The Hospital Environment
Although healthcare facilities account for <1% of all commercial buildings in the US, they consume 4.3% of the total delivered energy consumed by the commercial sector. The predominant light source in today’s hospitals is fluorescent tubes. These tubes produce UV light, which is partially, but not completely converted to visible light. Unseen UV radiation is emitted from the bulb and penetrates our skin and eyes. UV radiation has more energy than visible light and degrades many materials, causing damage to skin tissues, eye lenses and retinas.
The Impact of Fluorescent Lighting on Patients
In addition to invisible UV light, the visible light emitted by fluorescent sources consists of three inconsistent color spikes (magenta, yellow-green, and orange), with additional colors negligibly contributing to the output. The human visual system transmits those light signals to the brain, which must “fill in the gaps” to process the picture. Patients being treated in poor-spectrum fluorescent lighting environments often do not have the ideal conditions for proper emotional and psychological healing due to the constant flash of color spikes. In the case of patients with extremely sensitive vision, particularly in the scotopic (low-lit) range, low-spectrum lighting can trigger similar visual responses. Patients can be subjected to dizziness, headaches and nausea caused by the spikes and gaps in fluorescent output. Patients with special needs are particularly sensitive to visual fluctuations. As light flickers out of the fixture, the bright spikes and missing gaps appear as strobe light to them, which can range from distracting to painful.
Cost Savings and Earth-Friendly Behavior
Hospitals in the US spend on average $1.67 per square foot for electricity. Lighting alone accounts for 15% of a hospital’s electricity consumption. For an average sized hospital (75,000 square feet) that’s $18,000.00 for lighting. At a large hospital (650,000 square feet) it costs $160,000.00 to keeps the lights on.
LEDs require about 60% less energy and produce better quality light. Moreover, LED retrofits will last on average 20 years. Not only do LEDs significantly reduce electricity, maintenance and replacement costs, their superior light output reflects a healthier environment.
Benefits of LED Lighting for Patients
The even distribution of colors provided by LED result in more saturated, vivid, discriminable color rendering and effortless visual acuity. Fully directional down-lighting provides more illumination on work surfaces than the omni-directional diffused glow produced by gas-filled fluorescent tubes.
Not only does LED lighting directly impact the patient’s emotional well-being, it has been shown to improve cognitive utility, enhancing surgical, procedural and diagnostic spaces.
LED lighting is the best choice for healthcare facilities that want to foster safe, healthy, comfortable environments for patients and staff. The benefits range from cost savings, to improved health, and ocular safety. LEDs eliminate lighting-related competing elements in hospitals that physically affect the vision while psychologically affecting our ability to give and receive care. Contact The John Riley Group today to initiate a facility lighting assessment.