Do We Need New Color Metrics?

LEDThe proliferation of solid-state light sources has highlighted the limitations of the CRI metric as a predictor that fully represents how people perceive color. This article in ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING describes these limitations and efforts to create a new metric.

Check it out here.

In March 2013, the IES formed the Color Metric Task Group to investigate alternatives to CRI. The group is currently writing a Technical Memorandum that may propose a path toward a new color metric.

Lighting’s Digital Makeover

MIT Technology Review recently published an article about how Lighting and the Internet are merging, and what that means. I found this excerpt to be of particular interest:

“Another look at how lighting systems are changing will emerge this November, when a 14-story regional headquarters for Deloitte, nearing completion in Amsterdam, will be festooned with networked LEDs in each fixture—the first such installation for Philips.

“Each of 6,500 light fixtures will have an IP address and five sensors—all of them wired only to Ethernet cables. (They’ll use “power over Ethernet” technology to deliver the juice to each fixture as well as data.) The fixtures include a light sensor to dim the LEDs during the day, and a motion detector that covers the area directly beneath each light and turns the light off when no one is there. “We expect to spend 70 percent less on light, because systems [give] us much more control,” says Erik Ubels, chief information officer at Deloitte in the Netherlands. Additional sensors in the LED fixtures can monitor temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, and heat, turning the lights into a kind of building-management system.”

That’s the Internet of Things in action, and an excellent example of how LED luminaires may serve as a “Trojan Horse” for it–a platform for the installation of sensors that make it happen. I’ll be very interested to see how the project turns out. If they publish measurable outcomes, I’ll be sure to share it.

Check out the article here.

What the Heck is the Internet of Things, Anyway?

What’s the Internet of Things, and what does it mean?

MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW has the answer here.

Career Opportunity: Industrial Designer, Mechanical Engineer for Kenall

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISEMENT

Industrial Designer, Mechanical Engineer

kenall1As Kenall’s Industrial Designer/ME you will research, conceptualize and develop new state of the art lighting products. The ideal candidate will be able to convey ideas using visual mediums, including hand sketches and possess a working knowledge of 3-D CAD modeling, Solidworks and/or Inventor.

Kenall’s product development is a cascade process consisting of three primary groups: Ideation, Proof of Concept and Sustainability.

Qualifications:

• Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Industrial Design
• Strong mechanical and electrical aptitude
• Proven ability to free hand sketch in isometric and 3-D perspective
• ALL levels of experience will be considered, including enthusiastic new graduates
• Previous experience in the field of solid state lighting a plus

Founded in 1963 by Ken Hawkins, Kenall Manufacturing carved a niche within the industry by creating the first impact and vandal resistant lighting products, and continues that mission today by providing intelligent, durable and sustainable solutions to complex lighting problems. As the company’s second generation CEO, Jim Hawkins has expanded the company’s vision to include sealed lighting for containment or clean spaces, high abuse lighting for public access areas, as well as correctional, healthcare, and transportation lighting.

1963-2013-Celebrating 50 years

JOIN US as we move to our new custom designed, state of the art 355,000-sq.ft. manufacturing headquarters in Kenosha, WI in early 2015!

Click here to apply.

NEMA Launches New ANSI-accredited Lighting Systems Committee

In what is surely a sign of the times, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recently announced the new ASC 137 Lighting Systems Committee. This committee has received approval from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Executive Standards Council as an Accredited Standards Committee (ASC). This approval is the culmination of a multimonth process and will allow the committee to write American National Standards within its scope.

The launch of this committee puts NEMA in a position to drive development of codes and standards for lighting systems technologies. ASC 137 will develop and approve standards under its defined scope:

“To develop standards and specifications for indoor and outdoor lighting systems installed in an application with consideration of human health and comfort, personal security, the physical environment, energy consumption and daylight integration. Such a system includes components (e.g., luminaires, sensors/controllers, and windows or skylights) and associated software designed to minimize energy use while maintaining lighting quality, and that may be interconnected to provide control, monitoring functions, and interface with related systems.”

“Standardization for compatibility, interoperability, performance, and system security are crucial to accelerating the adoption of lighting systems,” says NEMA President and CEO Kevin Cosgriff.

Product Monday: Tangent by Volkslyte

Volkslyte’s Tangent is a 2-in.-wide luminaire available in suspended downlight and uplight/downlight as well as surface-mounted and recessed configurations. Volkslyte factory-curves the extruded aluminum profile to almost any radius or bent shape, lighting the contour from within. Standard- (6W/linear ft.) and high-output (12W/linear ft.) LED (T6 cold cathode also available), color temperatures 2700K-4000K, dimming options.

