Find a Lighting Engineer

Find a Lighting Engineer for projects of any size to develop residential, commercial or industrial solutions. Whether you are planning a renovation, require analysis or selection of interior fititngs, or are preparing for a new construction, an ideal Lighting Engineer for any location across Australia can be found here. All your questions about choosing, hiring and working with Lighting Engineers and the complete building process are answered below.  +

Published by Martyn Sanjay


Finding a lighting engineer

Working with a lighting engineer

Defects, disputes and redress

What do lighting engineers do?

Lighting architects and engineers occupy a conceptual niche in the design landscape. Bridging the gap between the functional and creative imperatives of architecture and engineering these professionals fuse the artistic spirit of a designer with the rigor and knowledge of a scientist.

Concerned primarily with the aesthetic, ergonomic and energy efficient utility of architectural lighting, the demand for lighting architects and engineers has burgeoned since the development of luminous translucent glass in the 1920’s and 30’s. Today, avant-garde digital technologies such as laser and LED avail lighting architects and engineers of the opportunity to irradiate structure and space in increasingly innovative and novel ways.

What qualifications and accreditation should a lighting engineer have?

Because lighting architecture and engineering are highly specialised professions requiring a substantial level of technical and theoretical expertise it is important that those working in this field have appropriately accredited academic qualifications.

To establish this, first confirm that the lighting architect or engineer possesses the right tertiary degree. This means checking that he or she has either a bachelor of architecture from an Australian university accredited by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) and the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA), or a bachelor of engineering recognised by the industry’s peak body, Engineers Australia.

Preferably, lighting architects or engineers should also possess graduate academic qualifications accredited by the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IES). The University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the Regency Institute of TAFE in South Australia, and RMIT University in Victoria all offer courses that afford IES membership.

Finally, check whether they are a member of a reputable professional body such as the Australasian Lighting Industry Association (ALIA), the Lighting Council of Australia, the European Lighting Designers’ Association (ELDA), or the IES.

Do I need a lighting engineer?

Lighting design is not an architectural essential. However, lighting architects and engineers can add value, lower costs and improve performance through the design and application of lighting tailored to the individual needs of the client.

Just as over-lighting and under-lighting can adversely affect consumer health and spending, so the right lighting can enhance architectural effects. The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) reports that the adroit management of lighting produces tangible personal and financial outcomes. “Good lighting enhances the mood and desirability of buildings and spaces” the IALD says. “ It contributes greatly to people's sense of well-being. And through cost-control techniques lighting designers help clients realise improved energy efficiency and reduce lighting costs”.

What special circumstances make them especially necessary?

Although the luminary expertise of lighting architects and engineers can be applied to all design contexts it is particularly useful in specific settings.

In households, lighting architecture offers a stylistic adjunct both to interior design and to landscaping that transcends conventional material modes of architectural expression.

The aesthetic appeal of illumination is especially important in the retail environment, providing deeper market penetration and increased consumer brand recognition.

The proliferation of glass in corporate design makes this setting particularly fertile for illumination. Architectural lighting design enables the glass skin of skyscrapers and corporate towers to assume a sublime verticality which gives voice to corporate philosophy. The manipulation of light’s ephemeral, transitory properties also enables the creation of hierarchies, dynamics and mood which can help to boost labour productivity.

Lighting architects are harnessing lighting in the public sector both to frame and to modernise heritage structures. It is also being employed to recruit aesthetic appeal for prominent but unglamorous civic structures.

How much should I pay for a lighting engineer?

Estimating the cost of employing an lighting architect or engineer is difficult and will vary greatly depending on the type and scale of the project, as well as on the experience and reputation of the architect/engineer.

How is payment organised?

Generally there are two methods of payment. An lighting architect/engineer may either provide a design to meet an established budget, or may help to establish the budget early in the design phase.

Can a lighting engineer save me on costs?

Proper cost control is fundamental to the success of any project. The participation of a professional lighting architect/engineer in a project can ensure long-term cost savings in terms of input, energy, and aesthetics.

