Senior living communities today are experiencing tremendous pressure to reduce operating costs and meet new lighting regulation without sacrificing the safety and comfort of their residents and patients. Thanks to advancements in LED lighting technology and lighting controls, developers and operational management can quickly and efficiently modernize their facilities. Additionally, it is now possible to improve the experience of residents and patients while significantly reducing energy and maintenance costs.

The increasing potential for LEDs to integrate into facility operations through networked controls makes it a promising lighting solution for modernization of senior living communities without adding a hefty price tag.

Resident health and facility management

LEDs offer many cost-saving attributes. The general cost savings provided by the reduced energy use are only the beginning of savings. Automation and controls options are available in varying levels of complexity, so the return-on-investment periods for LED lighting installations can be shortened to a few years, creating cost savings that then can be reinvested into improving resident experience and care.

The incorporation of LED lighting as a stand-alone option can boost energy savings and reduce lighting energy use up to 65%. Further, LEDs have a life span of up to 100,000 hours (> 10 years), affecting maintenance costs and the need for replacement..

Most importantly, LEDs support the well-being of senior residents. With higher possible color rendering index light output and controllable correlated color temperatures, LED lighting can improve the mood, health and visual capabilities of residents.

LEDs also do not contain mercury, disposal of which requires a specialized recycling process.

A better living environment through smart controls

Various studies have found a connection between the lighting people are subjected to in their everyday lives and their personal health. The human body needs a good amount of light at the right time of day to act as a “cue” for our internal clock. Lighting affects our ability to feel awake and alert during the day, and it initiates a response to feel sleepy when we should at night.

Research shows that senior residents do better with interior lighting as close as possible to natural light. Natural lighting helps to synchronize circadian rhythm, improve visibility, and create a comfortable and low-stress environment for seniors.

At the same time, however, the lighting in senior living and care communities must serve the needs of healthcare professionals. Visiting doctors, nurses and other caregivers need bright, high-quality light to perform examinations and provide proper care. Smart lighting controls can establish this balance.

Smart controls have tuning capabilities that can adjust LED light output. The brightness and color of the lighting can be adjusted, allowing communities to create an optimal balance between comfort for residents and usability by staff based on the needs of a room or area at any given time. For example, in resting areas during the evening hours, lighting may be warmer and dimmer to create a subconscious comfort as residents fall asleep.

On the other hand, living areas may use cooler lighting at full intensity throughout the day because it better supports visual acuity for older adults. These lighting controls are completely customizable to the facility based on current needs and the regulatory demands of the future.

Maximizing efficiency through networked smart controls

A valuable part of networked lighting controls is facility-wide connectivity. To more accurately manage lighting systems, networked lighting control systems create smart lighting solutions that maximize energy efficiency and provide a more transparent look into facility operations.

Networked lighting controls can maximize efficiency based on the needs of individual sections, rooms, areas and of the facility as a whole. These lighting controls can be used to monitor and manage operations of LED fixtures and adjust energy use based on factors such as occupancy, external light levels and time of day.

Networked controls also can add precision to facility maintenance by communicating information to control centers on energy usage, lighting and other maintenance issues, all in real time. With this information, maintenance teams can be as efficient as possible, quickly identifying any issues and addressing them in a timely fashion.

Remember, what may seem like a simple change in lighting can make a drastic difference in the lives of residents and their caregivers.

Schuyler Ostrander is director of engineering, and Jason Booher is a lighting design engineer at Value Lighting Inc., a division of the multi-family group at Revolution Lighting Technologies.