Updated: Oct 26, 2020
One of the best parts of my transition from doing lighting retrofits to building the best software on the planet for folks doing lighting retrofits has been learning tricks and tips from our customers. We have customers that have worked in almost every type of building with almost every type of customer and definitely under the widest range of site conditions imaginable and we’d like to share best audit practices with our community. Since I love top 10 lists (Thanks Dave Letterman!) I’d like to share the Top 10 Lighting Audit Tips:
Top 10 Lighting Audit Tips
1. Prepare for the onsite audit: The more you can do pre-audit the better you’re onsite audit will be. Need to know your site contact, access issues, protective gear requirements, hours you can walk the site, collect floor plans or other site information, what building type, etc.
2. Determine what information you need to collect: The type of information you need to collect should be standardized across your organization and right sized for the building type, solution strategy, and customer goals.
3. Create your audit strategy: Every building is different and your audit strategy should align with local conditions, auditor experience, and expected project outcome. For example, you might have strategy focused on speed when doing an office building for a budget conscious customer that you know will want a tube replacement and a strategy focused on extensive data collection for a retail building with a growth focused customer that will want a full redesign with photometrics.
4. Set up your audit data structure: We highly recommend having a standard audit data structure no matter what type of audit strategy you have. For areas, we recommend the following structure: Campus, Building, Floor, Room, Sub-Room. And for existing products, we recommend creating a product schedule to build your room by room inventory from.
5. Standardize data collection: It is imperative that each auditor and preferably each company standardizes their data collection method. We’ve identified two general data collection methods that are appropriate for two general building types but can be adapted for any building type. The first is linear, which means you go room by room and collect everything in each room before moving to the next. The second is parallel, which means you create rooms and inventory as you find them, but not necessarily in order. Linear data collection works great for offices, schools, and other repetitive layout buildings. Parallel data collection works great in warehouses and manufacturing facilities with large, wide open spaces, cut up buildings, or facilities with a chaperone.
6. Take pictures: They say a picture is worth a thousand words and we couldn’t agree more. Take tons of pictures with special attention to the following: a) a picture of each fixture, ballast, and lamp in your product schedule, b) at least one picture of each room taken from doorway, pictures of special mounting and/or wiring conditions, d) a picture of the room name/number for large projects, and e) a picture of the front of the building for your proposal. Make sure you ask permission before taking pictures of sensitive spaces.
7. Capture the commonly missed data: The following are the most commonly missed data: a) emergency lighting (battery or generator), b) dual switching, c) master/slave ballasts, d) lamp base type, e) wiring issues, f) voltage (check for different in parking lot!).
8. Interview the site contact: the local facility director, property manager, local electrician, or building owner is a wealth of knowledge that you either can’t find by yourself or would be incredibly hard to collect. Having a standard questionnaire will help ensure you don’t forget to ask those important questions.
9. Review audit onsite: Before leaving the location, it’s important to review the audit data collected to ensure you didn’t miss any required information. In particular, you need to ensure you a) captured all the areas, b) identified operating schedules for each area, c) have your completed inventory with your standardized inventory attributes, and d) have asked the local contact or verified the most commonly missed data.
10. Final audit review: We recommend having someone other than the auditor review the audit for consistency, completeness, and the sniff test that everything makes sense. Sometimes this is the solution designer for teams that have separate auditors and designers and sometimes it’s a separate person. If the auditor also does the design, we highly recommend they take time to do a full review before starting design.
We’re planning on doing a deeper dive on each of the tips above and would love your feedback and unique stories from the field in the comments! We’ll give you credit if we include your advice so you can be Retro-Famous!
Leif Elgethun, PE, LEED AP
Note: We always always always protect our customer’s sensitive information, trade secrets, intellectual property, and will only share information with your permission.