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Acuity’s Scott Roos on What’s New in Downlighting

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, VP Design, Downlight, Accent and Trac Products, Acuity Brands Lighting. The topic: trends in LED downlights. I’m happy to share his responses with you here.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, VP Design, Downlight, Accent and Trac Products, Acuity Brands Lighting. The topic: trends in LED downlights. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the March 2018 issue of tED Magazine.

DiLouie: How would you characterize the downlight lighting market in terms of size, and current demand for downlights?

Roos: When characterizing the downlight market, it is helpful to segment it into Residential and Commercial applications. Residentially, downlights continue to be a preferred fixture for providing general and accent lighting throughout the home. A home that incorporates well placed recessed lighting simply looks more spectacular and drives up both the resale value and quality of living for the homeowner. And LED technology has enabled smaller scale, highly efficient fixtures which makes downlighting an even more desirable amenity.

Commercially, downlighting is seeing increased use throughout the variety of applications from hospitality and retail to corporate, municipal and healthcare interiors. Downlights have always been an important commercial lighting technique with their unique ability to provide general, accent and wall wash illumination from an inconspicuous recessed source.

The expanded capability of LED technology to pack higher lumen packages into increasingly smaller diameter fixtures while controlling aperture brightness has made them even more useful and versatile. Downlighting is clearly one of the larger luminaire categories with estimates in the $2+ billion range for all market segments.

DiLouie: In what key areas have LED downlights improved over the past three years, and what benefits do these improvements offer?

Roos: Improved LED technology and luminaire designs have enabled smaller aperture, higher lumen downlights with more beam spread options and better control of aperture brightness…all while pushing the efficacy envelope to as high as 130 delivered lumens per watt. The comparison to previous generation LED and legacy technology downlights is remarkable. Consider that 6” or 8” aperture compact fluorescent downlights delivered only 35-40 lumens per watt, with 4” CFL downlights nearer to 25 LPW. And achieving 4,000 or greater delivered mean lumens for higher ceilings required extremely bright, larger diameter 8”-12” aperture downlights. Today there are 4” LED downlights that can deliver 8,000 lumens at 130LPW while maintaining extremely low aperture brightness!

Another interesting way to look at the greater versatility that today’s LED downlights afford is recognizing that the historical 20-30+% efficacy tradeoff to achieve the more upscale look of downlights versus the more utilitarian look of 2X2 or 2X4 troffers no longer exists. Today’s higher performance LED downlights equal or exceed the efficacy and lumen output of both fluorescent and LED troffers.

Yet another area of improvement for LED downlighting over the past few years is the greater range of higher color rendering choices up to 97 CRI along with the ability to specify Warm Dimming, Tunable White and Tunable Spectrum to further enhance interior aesthetics and support improved health, well-being and productivity.

LED downlights that take advantage of the latest LED, thermal management, driver and optics technology are head and shoulders better than both earlier generation LED and legacy technology downlights and can more optimally solve for a broader range of applications.

DiLouie: What are the top 5 trends in LED downlight design?

Roos: The top 5 trends in downlighting are:

1) Smaller, quieter apertures: 3”, 2” and even 1” aperture sizes have moved from specialty to mainstream. Lower-brightness reflector options and bevel style trims and mudded-in trimless installation have all become more common place. These small aperture fixtures are also available in surface and pendant mount cylinders for use in the increasingly popular open ceiling formats. And this miniaturization is enabling new linear format downlights with the lumens spread across multiple low brightness cells, some with the capability of individualized optical control and aiming.

2) More granular optical control: It is now possible to produce a wider range of beam angles and choose from either smooth, feathered distributions for uniform illumination or tighter distributions with high center beam punch with minimal spill outside of the main beam to achieve high contrast non-uniform downlighting and accent lighting. LED recessed wall washers are available that provide unprecedented top to bottom and side to side uniformity from apertures as small as 2”.

3) Higher Lumen Outputs: 4” downlights exceeding 8,000 delivered lumens, 6” downlights to 15,000 lumens and 8” downlights up to 20,000 lumens, combined with extremely long LED service life, have transformed high ceiling downlighting in spaces like atriums, auditoriums and convention centers.

