In many cases, owners of newly constructed commercial and residential R1 buildings own buildings that feature green exit signs by virtue of having IBC compliant exit signs. However, owners of existing and commercial and residential R1 buildings in states that haven’t adopted a version of the IFC typically do not have green exit signs, which results in the absence of two advantages that the signs bring: annual utility cost reduction and the reduction of a building’s carbon footprint. Although electrical exit signs—particularly compact fluorescent and LED—are often discussed as for their energy efficiency, an exit sign that’s truly green uses no electricity at all, which narrows the field to Tritium signs and photoluminescent signs.
Unlike electrical signs, Tritium and photoluminescent signs use no electricity and require no maintenance. But this is where their similarities end. Whereas photoluminescent signs are powered by photoluminescence, which occurs when an object absorbs ambient light from its surroundings and then re-emits it in the form of a bright glow, Tritium signs receive their illumination from radioactive capsules. Although housed in a shockproof casing, the capsules still require a $75 disposal fee due to their radioactive content, which should be unacceptable to anyone whose aim is implementing an exit sign that offers the most cost savings while supporting the environment.
In terms of dollars, recent energy efficiency research shows just how much you can save by switching form electrical signs to photoluminescent signs. According to one study, companies that replace 100 incandescent signs with photoluminescent signs can save roughly $3,700 annually in utility costs alone. Add in the savings that result from not having to maintain the signs, and the savings increase even more. Although exit signs are often considered one of the smallest elements of a company’s carbon footprint, research shows that implementing green signs can make a difference, both to the environment and to your annual utility bill.