From the Principal: “Lessons learned from Lockdown” – June 2020 Newsletter

Well, by the time this Newsletter is distributed, we will have endured 65 days of Lockdown albeit that we had moved to Stage 4 which allowed some business to start functioning at a low level.  On 1 June 2020 as we will all ease into Stage 3, many will celebrate when their business can return to a higher level of activity, more people will return to work and the wheels and gears of economic activity will begin to turn.

We fully appreciate that the economy has suffered considerably and that includes many individuals, some of whom are students.  At BHA Lighting, our lighting design practise, has also been adversely affected, however, we are confident that projects will be revitalised and new projects will slowly filter through to us.

Enough of that!  The future is positive and therefore we have developed a plan to further improve our entire product offering both in BHA School of Lighting and BHA Lighting.

We have been developing some exciting new video content, the first of which will be uploaded onto the system soon.  The new video content which has and will continue to be produced in-house, will cover the more complex subjects in each Module that the students study.  The videos will greatly enhance the e-learning experience for all students.

The Series 2 webinars have been extremely well received by all attendees.  We are developing a new series which will be exciting and will be of interest to a broad audience. Once again, professionals will be able to claim CPD credits.

A number of our students have taken advantage of the lockdown period to fast track their studies, whilst many have ensured that they have kept to their Study Plans which I also monitor as a service to assist them and remind them when their assignments are due.  I have a major concern for those students who, despite reminders and communications with them, continue to fall behind.  I guess that is true of life in general.  I am reminded of the old expression: “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink” which dates back to 1175.

During the lockdown period, I have attended a number of webinars presented by the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD, Chicago, Illinois, USA), The Institution of Lighting Professionals (The ILP, UK), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES, USA), the Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa (IESSA) and varies other sales and general business related webinar presentations.  The most useful and certainly where I personally learnt and benefited most were the IALD, The ILP and IES webinars.  I encourage every student and professional to attend as many webinars as possibly.  You will be astounded at how much you can learn and benefit from the experiences.

On the subject of illumination education, the opinions were unanimous when it came to employment of staff in the “new normal business practise”, and that was qualified staff with a sound and internationally accepted qualification will be the preferred candidates for employment.  The opinion that was expressed was based on past experiences with unqualified staff which limited growth in their practices and that qualified staff could manage projects with minimal oversight from the partners or owners.

It has been particularly interesting to hear and learn how other professionals around the world have dealt with the lockdown and how they have planned to deal with the new post lockdown new “Normal” business and professional environment.  I have also learnt a considerable amount from the webinars about how the new working environment and social distancing will require different and new approaches to lighting design where no previous experience or standards exist.

Another interesting area that has been covered, is Ultra-Violet C (UV-C) or Far UV-C to sanitise and eliminate bacteria, germs and COVID-19.  For some time, there was no proof that UV-C in either form would in fact kill the virus.  It is only within the last two weeks that the first proof has been published.  However, it is widely known an accepted when human skin (erythema, a form of sunburn) or when the human eye is exposed to UV – C light it causes photokeratitis (snow blindness) or photoconjunctivitis (pink eye).  whilst these problems usually clear within 48 hours to 72 hours, they nevertheless cause considerable pain and discomfort.  A number of lighting manufacturers have approached me for detailed scientific information about UV-C light for the elimination of the virus in spaces and on surfaces.  I have willingly provided them with everything that I know plus research papers, CIE documentation and more.

Ushio are accelerating the production of their Far UV-C Excimer lamps which have been shown to be highly effective against the COVID-19 virus.  Furthermore, it is much safer than the standard LED UV-C lamps or other germicidal products.  The UV-C light emitted by Excimer lamps does not penetrate the human skin or the soft tissue in human eyes.  It will allow for the safe use whilst people or patients are in the space.

Manufacturers planned to manufacture UV-C scans in the form of an arch similar to that of a metal detector arch as used at airports, however, it has been found to be flawed and have little effect of a person who has moved through the arch because the virus does not reside on their skin but in the droplets emitted when breathing, speaking, sneezing or coughing.

Similarly it has been found that the disinfectant spray tunnels used at  the entrances to facilities or workplaces, pose a greater harm to humans walking through than any benefit.  Once again, the virus is not on the surface of the person, but in the droplets emitted.  Scientists have this week stated that the spray tunnels should not be used.

As I continue to read about the products being developed, in many cases full marks to the developers for trying to do something, there is still so much that even the experts do not know about this new plague of biblical proportions.

I encourage you all to keep reading, but always try to maintain a balanced view.