4) Warm Dimming, Tunable White & Tunable Spectrum. The ability to dynamically change the appearance of a space by replicating the warm dimming characteristic of incandescent lighting, changing the color temperature for different times of day or events or even adjusting the hue and saturation to optimally light interior finishes and art has added new dimensions to downlighting and recessed accent lighting with impressive impacts on aesthetics and the productivity and well-being of occupants.

5) Low profile housings and surface mount downlights: Plenum space, especially in multi-story buildings, is more valuable than ever and shrinking. Lower profile recessed housings are therefore finding increasing applications. 1” thin surface mount downlights are available as a practical, cost efficient downlight alternative in concrete and fire rated ceilings where recessing fixtures is not practical.

DiLouie: How would you characterize progress made in ensuring compatibility and integration with controls?

Roos: Regarding compatibility and integration with lighting controls, there have been quantum improvements over the past few years. The performance and reliability of economical phase dimmable LED downlights has improved in terms of reliability, minimum dim levels and flicker, although you still need to validate dimmer compatibility with the luminaire manufacturer. 0-10V is still the most prevalent commercial lighting protocol, and you can now choose from a variety of 0-10V drivers with linear dimming down to 10% or 1% or logarithmic dim to dark to suit the aesthetic and budget needs of any project. DMX drivers are also now more widely available for downlighting in specialized applications such as theatres and auditoriums where the general lighting is being controlled as part of the theatrical lighting system. And economical and simple to commission plug and play Ethernet cabled and wireless protocols are available to enable individual fixture control, grouping and zoning independent of their placement on the electrical circuits.

DiLouie: What are typical benefits of upgrading existing downlights with LED retrofit kits? What’s the market opportunity?

Roos: The benefits of upgrading legacy technology downlights with LED retrofit kits include extreme energy savings and lower maintenance costs with rapid ROI paybacks. And if done thoughtfully, an improved quality of light can be achieved that improves the image that the building projects for the owner and the productivity, enjoyment and wellbeing of space occupants. The downlight retrofit market opportunity is huge, as the installed base of legacy technology downlights is orders of magnitude larger than new construction projects, and conversion of the installed downlighting base to LED is still in the early stages.

DiLouie: What are the main attributes of an LED downlight that electrical distributors would be looking for? How do they confidently select a quality product?

Roos: First, work with reliable manufacturers that you know and trust have invested in the sound development and thorough testing of their products and will stand behind them in the event of a problem. Be sure to compare luminaire efficacies, as there is currently a surprisingly wide range of performance spanning 60 to 130 delivered lumens per watt. When possible, specify multi-volt fixtures so you don’t run into surprises with the wrong voltage on a job site. Make certain that the right color temperature and CRI is specified to match other fixture types being used on the project. And most important be sure to pick the most appropriate good, better or best quality downlight in terms of price, efficacy, distribution and below the ceiling appearance to suit the needs of each project. A back of house installation versus lighting a lobby or boardroom in corporate interior call for two different categories of fixtures. When in doubt, ask your local sales representative for design assistance and advice.

DiLouie: What listings are important for downlights and why are they important?

Roos: Of course, a safety listing from UL or another accredited lab is table stakes. Being Energy Star listed offers some assurance that the product meets minimum performance and design standards. Above and beyond this look for the manufacturer to offer a system compatibility certification to demonstrate that the downlight/driver/controls combination has been designed and tested to provide consistent color appearance and out-of-the-box compatibility with simple commissioning.

DiLouie: What are value-added features distributors should be selling, and for what applications or problems are they ideally suited?

Roos: There are a lot of performance and design differences between LED downlights, even within the portfolio of a single manufacturer. Installation features or restrictions, fixture height and housing size, ease of replacing the light engine to name a few. The appearance of the trim and reflector are also important considerations, including when appropriate, the use of extremely low brightness reflectors that create a “silent” ceiling effect and mudded-in trimless bevel apertures, both which can provide a higher level of aesthetics and drama by placing the emphasis on what is being illuminated while making the downlights virtually disappear from the field of view. Look for other special value added features such as an optional lumen depreciation indicator that can trigger maintenance when the light engine depreciates past 70% of its initial lumens.

Another important consideration is the completeness and consistent appearance/performance throughout a line. For example, having all aperture sizes and a wide range of lumen packages available in new construction, remodeling, retrofit or surface cylinder housings ensures that you can solve for any installation condition. The availability of downlight, wallwash & adjustables, different beam spreads and a wide range of CCTs, CRIs, warm dimming, tunable white and tunable spectrum light engines throughout the full range of housing types and sizes ensures that you can solve for any functional and aesthetic requirements.

