing home residents fell, 7.2% of those falls resulted in injury. Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services tallied up 2,664 falls—most of them with injuries—among assisted living facilities in Wisconsin in 2017 (an 11 percent increase over the previous year). The state DHS also reported that nearly 4,000 deadly falls had occurred between 2015 and 2017 among those aged 65 or older living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Obstructions to funding on necessary equipment and employing sufficient staff could be disastrous, so it is critical to explore facility design elements that can improve resident care and your organization’s value proposition. One advantageous way to slash operational costs, while at the same time improving value to potential residents, is by retrofitting or upgrading facility lighting design.

Advancements in Lighting Technology

Lighting-technology advancements are among the latest and most-promising innovations to ensure a better quality of life, not only for seniors in nursing and assisted living facilities, but also for the masses. Using light emitting diode (LED) lighting, with circadian-calibrating lighting design (lighting designed to emulate natural light as closely as possible), can complement resident experiences in assisted living in significant ways, such as:

  • Increased safety with better light quality and color-rendering
  • Increasing comfort and satisfaction with tunable lighting and lighting controls
  • Saving money for facility management through reductions related to energy and maintenance costs

Lighting for Senior Living Facilities

Safety

It’s the most important consideration for any facility improvement: safety. Nursing and assisted living facilities are often in-operation 24/7 throughout the year, and require proper lighting at all times throughout the day to support the needs of residents. For example, dark corridors filled with shadows can be unsafe, but they can also trigger fear in people, especially among seniors suffering from dementia.

Another example is when a resident has to get out of bed to use the bathroom at night; they require light levels that exceed a typical nightlight, but not so much as to provide the full brightness of room lighting. LED lighting is tunable and controllable in a variety of ways, unlike other lighting technologies, which can provide residents with a sense of safety and security in their spaces.

Visual Capabilities

Another fundamental element is lighting that adapts to the changing vision capabilities of the elderly. As the eyes age and deteriorate, they become less efficient, causing glare to become very distracting and irritating. Impaired vision raises considerable concerns regarding the safety of the elderly. Insufficient lighting is a safety risk, because it has an impact on depth perception and other visual abilities, making seniors especially susceptible to accidents—particularly fall injuries. It takes longer for the mature eye to adapt to significant changes in light levels, so light levels from space-to-space should be kept high, uniform, and consistent to prevent injuries.

Resident Satisfaction

An additional opportunity to improve the lifestyle and convenience of those in assisted living is to provide residents with the ability to control parts of their environment. Assisted living communities have already begun focusing on creating welcoming environments which feel like home and allow residents to control amenities, like temperature, television, and lighting.

Advances in LEDs allow the ability to directly control and adjust lighting for different environments, like common areas and resident rooms, or to a resident’s particular preference. Some LED products offer features like “adjustable correlated color temperature” and wireless lighting controls, which give assisted living providers greater control over individual spaces within their facility.

Reduced Energy Consumption

LED lighting is a golden opportunity to improve resident experience while effectively lowering facility energy consumption and maintenance costs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration claims cooling, lighting, and ventilation account for over 70% of a healthcare facility’s electricity usage; lighting-alone consuming more than 40 percent! Applying LED lamps or fixtures across common areas, hallways, staff offices, and resident rooms, offers high-quality, efficient, and near-maintenance-free illumination—and paired with lighting controls, can reduce energy consumption as much as 70 percent over fluorescent lighting—offering obtainable payback periods and providing long-term budget savings.

Improved Resident Well-Being

Take our case study of Gundersen Tweeten Care Center, in Spring Grove, Minnesota, for example. When they changed from fluorescent lamps to circadian-balancing lighting installed by Energy Performance Lighting, they experienced a 63% reduction in energy costs and had these side benefits:

  • Lowered the number of resident falls over 30 percent
  • Decreased the use of anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic meds
  • Reduced instances of resident sundowners occurrences nearly 40 percent

For Medicare, one fall can be hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars if there’s an injury involved. In the case of Tweeten Care Center, the number of falls they cut down on saved them enough money to pay back for the lighting system sooner.

To Wrap Up

Energy Performance Lighting has proudly worked with nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare organizations across Wisconsin and the Midwest to demonstrate the effects and potential benefits lighting has on human health. By utilizing information we’ve gathered from partaking in the world’s largest research study on light and human health, stay up-to-date on and using cutting-edge technology, and with our experienced team of Certified Lighting Experts, we are able to provide some peace-of-mind about facility safety and occupant well-being, and a side benefit: you get to save 70 percent on your electric bill!

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