If the lighting design is unique then the lighting architect/engineer may be helpful in obtaining an agreed upon price from the manufacturer.

In other instances, unit pricing may be obtained independently from the consulting architect/engineer and compared with that of the bidding contractors. Because an lighting architect/engineer does not manufacture, sell or install equipment, his or her involvement in the project at this stage may serve to encourage competition thereby keep costs down. “The lighting designer will select equipment from numerous manufacturers to help keep bids competitive and/or recommend lighting equipment or techniques to reduce installation costs” the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) says.

Lighting architects/engineers can reduce long-term operations costs and ensure BCA compliance by utilising energy saving best practices such as avoiding over-lighting and improving reflectance and daylight integration.

The value adding attributable to good aesthetic design is difficult to quantify commercially. The International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) admits that “the difference between great and average lighting design will depend upon the appreciation of the decision-makers.” However, the IALD also reports that good design can translate into better financial returns. “New studies are demonstrating the effects of lighting on retail sales, office productivity, and the ability to attract people to commercial downtown districts after dark” the IALD says.

What is the relevant state and national legislation covering lighting engineers?

Although the Trade Practices Act applies to corporations rather than individuals, members of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) and the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia (ACEA) are affected. The RAIA is itself incorporated, as are about one-third of member practices. The ACEA, although not incorporated, has many members whose practices are incorporated.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the statutory authority responsible for administering and ensuring compliance with the Trade Practices Act. As a result, individuals can bring an action only in limited circumstances under the Act’s consumer protection division. These parts deal with unfair practices, product safety and information, conditions and warranties in consumer transactions, actions against manufacturers/importers of goods, and product liability. Seek legal advice if you suspect a contracted lighting architect or engineer of breaching the Trade Practices Act.

The Building Code of Australia embodies Australian Government and building sector commitment to eliminate worst energy performance practices through a national standard approach to minimum performance requirements for buildings.

Although architects and engineers are familiar with the mechanism of the BCA, most lighting architects and engineers have had very little participation in its application. This is often problematic as the BCA has introduced a layer of task-based categories for lighting energy limits with which all new buildings must comply.

What are the relevant peak bodies and consumer watch dogs overseeing lighting engineers?

The Australian Council of Built Environment Design Professions (BEDP) is the peak organisation representing over 96,000 architects, engineers, planners, quantity surveyors, lighting designers and landscape architects throughout Australia. The RAIA is the national body specific to the architecture profession. It consists of 9000 members across Australia and overseas.

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (ACAA) is recognised as the national organisation responsible for establishing, coordinating and advocating national standards for the registration of architects in Australia and for the recognition of Australian architects overseas by the relevant Registration Authorities. Contact the ACAA if you want to confirm the purported accreditation of a particular lighting architect.

is the national body representing all engineering disciplines. Representing over 80,000 engineers, it works with government, industry and tertiary education providers to promote engineering as a discipline, and the professional development of its members.

The role of State and Territory Offices of Fair Trading is to safeguard consumer rights and to advise business and traders on fair ethical practice. The Home Building Act in NSW and its equivalent in other Australian States and Territories requires builders and tradespeople to be licensed for the work that they do, and to have proper contracts and insurance in place for most jobs.

How do I find a list of a lighting engineers? has a comprehensive database of Australian lighting architects and engineers. You can search your local area and you will be given a list of relevant names and contact details.

Who can tell me about good lighting engineers?

Industry publications are a good start. Try Specifier magazine, the Light Architecture Australia newsletter, Professional Lighting Design magazine, Architectural Lighting magazine and Lighting Magazine Australia. If these avenues prove fruitless consult the member lists of reputable industry bodies such as the Australian Lighting Industry Association (ALIA), the Lighting Council Australia, the European Lighting Designers’ Association (ELDA) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IES). The Australian Government directory of Australian cultural organisations and resources also contains a list of well known lighting architects and engineers.

How do I know if a lighting engineer is any good?

