Energy Savers - Allan Lam, Director, LAM Consulting Engineers

Released: 31 August, 2016

In the latest edition of our interview series, we speak with Allan, director of an engineering consultancy firm with national & international presence, about the changing delineation between electrical consulting & lighting design, what are the new LED luminaire performance metrics beyond efficacy and the challenges in meeting retrofit clients budget & quality parameters.

What is the difference between electrical engineers & lighting designers?

Lighting designers have been principally concerned with the “look and feel” of lighting a space, underpinned by meeting the relevant Australian Standards or Building Code compliance thresholds whilst electrical engineers works in reverse. It has to be a happy marriage in order for it to work! Here at LAM Consulting Engineers, we incorporate 3D lighting software design as part of our in-house graduate training program. Our engineers & designers then broaden their learning through project application, depending on their seniority and the nature of the job.

What sectors do you work in?

Our success both in Australia and Hong Kong is measured by fostering long term professional relationships with our clients. We have projects in the following sectors:

  • Commercial & Workplace
  • Residential
  • Retail/ Quick Service Restaurant
  • School / College
  • University
  • Hotel
  • Health & Aged Care

What proportion does LED lighting upgrades represent for your business?

Without putting a figure on it, I’d say that LED lighting upgrades are a large and growing proportion of our project work, as end users and clients grow in understanding around LED lighting performance and cost savings benefits. All of our new build work includes lighting design.

How do you approach the luminaire selection process?

I love to say ‘one fits all’, but there is no one supplier that can supply for all project applications so we keep up to date on new products by engaging with many lighting suppliers. We research luminaires by reviewing test reports & IES files.We view samples and attend lighting industry events such as IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) conferences, as well as visiting sites to see lights installed in actual projects.

For lighting retrofits we start with understanding the client’s brief. If there is a strong focus on value, the challenge we face is in explaining to the client the added features of higher performing luminaires that reduce ongoing maintenance or deliver a higher lighting uniformity over time.

What luminaire performance metrics do you look for & in what ranking?

LED lighting efficacy has really improved in recent years & high efficacy has become a standard. The differentiating performance factors are now more concerned with glare management and the ability to maintain lighting uniformity over time. This is a factor of the quality of the components- LED chips, drivers and the luminaire’s heat management system.

What trends are you seeing in client project drivers?

Clients are now more open minded re LED lighting projects. In the past LED would have been offered amongst a selection of lamps (metal halide, compact fluorescent etc) but now there are no parameters. Clients are open for us to advise them on the endless opportunities for LED lighting and for us to propose a luminaire matrix that offers a meaningful comparison between lighting products that fits the client brief.


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