And finally, an emerging consideration new to the lighting industry is giving the option to your customers to specify downlights, and other luminaires, with embedded data collection and communications capability. Even if they don’t need this capability today, at some point in time it is likely that they will want to utilize their lighting system as a gateway to the Internet of Things to collect data and enable cloud-based functionality and analytics such as asset management, security, space utilization, wayfinding or occupant/customer engagement. The nominal cost to add Bluetooth or Visual Light Communication(VLC) into a luminaire can future proof their investment in a new lighting system, much like having a smart phone in the early days provided a platform for the plethora of applications that rapidly emerged. It is an exciting time for downlighting and well worth the distributor’s inside and outside sales staff’s time to become familiar with the breadth/consistency and specific features available in different manufacturers’ products so they know the easiest lines to work with and the best opportunities to add value beyond just filling a hole in the ceiling with the least expensive product, both to improve their own profit margins and the quality of lighting on the discretionary projects they control.

DiLouie: What impact is the proliferation of LED products having on electrical distribution business practices in general?

Roos: The wide range of available downlights, most with LED integrated directly into the luminaire, the rapid pace of change and the variety of color temperatures, CRIs and dimming protocols has certainly made it difficult for distributors to keep downlights in their inventory. And the lack of standardization, features, designs and performance of different manufacturer’s products of course makes it challenging to know which manufacturers’ products to use on various projects.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about LED downlights, what would it be?

Roos: Anyone can specify an LED downlight to dump light into a space. Not anyone can specify LED downlighting that truly optimizes the appearance and functionality of a space. With current technology, we can create nuanced and stunning aesthetic executions and positively impact productivity, health and wellbeing… all with low lifecycle costs in terms of both energy and maintenance. Having well-trained lighting specialists on your team that can select and thoughtfully apply the best LED downlighting for each application will separate you from your competition and earn you more business.

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2018 Lumen Awards Call for Entries

IESNYC recently put out a call for entries for next year’s Lumen Awards program. The deadline is January 29, 2018.

The Lumen Awards were established in 1968 by the New York City Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNYC) and developed to publicly recognize excellence, professionalism, ingenuity and originality in lighting design with the following distinct award categories: Award of Excellence, Award of Merit, and Citation.

IESNYC recently put out a call for entries for next year’s awards program. The deadline is January 29, 2018.

Click here for requirements and to submit a project.

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Creative Destruction in Lighting

At the 2017 Strategies in Light conference, Robert F. Karlicek, Jr. spoke about creative destruction in the lighting industry brought on by LED technology and the Internet of things (IoT). After catching his fascinating presentation, I interviewed him for a story for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Click here for an excerpt and link where you can read the article.

At the 2017 Strategies in Light conference, Robert F. Karlicek, Jr., spoke about creative destruction in the lighting industry brought on by LED technology and the Internet of things (IoT). Karlicek is a professor and director for the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.
 After catching his fascinating presentation, I interviewed him for a story for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Excerpt below:

In 1942, economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “creative destruction” to describe the impact of innovation. In the lighting industry, LED technology and integration of IoT services are disrupting traditional lighting and legacy business structures, supply chains and distribution channels.


For the majority of the market, the primary focus is energy efficiency and performance. The high efficiency and longevity of LED products makes them appealing for both new and existing construction. This is destructive to traditional lighting manufacturing and distribution. 


In the specification-grade segment, innovation focuses on adding value—new form factors, features, color tuning, dimming, data production, IoT integration and visual light communication. As color tuning and IoT concepts continue to enter the market, Karlicek believes this segment will grow.


Click here to read more.

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Randy Burkett Lighting Design Celebrates 30 Years of Professional Practice

Randy Burkett Lighting Design recently announced it is beginning its 30th year of professional practice.

Randy Burkett Lighting Design recently announced it is beginning its 30th year of professional practice. The company marked the occasion with the launch of a new branding initiative, including a major upgrade to its website.

Congratulations, Randy!

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Product Monday: Connected Lighting by Focal Point

Focal Point recently launched an offering of connected luminaires with Connected Solutions: a program that enables dozens of luminaires to interface with industry-leading control solutions. These smart luminaires integrate with building lighting management systems through wired and wireless networks allowing occupants to control lighting for maximum comfort and energy efficiency.

