Feature Article - March 2009
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Save Some Green

Smart Cost-Cutting Strategies

By Dawn Klingensmith

Group Re-Lamping: A Bright Idea

How many maintenance workers does it take to change a light bulb?

That's a good question—if you're setting up a joke.

But with regard to responsible building management, a better question to ask is, "How many light bulbs can be changed at one time?"

Rather than changing light bulbs one at a time as they burn out, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that building managers implement a planned program of "group re-lamping," whereby all lamps are replaced in the same operation. This usually is the more cost-efficient approach because, on a per-lamp basis, group re-lamping requires much less labor, as the maintenance workers have all the materials they need on hand and can move systematically from one fixture to the next. Group re-lamping also provides for brighter and more uniform lighting because it replaces lamps before their lumen output starts to dwindle, causing the light to gradually grow dimmer. It also makes it less likely that a worker will mix and match incompatible lamps — for example, by installing a "warm" lamp with a yellowish glow alongside "cool" lamps with a bluish glow.

Group re-lamping can be outsourced to contractors who not only have all the right equipment but can also complete the work outside normal operating hours so as not to disrupt a facility's normal day-to-day activities.