Several years ago, the International Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO) conducted a study that found facility managers could save as much as 10 percent on their lighting costs just by cleaning light fixtures. While it is an older study, much of their findings are as relevant today as they were when it was conducted.

Led by Luminaire Dirt Depreciation, an organization that works with lightbulb manufactures, designers, architects, as well as Facility Managers (FMs), the study found that facilities could reduce their lightening needs and still keep building users happen just by cleaning soiled lightbulbs and fixtures.  Additionally, this can help lightbulbs last longer, both of which can produce cost savings for FMs.

According to both organizations, the loss of light due to accumulated dust has become even more of a problem today than it was years ago.  This is because so many facilities now use LED technology.  Whereas traditional light bulbs or fluorescent bulbs could last several months to two or three years, LED lights last between five to ten years.  This means they are attended to less often, resulting in a much greater potential for more dust to accumulate over time. This reduces brightness levels, and it is so gradual, FMs typically do not notice it until building users complain about the loss of adequate light.

Another factor that has resulted in today’s light fixtures getting dustier and faster is the fact that facilities are typically enclosed. Whereas older buildings had windows that opened and depended less on air-conditioning, most of today’s facilities do not have windows that open and are entirely dependent on HVAC systems year round.  Even if the filters in these systems are changed regularly, they still can generate dust that tends to collect on light bulbs and fixtures.

New or old, “all lighting systems lose light as they operate; fixtures get dirty,” says Robert Levin, a corporate scientist with Osram Sylvania.  “So initially you provide for more light, which means more expensive installation [and] more energy consumed, which also means higher operating costs.”

Some contract cleaning companies will clean building light fixtures either as an add-on service or it may be included in their agreements with their customers.  Because Medallion is so sustainability-focused, we encourage our clients to have their fixtures cleaned at least once per year; more often in busy locations used by many people. The results are more illumination, less energy consumption, and happier tenants.

Ron Segura has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.

1. “Cleaning Fixtures Improves Illumination,” USA TODAY, June 1999