Hospitality/Leisure, How to Light, Lighting Controls

How to Light: Don’t begin a hospitality lighting refit without reading this


The principal legislative requirements for hospitality and leisure facilities in the UK lie in the relevant Building Regulations. These are now separated out between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and while there are some core elements, each has its own nuances so make sure you have the right guidance document for where your building is.

For lighting, the main crux is the part dealing with conservation of fuel and power. In a nutshell, it’s energy efficiency. Hospitality has always been a bit of a grey area where the building regulations are concerned as it includes ‘general areas’ as well as ‘display lighting’, which has much less stringent efficacy demands. The third section is for ‘office, industrial and storage’ where luminaire performance instead of lamp efficacy, is the driver, with additional facility to bring in lighting controls.

The Building Regs, the HSE’s guide to lighting at work and theEsos regulations. Pay attention, we’ll be asking questions later

If you’re feeling lazy, it would be easy to convince yourself that all hospitality lighting is display lighting, but the guidance is quite clear that display lighting should be on separate controls to facilitate it being switched off when ‘people are not inspecting exhibits, merchandise or being entertained’. This effectively precludes the widespread use of inefficient sources, even in restaurants as more efficient lighting must be provided during cleaning, setting-up times etc. It is also worth noting that any task which is predominantly desk-based falls into the office category so reception areas will almost inevitably fall into this category.

The legislation governing the quantity of light is pretty much restricted to that published by the Health and Safety Executive, and its guide on lighting at work. As might be expected, it really only deals with the health and safety aspects of lighting for people in the workplace, rather than the creation of pleasant or appropriate lighting environments. It says it’s important that lighting in the workplace:

  • allows people to notice hazards and assess risks;
  • is suitable for the environment and the type of work (for example, it is not located against surfaces or materials that may be flammable);
  • provides sufficient light (illuminance on the task);
  • allows people to see properly and discriminate between colours, to promote safety;
  • does not cause glare, flicker or stroboscopic effects;
  • avoids the effects of veiling reflections;
  • does not result in excessive differences in illuminance within an area or between adjacent areas;
  • is suitable to meet the special needs of individuals;
  • does not pose a health and safety risk itself;
  • is suitably positioned so that it may be properly maintained or replaced, and disposed of to ensure safety;
  • includes, when necessary, suitable and safe emergency lighting.

The guide also gives recommended illuminance levels, although these are only split into five categories dependent on risk and level of detail with average illuminances ranging from 20 lx for circulation to 500 lx in drawing offices. It also gives minimum levels deemed acceptable. Given the limited scope of the categories, it is better to obtain more detailed guidance.



The Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) publishes a raft of lighting guidance which reflects the relevant European standards. This covers not just the recommended illuminance levels for the tasks involved, but also application guidance.

The SLL’s Guide to the Lighting of Licensed Premises differs from many of their technical guidance as it is aimed primarily at the manager of the premises – a non-expert. By contrast, the ‘Code for Lighting’ is highly technical and probably more suited to larger chains of premises with lighting specialists or facilities managers within the staff. Having said that, the licensed premises guide does tackle design considerations such as distinguishing the bar back from drinking or eating areas as well as detailed guidance on surface colours as well as key factors such as colour rendering and selection of suitable lamp types for different areas within the building and the principles in the guide can be applied in many different types of hospitality and leisure facilities.

Many people will have experienced poor lighting in restaurants and bars and the key remains to consider the users of the space. Creating a moody, subdued lit environment is not much help if you can’t read a menu. The SLL guidance always puts the users at the heart of its design guidance and the licensed premises guide is a useful starting point.



Much of the regulation and guidance for hospitality and leisure facilities covers the individual buildings. But companies comprising a large number of facilities, such as hotel or restaurant chains, must also comply with the new Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme, or Esos.

Esos will require large companies to conduct a full energy audit by the end of 2015 – and repeat it every four years.

The definition of a large undertaking is a company or organisation with 250 employees or with a turnover in excess of €50m (£38m, $57m); this includes all organisations – including not-for-profit ones – that are part of a corporate group that includes a large undertaking. If a company qualifies for Esos and is not fully covered by ISO 50001 they will need to carry out an Esos assessment.

Esos itself goes much further than purely the building premises; industrial processes and transport are also part of the assessment so companies with fleets of company cars or transportation lorries are going to have to assess each vehicle.

The deadline for submission of the Esos assessment is 5 December 2015.


Emergency lighting

To comply with the Fire Safety Order, you need to have emergency lighting and look after it properly. Facility managers or owners are required by law to test their emergency lighting once a month. The fines can be in the thousands for people who can’t provide a monthly test record, and the responsible person can end up with a hefty fine or even a prison sentence if someone ends up getting hurt as a result. Turn to page 60 for more on how to stay out of trouble on this one.



When is industrial not industrial? Well, in pretty much every chic hip eatery or drinkery in every major city in the UK. The prevalence of squirrel cage-style filament lamp dominates the interior design scene of just about anywhere that sells pulled pork these days. Now, these filament lamps clearly don’t meet any of the requirements of the Building Regulations and fall into the inefficient sources that were banned years ago. So how have they survived the cull? Simply because they are sold as non-domestic, ‘rough service’ lamps for use in industrial areas such as factories and building sites where they might get knocked about.

Retro-style exposed filament lamps and luminaires are big business. But it’s a fine line as to whether you could actually specify them if you reconsider the Building Regulations. Urban chic is all well and good, but there’s more choice than the ubiquitous squirrel, believe me.