Fundamentally, ensure that the purported lighting architect/engineer possesses concrete academic qualifications and accreditation. Also, check whether the architect/engineer is a member of a reputable professional body such as the Australasian Lighting Industry Association (ALIA), the Lighting Council of Australia or the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IES).

Industry awards are another mark of professional quality – but do keep in mind who funds and runs the awards, and why. International awards conferred annually by the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) guarantee quality and are highly sought after. Nationally, the Illuminating Engineering Society of Australia and New Zealand (IES) presents annual awards for excellence in lighting design whilst awards given by the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturer’s Association (AEEMA) are also occasionally conferred on lighting architects and engineers.

Should I investigate more than one firm?

Yes, unless you have had a previous association with an lighting architect or engineer that worked well. However, because the industry is not regulated strictly it is advisable to investigate a number of options.

How do I narrow down a shortlist of lighting engineers?

Go online and visit the websites of some lighting architectures/engineers. Search using a reliable industry engine such as

A thorough lighting engineering firm’s website should provide examples of past projects completed by the particular lighting architect/engineer as well as his or her industry experience, academic qualifications and any awards received. This online investigation should give you a general idea of the type and scope of the architect’s work.

Narrow this list of candidates with a few phone calls. Ask some easy preliminary questions: if they’re available, or if they’re interested in a project of that size. Have some idea of what it is you want, and try to some it up in a couple of sentences.

How do architects appoint lighting engineers?

Most architects do not have formal lighting expertise so lighting architects and engineers are usually engaged as specialist subcontractors. They may be selected at the same time as the builder or at a later stage as required.

Because there are only a limited number of firms operating in the Australian market your architect will likely nominate a particular lighting architect/engineer with whom he or she has worked well previously. Alternately, lighting experts can be engaged through negotiation or through calling tenders.

How does the tender process work?

The tender process can be managed by your architect or the builder or a specialist consultant according to your requirements. (For example, an lighting engineer may supervise the tender process for the supply and installation of light fixtures).

There are two general methods of tender. Public tendering is by invitation extended via the press and is open to all irrespective of qualifications or experience. Private tendering usually involves the pre-selection of candidates with a familiarity and sound history in your type of project. Selective tendering in an illumination context is normally restricted to five or six lighting contractors and the niche quality of the lighting architecture/engineering industry means that private tendering is the norm.

It is incumbent on your architect to discuss subcontracting arrangements with you and to make recommendations. Furthermore, a good architect should assist you in evaluating tenders. Consideration should be paid primarily to value for money but should also be given to the tenderer’s ability to meet the project schedule, to appropriately staff your project, and to provide the necessary equipment. You should also consider the tenderer’s experience in your type of project, his or her reputation for quality work, and his or her financial stability.

What is the relationship between a builder and a lighting engineer?

You must confer closely with your builder before engaging an lighting architect or engineer. This is because it is the builder, and not the architect, who legally contracts with the lighting specialist. The Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) reports that ignorance of this legal relationship is a major contributing factor to contractual disputes in this area. “ The supplier or subcontractor selected must be acceptable to the builder as only the builder has a legal, contractual relationship with the supplier or subcontractor” the RAIA states.

How do I avoid legal troubles with my lighting engineer?

While criminal liability is pretty much unheard of in the architecture context civil liability does often arise. Usually, this is for breach of contract. However, civil liability sometimes also arises in equity (for restitution), under the Trade Practices Act and in tort (usually for negligence). For more information seek legal advice.

Make sure that you contract with an lighting architect/engineer who is covered by professional indemnity insurance. PII cover increases the viability of legal action as an effective method of redress of professional negligence claims. However, be aware that the number of lighting architects with PII cover has fallen dramatically in 2006 as cover grows more expensive – in the least twelve months the number of PII providers in Australia dropping from about 35 to less than 5.

Within the limits imposed by law, equity and legislation parties to a contract are able to exclude or modify their obligations as they see fit. This means that it is totally legal for an lighting architect or engineer to design an agreement which excludes him or her from liability, or to draft a contract in which one party purports to indemnify another.

Make sure to seek legal advice before entering into any legally binding contract.