Click here to learn more.

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State of Illumination 2014

Below is an article I contributed to the June issue of TED Magazine, reprinted with permission:

The American Institute of Architects’ Consensus Construction Forecast predicted nonresidential construction spending to increase 5.8 percent in 2014 and 8 percent in 2015, a rebound led by the commercial sector. Combined with a healthy market for lighting upgrades, this promises good opportunities for lighting sales. Within the lighting category, tightening energy codes, product regulation and rising energy costs are promoting demand for the most energy-efficient solutions such as LED and robust controls. As advances in LED product manufacturing reduce cost, LED lighting solutions are becoming increasingly economical as retrofit as well as new construction options, which is expected to drive significant growth in sales for luminaires and controls over the next few years.

As a result, lighting and control manufacturers see big opportunities in the coming years for themselves and their electrical distributor partners. TED talked to top executives at five leading lighting and control manufacturers to get their take on the current state of the lighting industry—and what lies ahead.

The LED revolution

Jaime Irick, General Manager, North America Professional Solutions, GE Lighting “LED is transforming the lighting industry from a short product life cycle to a long digital product lifecycle. With these longer cycles, the industry transforms from units to value. Manufacturers can begin to build more value-based systems that combine multiple users’ needs into lighting systems. We no longer need to think about lighting systems as purely utilitarian, providing only light. With the evolution of the Internet of Things, we can begin to understand user needs and what outcomes they desire.”

Jaime Irick, General Manager, North America Professional Solutions, GE Lighting
“LED is transforming the lighting industry from a short product life cycle to a long digital product lifecycle. With these longer cycles, the industry transforms from units to value. Manufacturers can begin to build more value-based systems that combine multiple users’ needs into lighting systems. We no longer need to think about lighting systems as purely utilitarian, providing only light. With the evolution of the Internet of Things, we can begin to understand user needs and what outcomes they desire.”

LED lighting has come a long way since the first major commercial general lighting product introductions of the mid 2000s, and is now the primary driver in change in the lighting industry. Today, LED luminaires and lamps are being produced and sold in significant volume, competing with conventional technology in virtually every application. Utility rebates are now strongly supporting the technology. While LED is still a young technology representing a small portion of the overall installed lighting base, it is carving out a rapidly increasing share of new luminaire and lamp sales—a trend driven by steady improvements in efficacy, service life and cost.

“The table stakes for the transformation away from traditional sources in terms of efficiency in lumens per watt, costs in lumens per dollar and fixture life have been met, and adoption in new construction and retrofit in existing installations is significant and accelerating,” says Steve Lydecker, senior vice president, technology solutions for Acuity Brands Lighting. “Third-party projections for 50 percent conversion by 2015 are easily on track, and many of our segments are past this conversion benchmark already.”

For evidence of the importance of LED technology, one need look no further than Cree, launched less than a decade ago to specialize in LED product manufacturing and now a $1.4 billion company. Greg Merritt, vice president, marketing, lighting, says the combination of LED product performance and cost has reached a sweet spot for upgrading conventional lighting systems in many applications in existing buildings, creating a growing wave of opportunity. “For distributors, this transition to LED is probably one of the largest opportunities they have ever seen,” he says. “Distributors can go back to their existing customers and offer them a solution that will pay for itself.”

Kraig Kasler, Vice President, Marketing and Product Management, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting business “Distributors should invest in education upfront to stay abreast on the evolution of technology and lean on manufacturers they can trust to provide them with innovative and reliable lighting and controls solutions.”

Kraig Kasler, Vice President, Marketing and Product Management, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting business
“Distributors should invest in education upfront to stay abreast on the evolution of technology and lean on manufacturers they can trust to provide them with innovative and reliable lighting and controls solutions.”

Kraig Kasler, vice president, marketing and product management for Eaton’s Cooper Lighting business, agrees. “Due to the total cost of ownership and the ongoing savings, LED solutions have already become a compelling choice for retrofit/upgrade projects,” he says. “What this means for distributors is the opportunity to become more of an energy solutions provider. Rather than just showcasing solutions that might appear cost-effective, many now have a much better understanding of the benefits of LED technology and can clearly explain the energy value propositions and paybacks.”

LED technology is arguably the most disruptive technology to impact the lighting industry in decades, and the pace of change has been dramatic. The industry has had to produce new standards in a very short period of time. And manufacturers have had to adapt to the unique characteristics of a new light source.