Focal Point recently launched an offering of connected luminaires with Connected Solutions: a program that enables dozens of luminaires to interface with industry-leading control solutions. These smart luminaires integrate with building lighting management systems through wired and wireless networks allowing occupants to control lighting for maximum comfort and energy efficiency.

The intelligent luminaires go beyond controlled illumination and support strategies such as daylight harvesting, occupancy sensing, HVAC system control, and individual control in order to save energy, reduce costs, and improve tenant well-being. Focal Point has partnered with several leading sensor, driver, and component manufacturers: Acuity nLight, Enlighted, Legrand Wattstopper, Lutron, and Osram to achieve smart communication in a variety of luminaires.

Click here to learn more.

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ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING Moves to Digital Format, Editor Steps Down

Big changes at my alma mater, ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING. Editor Elizabeth Donoff recently announced that the magazine will move to a digital-only format starting in 2018. And today is Donoff’s last day with the magazine as editor in chief.

Big changes at my alma mater, ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING. Editor Elizabeth Donoff recently announced that the magazine will move to a digital-only format starting in 2018. And today is Donoff’s last day with the magazine as editor in chief.

I served as AL’s editor and publisher from 1995 to 2001, following in the footsteps of Wanda Jankowski and Charles Linn, who started the magazine. Along with them and Christina Trauthwein, Emilie Sommerhoff, and Elizabeth Donoff, I was proud to support the lighting industry in this important role. I wish my colleague Donoff, who did an admirable job as editor, well in her future travels.

Publications like ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING are more important than ever today as the lighting industry navigates an era of turbulent change. But the publishing industry is undergoing its own change. As Donoff explained:

The print-to-digital transformation is something that all media brands, no matter the subject matter or audience, have had to face over the past decade. I had hoped we would be able to maintain our full portfolio longer, but business conditions for both publishing and lighting point in a different direction.

Donoff also announced she was stepping down as editor in chief:

Additionally, Dec. 8 will be my last day as editor-in-chief, although I will help guide AL through its next chapter in an editor-at-large capacity.

I hope ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING thrives in its new digital-only format. While my go-to magazine these days is LD+A due to its fantastic columnists, the industry needs more journalism not less these days, and ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING is one of its leading voices.

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Lighting for Learning

In 2016, education put-in-place construction spending reached $88.7 billion, making it the largest building market. This exciting lighting market is changing as teaching methods evolve toward greater interaction, flexibility, and technological integration. In this article, I talked to manufacturers about how school lighting is changing.

Below is my contribution to the November 2017 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Reprinted with permission.

Image courtesy of Hubbell Lighting.

In 2016, education put-in-place construction spending reached $88.7 billion, making it the largest building market, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

“This is an exciting time for the K-12 lighting market,” said Trish Foster, LC, LEED-Green Associate, Director, Education Market Development, Acuity Brands. “From a renovation standpoint, this means older, dated schools are looking not only for more-efficient solutions but also solutions that can have a positive impact on the learning environment.”

The modern classroom is changing to accommodate new teaching methods and technologies. Classrooms are no longer static environments. They are incorporating a range of technologies, from mobile devices and computers to interactive whiteboards and modular furniture. They are becoming more collaborative spaces in which teachers and students interact and exchange ideas in nontraditional ways. If activities and spaces are flexible, the lighting must be flexible as well.

“Video displays, whiteboards on multiple walls, tablets for all students, Wi-Fi in every classroom are some of the things we see in new classrooms,” said Terry Clark, Founder, Finelite. “Since each of these needs a different type of light at different times in different intensities, new lighting systems are needed.”

He described the K-12 education market as “underserved.”

“More attention is given to selecting flooring than the best way to light a classroom,” Clark said. “As a result, too often, lighting has been bought on a lowest first-cost basis. When lowest first cost is the focus, it is difficult for a distributor to add value and make a profit on the project. That is about to change.”

Image courtesy of Finelite.

Lighting change
From LED technology we can gain high energy efficiency and optical control, flexibility with connected controls, ability to adjust color appearance and other capabilities. The latest energy codes encourage LED adoption while requiring a full range of control strategies. The Illuminating Engineering Society’s RP3 document recognizes evolving best practices. And building recognition standards and programs such as the Collaborative for High-Performance Schools (CHPS) promote use of these best practices.