A Warm Welcome to these New Students:

                • Mia Koster, Von Design Group, Johannesburg – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course
                • Dylan Potgieter, Giantlight, Johannesburg – BHASL003C19: Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering Course

This June we wish the following students a very happy birthday:

                      • Charne Gunning, Australia – 2 June
                      • Mia Koster, Windhoek, Namibia – 6 June
                      • Irish Frederick, Cape Town – 9 June
                      • Pieter Venter, johannesburg 9 June
                      • Bertus Esterhuysen, Witbank 12 June
                      • Daemian Mare, Durban 17 June
                      • Ayanda Mavundla, Pretoria – 21 June
                      • Leon Strydom, Centurion – 24 June

The following students have passed the First Year Final Examinations successfully to continue their journey to Second Year:

Cindy Kim Montague, Leonel Esteban Garcia Nunez, Enzo Manna & Bevan Rose

We wish the following students who are preparing for examinations much success:

Lorraine de Bruyn & Andre Roosenschoon

Join our Alumni and Follow us on LinkedIn –

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BHA School of Lighting is slashing the price of all courses by offering a 40% discount when you enrol for any course before 30 June 2020.

Registered professional members of SAIA, SAIAT and CESA are eligible to earn CPD credits for all self-study activities.

For a detailed list of short courses please visit –

The Advanced Diploma in Illumination Engineering (NQ7) is also available at the discounted rate –


First, let’s look at a graphic which will aide your understanding about UV Light.  Remember that only UV-C can be used with due care, all other forms of UV light are harmful to humans.  See below:

The coronavirus pandemic has breathed new life into a decades-old technique that can zap viruses and bacteria: ultraviolet light.

Hospitals have been using it for years to cut down on the spread of drug-resistant superbugs and to disinfect surgical suites. But there is now interest in using the technology in spaces like schools, office buildings, and restaurants to help reduce coronavirus transmission once public spaces are open again.

“Germicidal ultraviolet technology has been around for probably 100 years and has had good success,” says Jim Malley, PhD, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New Hampshire. “Since early March, there’s been just an enormous amount of interest in it, and research funding to institutions around the world.”

The kind of light that’s used, ultraviolet C (UVC), is one of the three types of rays given off by the sun. It is filtered out by the ozone before it can get to life on Earth, thankfully: Though it can kill germs, it can also cause cancer and destroy our DNA and the corneas of our eyes.

That is the current dilemma with the use of UV technology, Malley says. It has great potential, but it can cause serious permanent damage.

The sanitizing effects of UV lights have been seen with other coronaviruses, including the one that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Studies have shown that it can be used against other coronaviruses. One study found at least 15 minutes of UVC exposure inactivated SARS, making it impossible for the virus to replicate. New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority announced the use of UV light on subway cars, buses, technology centers, and offices. The National Academy of Sciences says although there is no concrete evidence for UV’s effectiveness on the virus that causes COVID-19, it has worked on other similar viruses, so it would likely fight this one too.

Malley’s lab is doing research on how well UVC can sanitize devices and protective gear that first responders use, and have recently been forced to reuse, like N95 masks.

Since the interest in UVC spiked, Amazon announced the creation of an ultraviolet robot: a metal frame on wheels equipped with ultraviolet tube lights, meant for use in Amazon warehouses and Whole Foods stores. Other products, like UVC hand wands, are meant for at-home use. There are several portable UV sanitizing devices whose manufacturers claim they kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on phones, pacifiers, and other surfaces that can get contaminated.

Despite the potential in commercial UV use, many germicide experts have little faith in home products. They aren’t regulated, nor have they been studied sufficiently by scientists, says Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona who has earned the nickname “Dr. Germ.”

“If someone were to ask me whether they should invest in a home UV light, I wouldn’t do it right now,” he says. “There’s just not enough data on them, and there’s a lot of room for user error.”

It is unlikely that just quickly scanning a surface with a hand-held device will do any significant damage to viruses or bacteria, he says. Malley cautions that many people misunderstand how hard it is to come up with useful UVC technology.

“It takes good engineering and science to develop it correctly,” he says. “You get what you pay for.” Although some of these may be effective, “there’s a lot of rubbish out there,” he says.

Companies that specialize in UV products exclusively have come out with new products in the last few months marketed for use against COVID-19, though no conclusive research has been done. UV Angel, a pathogen control company in Grand Haven, MI, unveiled two products in April and has seen a huge uptick in interest from markets outside the health care realm.

“We’ve had a 100% increase in interest — normally we’d primarily deal with hospitals and doctor offices. But now, we’re not only selling in those markets, we’re also hearing a lot more from call centres, office buildings, schools, fast-food restaurants, and coffee shops,” says Linda Lee, DrPH, chief medical affairs and science officer for Angel UV.

But safety concerns remain, and some researchers have already started examining ways to harness the destructive properties of UV light while suppressing the dangers.

