Retrofitting High Rise Buildings with Photoluminescent Egress Systems

Back in 2006, a local New York City law required that all high rise buildings be retrofitted to include photoluminescent egress markings in emergency stairwells. Since then, only a small percentage of buildings have followed through, and many who took the time to put photoluminescent materials in their stairwells didn’t consider replacing their electric emergency exit signs with photoluminescent signs.

This is a mistake for a number of reasons. Certainly, undergoing an emergency lighting retrofit sounds like an unnecessary and costly ordeal, but it may actually be required by your local building codes and it will save you money in the long run.

Many buildings constructed fifteen or more years ago rely on electric emergency lighting because that was the main choice of the time. Today, there is a much better option that is supported by both the International Building Code and the International Fire Code. Retro emergency lighting reliant on electric boxes is costly to install, maintain, and operate. It’s also less likely to be effective in emergency situations than photoluminescent emergency lighting.

Safety
Your building should adhere to and ideally exceed local codes for building safety. That helps reduce your liability in the event of an emergency and keeps your tenants safe. While electronic emergency lights have a tendency to fail when the power goes out, photoluminescent systems are extremely reliable. There is no risk of wiring, bulbs, or batteries going bad. The material simply charges whenever ambient light hits its surface and will glow in excess of 90 minutes when fully charged.

Photoluminescent signs are highly visible in both lighted and dark conditions as well as smoky conditions. That’s why the International Building Code, the International Fire Code, and the NFPA Life Safety Code 101 all approve the use of photoluminescent exit signs.

Cost
Keeping the electric lighting you already have in place will actually cost you more over the years. Disregarding the added costs of wiring and installing your electric signs, those signs take up a great amount of energy every year. A building with 100 incandescent exit signs will spend about $3,500 on average operating those signs. Plus, if you’re adhering to safety codes, you should be fully draining and recharging the battery packs in each of those signs every year.

Photoluminescent signs, on the other hand, have no significant operating costs and can last for 25 years with simply an occasional dusting.

Learn more about how an emergency lighting retrofit could save your business money by contacting Jessup Manufacturing, the makers of GloBrite.

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