“The biggest change we’ve seen is the ability to fully integrate LEDs within the fixture to optimize optical performance and thermal management,” Kasler points out. “This is in stark contrast to how things have been done in the past, with manufacturers typically designing around existing lamp and ballast standards.”

LED is expected to be particularly disruptive in the long term as the anticipated long service life of LED products takes its toll on the maintenance, repairs and operations (MRO) segment of the electrical distributor’s business. Various industry forecasts have predicted a decline in industry sales starting sometime in 2017-2010. Merritt puts it frankly: “The long life-cycles of LED lighting mean that businesses built on lamp and ballast replacements will likely no longer be viable. Manufacturers and distributors alike will need to offer solutions that deliver real value to their customers rather than depending on product failure.”

Steve Lydecker, Senior Vice President, Technology Solutions, Acuity Brands Lighting “The table stakes for the transformation away from traditional sources [to LED] in terms of efficiency in lumens per watt, costs in lumens per dollar and fixture life have been met, and adoption in new construction and retrofit in existing installations is significant and accelerating. Third-party projections for 50 percent conversion by 2015 are easily on track, and many of our segments are past this conversion benchmark already.”

Steve Lydecker, Senior Vice President, Technology Solutions, Acuity Brands Lighting
“The table stakes for the transformation away from traditional sources [to LED] in terms of efficiency in lumens per watt, costs in lumens per dollar and fixture life have been met, and adoption in new construction and retrofit in existing installations is significant and accelerating. Third-party projections for 50 percent conversion by 2015 are easily on track, and many of our segments are past this conversion benchmark already.”

He adds, however, that there will still be opportunity, but that opportunity will center around optimization rather than replacement. “As digital devices, the full potential of LED luminaires is still unrealized,” Merritt says. “As more intelligence and capabilities are built into fixtures and efficacies continue to improve, there will likely be new reasons for customers to upgrade fixtures unrelated to product lifespan. If a solution offers a compelling return on investment, users will continue to upgrade their lighting.”

Jamie Irick, general manager, North America Professional Solutions for GE Lighting, sees lighting controls as an avenue to generating additional revenue opportunities in an LED future. “LED is transforming the lighting industry from a short product life cycle to a long digital product lifecycle,” he says. “With these longer cycles, the industry transforms from units to value. Manufacturers can begin to build more value-based systems that combine multiple users’ needs into lighting systems. We no longer need to think about lighting systems as purely utilitarian, providing only light. With the evolution of the Internet of Things, we can begin to understand user needs and what outcomes they desire. Integrating various sensors, communications and software capability creates a ceiling network that is capable of delivering more value to users than simply light.”

Kasler, meanwhile, says that while the MRO market is weakening, the existing buildings market is strong, stating: “There is a huge installed base of legacy technology that will continue to provide upgrade opportunities.”

The controls revolution

Greg Merritt, Vice President, Marketing, Lighting, Cree, Inc. “The long life-cycles of LED lighting mean that businesses built on lamp and ballast replacements will likely no longer be viable. Manufacturers and distributors alike will need to offer solutions that deliver real value to their customers rather than depending on product failure.”

Greg Merritt, Vice President, Marketing, Lighting, Cree, Inc.
“The long life-cycles of LED lighting mean that businesses built on lamp and ballast replacements will likely no longer be viable. Manufacturers and distributors alike will need to offer solutions that deliver real value to their customers rather than depending on product failure.”

Adoption of ever-tightening commercial building energy codes across the United States has resulted in significant growth in demand for automatic lighting controls. Digital control has produced sophisticated solutions offering unprecedented capabilities. Wireless control is delivering the benefits of automatic lighting controls to existing buildings. As digital devices, LED lighting is highly compatible with lighting controls, which can accelerate energy savings while extending the life of the source. As a new light source, however, LED also presents compatibility challenges.

“The desire to control light has never been greater,” says Brian Donlon, vice president, sales USA for Lutron Electronics. “In addition to the energy savings you get from dimming any light source, customers appreciate and expect better ambience in their offices and homes. As the price of wireless and digital technology continues to drop, and people become used to controlling their everyday devices through their iPad or even their phone, the desire for wirelessly and digitally controlled lighting will only grow.”

Donlon sees the lighting controls category evolving from centering on devices to systems, which requires a change in thinking. “The number one thing, which is both an opportunity and a challenge,” he points out, “is the need for the lighting industry to better educate customers about the differences between light sources and how to effectively control them. Lamps and fixtures are no longer a commodity—where a product from one manufacturer acts exactly the same as that from any other—and education is key moving forward as people adapt to the ever-changing market.”