David Brenner, PhD, director of the Centre for Radiological Research at Columbia University, says there is a narrow band of UV light called “far-UVC” that can kill viruses without getting through living skin cells.

Far-UVC’s wavelength is shorter than conventional germicidal wavelength — about 222 nanometers, rather than 254 nanometers. Brenner was studying this type of light to kill influenza before COVID-19 hit.

Although it is possible to use UVC when people are out of harm’s way — as hospitals have done in operating rooms after hours, and New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is doing on subways — there needs to be an effective way to use this technology while people are around to help reopen the economy, Brenner says. He envisions the use of safe overhead far-UVC lamps in indoor spaces like doctors’ offices, schools, shelters, airports, and airplanes.

Research awaiting peer review has already said that far-UVC is good for fighting two other types of airborne coronaviruses.

Several companies are making far-UVC lamps, though approval by the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency will take several months, Brenner says. These lamps run between $500 and $1,000.  The cost in South Africa would be appreciably more considering the current rate of exchange and the overall cost of importation.

Brenner is 40 weeks into a 60-week study exposing mice to far-UVC for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and there have been no harmful effects, he says.


The short answer is yes. Let’s explore the possibilities, starting with monitoring. To maximise efficiencies, monitoring services need to be remotely accessible. This allows data to be gathered, aggregated and processed – potentially by a third party – in the cloud. Once sieved, sorted and prioritised, this data can be displayed in a form that enables building owners and property managers to optimise energy savings or improve processes taking place across a given space.

Bluetooth is a short-range technology, which means that a gateway has to be deployed in order to establish connection with the cloud. Bluetooth mesh subnets can connect with the cloud either through a gateway that is plugged into the building’s IT infrastructure (usually a local area network), or through a gateway that reaches the cloud directly via cellular technology. The latter enables remote monitoring without having to rely on the building’s IT infrastructure. In multiple cases this might be a desired scenario, since such interaction often requires a number of arrangements and can cause various complications. Of course, to enable remote monitoring services, you will need software that supports such features.

Bluetooth mesh is a relatively young technology, but software solutions offering monitoring tools are already emerging on the market. It is possible to monitor not only the performance of the lighting system itself (such as luminaires’ health or energy consumption), but also the way the space is used by its occupants (occupancy heatmaps based on data from occupancy sensors, for example). More advanced monitoring tools allow for creating and managing multiple projects – ranging from single rooms to entire buildings – via a web-based interface that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

As for remote control, it should be carefully considered whether direct remote control capabilities are needed in professional lighting applications. In its basic functions, such as occupancy sensing or daylight harvesting, lighting control consists of relatively small autonomous systems. Occupancy status or daylight level in room A doesn’t impact light control in room B. And once we move a level higher, it becomes obvious that between buildings there are no such interactions at all. It is hard to come up with a case where you would need lighting in one building to be controlled from another building. Remote thermostat control in smart homes makes sense because it takes time to heat up a building – but you don’t need the light unless you’re inside a given space.

Advanced lighting control strategies are based on very precise rules, but it all happens fully autonomously. Such architecture could be described as a full authority system, similar to the ones used in jet engine control.  Bluetooth mesh puts a software controller into each luminaire. This controller acts like a Fadec (full authority digital electronic control) – it processes parameters and commands to influence luminaires’ behaviour. The fact that it is an autonomous and locally operating unit produces tangible benefits that are particularly important in the case of wireless networks. However, the most important benefit of shortening the distance (both literally and figuratively) between the controller and the controlled entities is the radically increased reliability.

As far as multi-building lighting control is concerned, it is not our goal to centrally control the output of each luminaire in every building. The luminaires will be doing just fine considering how extensively Bluetooth mesh supports advanced lighting control strategies. What is needed is the centrally-controlled scheduling that would allow for implementing relevant lighting scenes for movable holidays, national anniversaries, etc. With such central schedules, property managers can easily e.g. light up the facades of multiple buildings within one office complex – so that they match the country’s national colors on the Independence Day. Another example could be a centrally imposed reduction in luminaires’ output of e.g. 10% that would allow for meeting the energy consumption target previously agreed with the energy provider. In both cases, it is necessary to set up relevant scenes that are managed centrally. But in the end, a scene is just a set of parameters for the controllers. And the controllers implement such scenes locally whenever needed.

To sum up, Bluetooth mesh introduces autonomous real-time control. It is full authority control realised at the level of individual zones or rooms. In a multi-building scenario, you can centrally control scenarios and schedules, configure calendars, or change operational parameters. But the implementation of these parameters takes place locally. The improved efficiencies of this model are intuitively obvious. They can be achieved thanks to the unique properties of Bluetooth mesh and its distributed control architecture.


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