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Lighting the way to happier tenants

Low-cost ways to brighten your building's curb appeal
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
by Latif Jamani and Bryant Tse

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to apartment buildings. For many prospective tenants, the outside appearance of a rental property can make or break whether they would choose to live there. Imagine coming home from a long day at work and entering a building with a beautifully lit exterior? Good lighting with a well-thought out design not only looks more enticing, but it also improves security—and it can be done with a low capital investment.

Here are some low-cost ways to get started:

1. Building façade lighting

The first component of any building’s outdoor lighting project is façade lighting. This creates a halo effect around your building, highlighting its architectural details and helping set it apart from other buildings in the area.

There are certain factors to keep in mind for landlords and property managers in urban or suburban settings. In suburban areas, light pollution can be a concern. Landlords need to strike a balance between having sufficient light around the building, and not flooding the area with too much light. One way to work around these restrictions is to have lighting around the façade of a suburban apartment building that sits low, which illuminates the building without adding light pollution.

Property managers of urban apartment buildings can be a little bit more adventurous with their lighting choices because they do not have to contend with the same concerns.

Outside lighting can help provide a visual beacon for your building and help draw the eye towards it in an otherwise busy skyline. Illuminating the sides of a building showcases its texture—whether it has tile, or stone, or stucco, it’s a nice way to create visual texture. A small amount of light can go a long way as the light can simply graze the sides of the building, avoiding hotspots so there is an even amount of light throughout.

Façade lighting is generally inexpensive and can be energy-efficient, as long as care is taken in the placement of the lighting fixtures and the selection of products that are used around the building. Colour temperature is something to consider as well. Cooler versus warmer lights give different dimensions and can dramatically change the look and feel of your building.

2. Landscape lighting

Some property managers and landlords have dismissed landscape lighting as it used to be difficult to maintain, especially in Canada’s harsh climates. However, thanks to new technology, landscape lighting is going through a huge resurgence.
Landscape lighting can enhance the ambience of the grounds around an apartment building, increasing the curb appeal of the entire property. When done well, it promotes the enjoyment of the surrounding areas of the building during the day as well as at night. Apartment dwellers may miss having an outdoor space available to them. If your property includes a greenspace or garden area, good landscape lighting can help them feel like they too can have a yard regardless if they live in an urban or suburban neighbourhood.

Property managers will be pleased to know that cost points have decreased significantly for landscape lighting. Because of new LED technology, light fixtures are now smaller than they used to be, since you can get more or less the same amount of illumination from smaller bulbs. They are easier to install, and can be hidden within trees and shrubs, making them less intrusive—especially in the daytime. New housing is now available that better protects the lights and is more resistant to the elements, so the fixtures last longer. Little to no maintenance is required; you can just set it and forget it. All of the costs are upfront, making it easier on your budget.

3. Roof lighting

One way to increase the curb appeal of high-rise apartment buildings is to install roof lighting. This type of outdoor lighting draws the eye up to the top of the building and can leave a striking impression. The possibilities are endless. A well-thought out lighting design can change the overall aesthetic of a building and truly transform its look.

Below is an example of a condo tower in Calgary that features a pyramid structure surrounded by arches on all four sides. The new lighting design recently added highlights these architectural details, making it standout from the surrounding buildings and giving it a distinct presence in the Calgary skyline. This approach also works with high-rise apartment buildings.

rooftop lighting

Another option is to add LED colour changing strips to the edges of your roofline. This is a recent trend that is growing because of its wide appeal. The lights can be changed in colour by season, or even for special events. The lights are easy to install, versatile, and are both low cost and low maintenance.

Other lighting considerations

Adding to the curb appeal of your building through lighting is easier and more cost effective than ever before. With the rise of new technology, designing and installing new fixtures is well worth considering. Older apartment buildings may have light installations that have not been maintained, or were left unchanged over time. Façade, landscape, and rooftop lighting can be retrofitted with newer fixtures that are not only more energy-efficient and require lower maintenance, but can also instantly update the look of your building.

For property managers with multiple units and buildings, creating a plan to roll out lighting updates over a period of time is advised, as is taking advantage of energy rebates being offered by provincial governments, and municipalities. Your local commercial lighting distributor can help you get started and can offer great advice—from design and installation, to energy rebates and cost management. Investing in improving an apartment building’s curb appeal will pay off in increased interest from potential tenants, as well as a positive experience for residents and the greater community.

Latif Jamani is the President of Calgary Lighting Products, located in Calgary. Bryant Tse is the President of Lumenix, based in Toronto, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa.

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