How to integrate lighting systems in health care facilities

Meeting lighting system requirements in a health care facility is a challenge because of the myriad codes and standards required to ensure safety.
By Timothy Larson, RTM Engineering Consultants June 25, 2018

Because health care facilities must meet a strict set of requirements and codes, they are among the most complex structures to build and maintain. As engineering consultants, we need to keep up with technologies that are being introduced and industry changes that are happening to be able to deliver the best solutions to our clients.

One trend that has grown consistently within the health care industry is a focus on energy efficiency in lighting and lighting control systems. Advances in LED lighting have had positive outcomes for patient satisfaction, energy efficiency, and operational efficiency. In the Consulting-Specifying Engineer 2017 Lighting and Lighting Controls Study, LEDs were named the top lighting product, and 80% of respondents said recent changes to LEDs and energy-efficient designs have affected their work in the past 12 to 18 months.   

As part of this emphasis on saving energy, we have seen the industry developing strategies to integrate lighting systems into other facility systems. One effective way to do this is by linking corridor lighting controls with the building automation system; setting the lights to dim automatically during evening or low-occupancy hours. Another strategy that has been adopted is connecting the HVAC system to occupancy sensors that control lighting within a space. Where allowed by code, the use of the HVAC system can be scaled back at times when spaces are unoccupied by patients and staff.

The biggest challenge in incorporating these systems into health care facilities is ensuring compliance with all health and safety codes.

For instance, in a hospital, it is critical to protect the well-being of patients, staff, and visitors. Certain rooms—such as infectious disease isolation rooms, operating rooms, or emergency department waiting rooms—are designed with either negative or positive pressure, requiring a specific number of airflow changes per hour. Engineers need to work closely with our clients and partners to implement innovations such as the syncing of lighting sensors with HVAC systems to ensure that they meet industry compliance requirements.


Timothy Larson, PE, is a principal at RTM Engineering Consultants. This article originally appeared on RTM’s blog. RTM Engineering Consultants is a CFE Media content partner.