Knowledge and Expertise
The cost and payback of professional services
Architectural lighting design is succeeding as a profession because of the many solid answers to this question: Why should an architect or owner pay for lighting design services when it can be done in-house or by a salesperson at no additional "cost"? The fee that a lighting designer charges is hard to sell only when the extent and value of the services are not recognized. But those owners and architects who have benefited from independent, skilful lighting design realize that there are both short- and long-term paybacks that far surpass a fee. A skilled lighting designer is a unique, value-added resource. In many instances, a lighting designer will decrease the project construction and/or operations costs.
Lighting designers can provide a design to meet an established budget, but are most helpful establishing the budget. They will select equipment from numerous manufacturers to help keep bids competitive and recommend lighting equipment or techniques to reduce installation costs. Their involvement encourages competition. However, some light fixtures are "one of a kind," in which case a price may be obtained from the manufacturer early on. Unit pricing gathered during design development can be compared to unit pricing from the bidding contractors in order to spot gross anomalies. The designer may recommend distributors in order to procure additional competitive bids. Finally, the designer will work with the owner's rep and contractors to achieve budget objectives without sacrificing design intent.
Operations Cost Control
Reducing the owner's operations costs may be a crucial part of the design decisions, and these measures often benefit the project aesthetically and functionally. Lifecycle cost analysis compares the return on initial investment of different techniques or technologies. Often, costs can be reduced only by not over-lighting a space. All too often the specifier relies on suggestions from lighting sales persons. There are many ways a lighting designer can reduce costs and enhance the project. Improving the reflectance of surfaces (e.g., choosing lighter colors for walls and carpets or changing deteriorated ceiling tiles) can help reduce lighting equipment and operations costs. Selective spotlighting is often essential to retail sales. Integrating daylight plays a significant role.
The quality of light affects people on various levels. New scientific studies show how lighting affects retail sales, the productivity of office workers, wayfinding and security. Lighting designers are very aware of these matters and the techniques demanded to achieve results at the best possible price.
How to qualify a 'Lighting Designer'
Anyone can call himself a lighting designer. Electrical systems designers, electrical contractors, distributors, sales reps and lighting retailers all use the title but often lack the required skills and experience.
Technical skills can be learned, but talent cannot. Architects know that the value-adder for excellent and creative design is hard to assess and depends on the appreciation of decision-makers.
However, the difference between a sufficient lighting design and one that brings architecture to its fullest potential is more often felt than intellectually apparent. When these cost factors are put into play, there are verifiable and recognizable benefits from professional lighting design. So, will you involve a professional lighting designer for your next project?