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Shining Through

ETAP Dubai CEO, Michael Nuyttens explains to Jose Franco why Dubai offers a huge market for the lighting retrofit.

| | Jul 30, 2010 | 2:22 pm
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ETAP Dubai CEO, Michael Nuyttens explains to Jose Franco of MEGAWHAT magazine why Dubai offers a huge market for the lighting retrofit

Perhaps one of those things that strike any first-time visitor to Dubai is that its offices and residential flats, especially the lobbies and hallways, are so well-lit. Never mind the major streets and thoroughfares, as floodlights are, indeed, important for everyone’s safety at night. Besides, streetlamps don’t burn 24 hours a day, as they have automatic switches. But how many motorists sometimes forget to switch on their headlights, owing to too much lighting on the streets?

Fact is majority of Dubai offices and buildings are burning so much energy for unnecessary lighting systems. The whole Bank Street in Bur Dubai, for instance, has offices with lighting of 40W per square metre, says Michael Nuyttens, CEO of ETAP Dubai. The ideal lighting for an office, he explains, is 8-12W per square metre of space for 500 lux (lx). An international system of unit, or SI, of luminous emittance, lux is used as a measure of the intensity of light as perceived by the human eye when it hits or passes through a surface.

While owners and contractors of new buildings and those in the design stage may be aware of the burden of excessive lighting, those of old facilities could save a lot of money by retrofitting their lighting systems. The initiative would not only increase the value of a building and prepare it for enthusiastic tenants for at least the next 10 years but would also rollback retrofit investments within two years, owing to a resulting drop in energy consumption. “The value of a building will go up,” says Nuyttens, “and the tenants will love its sophisticated atmosphere.”

A less but adequate consumption of power through a retrofitted lighting system will, likewise, result in less energy needed for the cooling system in the same building. If you want to do the maths, the basis point is that 1W per square metre of additional lighting will need a corresponding 1W per square metre more of cooling. The 1:1 ratio also applies if the situation is reversed. Imagine how much a commercial building along Bank Street would be able to save by retrofitting its lighting systems?

“There is no [lighting] retrofitting yet in Dubai, but it’s a huge market,” says Nuyttens. “I’m sure it’s the future.” He is quick to add, though, that owners, contractors and other individuals concerned must first be aware of the benefits of good lighting. “There must be a demand for us to capture the market for retrofit,” he remarks.

A provider of extensive services on best lighting systems based in Belgium, ETAP can help a building save 50-75% on energy-level use by incorporating in its design the essentials of good lighting, or redesigning existing systems. If lights consume 3,000W out of the total 10,000W of energy being used in a building, ETAP could further lower the level to 1,500W, Nuyttens says. The ideal lighting system, he stresses, is three per cent of the building’s cost.

Besides having an efficient system that consumes less energy, Nuyttens says the essentials of good light include the necessary diffusion of lights through energy-friendly luminaires, to cover more spaces at lower costs, and daylight harvesting. The latter needs an ELS, or ETAP Light Control System, to adjust the level of artificial light, in accordance with the daylight level. This makes one enjoy up to 45% savings in energy while still enjoying the same level of visual comfort. Good lighting may also include the use of IT solutions, such as ETAP’s Energy & Lighting Manager, which ensures the presence of the right quantity of light in the right place at the right time, such as in emergency situations.

While the ETAP lighting system has a lifespan of 20-30 years, Nuyttens says buildings may change theirs in 10-15 years due to advances in technology. He points out, for instance, that the world is now in a transitory phase with regard to using LED, or a light-emitting diode, as lighting sources. With lower energy consumption and longer lifetime, LEDs are usually used as indicator lamps in electronic devices but are still too expensive to replace the incandescent light sources. The advances in technology will hopefully address this issue.

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