From monitoring to color tuning to using LED lighting to communicate information to mobile devices, the future for controls carries exciting potential for how owners use their lighting and users interact with spaces. “Future LED systems will feature integrated dimming controls within every fixture as an add-on option, networked together into a responsive and controlled system across a customer’s site,” Irick says. “This network of fixtures will further drive energy reduction, efficiently controlling light levels in response to sensors that provide feedback on building occupant activities, as well as an understanding of ambient lighting as part of the day/night cycle.”

Brian Donlon, Vice President Sales USA, Lutron Electronics “The number one thing, which is both an opportunity and a challenge, is the need for the lighting industry to better educate customers about the differences between light sources and how to effectively control them. Lamps and fixtures are no longer a commodity—where a product from one manufacturer acts exactly the same as that from any other—and education is key moving forward as people adapt to the ever-changing market.”

Brian Donlon, Vice President Sales USA, Lutron Electronics
“The number one thing, which is both an opportunity and a challenge, is the need for the lighting industry to better educate customers about the differences between light sources and how to effectively control them. Lamps and fixtures are no longer a commodity—where a product from one manufacturer acts exactly the same as that from any other—and education is key moving forward as people adapt to the ever-changing market.”

The distributor’s role

The lighting industry is undergoing transformation, but the fundamental relationship between manufacturers and distributors remains the same. And the key to sales growth and higher margins is to promote the most efficient, effective solutions for both new and existing construction.

“Distributors want to give their customers the best solutions,” says Merritt. “Manufacturers still need distributors for their local relationships and fulfillment capabilities. Technological changes mean that users often look directly to the manufacturers’ website for detailed product information. However, distributors are often the trusted adviser who has the final opportunity to make a recommendation.”

As such, distributors should develop their lighting expertise, keep up with technological changes, and align themselves with quality products. “Distributors should invest in education upfront to stay abreast on the evolution of technology,” says Kasler, “and lean on manufacturers they can trust to provide them with innovative and reliable lighting and controls solutions.”

Irick believes distributors have extraordinary opportunity and influence to generate demand, but that role is not guaranteed. “The biggest threat distributors face is maintaining the status quo and allowing others to fill that role,” he says. “The result at best would be lower distributor margins and at worst would be to be placed on the sidelines. Many new entrants and alternate channels are already selling around distribution.”

Geoff Marlow, senior vice president, sales for Acuity Brands Lighting, offers the final word: “Electrical distribution benefits by moving further along the value creation curve. Benefits in energy savings, controls integrated solutions—smart fixtures and applications, quality of light, and evolving markets such as renovation—essentially a market as big as you want it to be—all pose tremendous opportunity for our partners. Cutting a path through the noise and a partnered commitment with the manufacturer creating value with and through electrical distribution, not around it, will be increasingly rewarded.”

Current Conditions EBCI Climbs for Second Month in a Row in August

NEMA’s Electroindustry Business Conditions Index (EBCI) for current conditions in North America climbed to 68.2 in August from 54.5 in July.

Slightly less than half of the survey panelists reported business conditions improved from July to August compared to only 9% claiming they deteriorated. The remaining 45% of panelists reported conditions were largely unchanged.

The EBCI for future North American conditions was unchanged from July at 84.1, remaining near the top of its historical range.

For the second straight month, 73% of survey respondents said they expect conditions to improve over the next half-year and only five percent reported that they anticipate a near-term deterioration in the business environment.

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Architecture Billings Index Reaches Highest Mark Since 2007

The last three months have shown steadily increasing demand for design services and the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is now at its highest level since 2007. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 55.8, up noticeably from a mark of 53.5 in June. This score reflects an increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings).

The new projects inquiry index was 66.0, following a very strong mark of 66.4 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in July was 54.9.

“Business conditions for the design and construction marketplace, and those industries associated with it, appear to be well-positioned for continued growth in the coming months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The key to a more widespread boost in design activity continues to be the institutional sector which is starting to exhibit signs of life after languishing for the better part of the last five-plus years.”

Key July ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: Northeast (55.5), South (55.1), Midwest (54.1), West (53.5)

• Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (61.0), multi-family residential (56.5), institutional (53.3), commercial / industrial (51.2)

• Project inquiries index: 66.0

• Design contracts index: 54.9

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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The Art of Landscape Lighting

landscapelightingMy column in the July issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR describes popular landscape lighting design techniques that can be used to transform exterior spaces through illumination. Catch it here.