The majority of energy codes require manual control, occupancy/vacancy sensing, and daylight-responsive controls in classrooms. The sensor must automatically turn the lights OFF within 30 minutes of the space being vacated. If the sensor automatically turns the lights ON, it must do so to 50 percent or less of lighting power (bilevel switching). One or more manual switches must be installed at the entrance allowing control of all general lighting; additional switches may be installed as needed. Daylight-responsive controls must be installed where daylight is present and respond via bilevel switching, step dimming, or continuous dimming.

A classroom lighting solution that maximizes CHPS points is energy code-compliant, features daylight and indirect/direct electric lighting, and allows teachers to control the general and separate whiteboard (if present) lighting. The general lighting is controlled in two modes: General (10-30 footcandles in the student zone) or AV (maximum 7 footcandles on the screen). The teacher may also manually override the occupancy sensor time delay during written tests. If daylight-responsive controls are used, the light sensor takes precedence over manual dimming for the upper light level limit.

“The ease of dimming LEDs is a huge advantage,” said Charles Knuffke, Wattstopper Systems VP and Evangelist, Legrand. “Additionally, there is an opportunity to move to shorter time delays when outside normal hours, such as the summer period, since there’s no reduction of product life.”

He added that controls aren’t just for new buildings anymore. “Many classrooms still have no automatic controls,” he pointed out. “These spaces should look at either wireless or simple to install controls that can be retrofitted in easily.”

Knuffke warned that while controls can add utility and energy savings, distributors should favor products that are easy to use and recommend training teachers about how the controls work.

Finelite responded to a DOE RFP to build a lighting and control system that would serve the classroom of the future. The system includes highly efficient tunable-white LED lighting, automatic controls, and a custom teacher interface promoting easy use of teacher controls. Image courtesy of Finelite.

Color control
One of the industry’s latest major product trends is tunable-white lighting, which offers a choice of correlated color temperatures (CCTs) typically from visually warm (low CCT) to visually cool (high CCT). In a classroom, this is typically achieved using a luminaire housing separately controllable warm- and cool-white LED arrays, with the desired CCT achieved via relative dimming between these two primaries.

“The ability to tune the color temperature of the light is certainly one of the most significant advances,” Foster said. “A class with intensive laboratory-style learning may benefit from a different color temperature than a class focusing more on reading or independent studies. With advancements in LED technology and easy-to-use control platforms, every classroom can now benefit from tunable-white lighting.”

She pointed to research suggesting changing CCT based on classroom activity can affect mood, behavior, and concentration. In one study, a fifth-grade classroom in Carrollton, Texas installed tunable-white lighting at the start of the 2016 school year and saw an improvement over the previous year’s scores in the annual state examination.

“The kiddos embrace it,” Foster added. “They remind the teacher to change the lighting when an activity changes. They also learn about the impact of lighting on the space.”

Clark believes efficient, dimmable, and tunable-white LED lighting will serve as an integral part of the classroom of the future. In 2014, Finelite responded to a Department of Energy (DOE) request for proposal to create a robust classroom lighting solution would deliver exceptional lighting quality for very low energy levels. The company built the luminaires, integrated controls, and mocked up a classroom for testing.

Capabilities include controls specifically designed for teachers to control CCT, dimmable sources, centralized building control, energy-code compliant control, plug-and-play installation, and a single source for pricing, shipping, and warranty. All while delivering a substantially lower life-cycle cost.

“The new system goes sufficiently far beyond what is presented in CHPS that the section will need to be substantially updated and the points assigned to better lighting increased significantly,” Clark added. “A new lighting approach is needed for every classroom, and it must be applied across the board—not reserved for only the most affluent school districts.”

Tunable-white lighting offers the ability to change CCT according to classroom activity, such as test taking, calming, and more. Image courtesy of Acuity Brands.

Selling school lighting
Foster advised distributors to think outside the traditional way of selling lighting products. “It is not about the total solution, integrating luminaires and controls,” she said. “Simple energy savings and payback is still important, but the conversation is now expanding into an emotional connection where student performance and optimizing the learning environment is key.”

She added distributors should expand the reach of the conversation to stakeholders who were perhaps not engaged in the past. “It’s now a full circle between facility managers, principals, teachers, and the distributor,” she said.

Knuffke sees distributors in the perfect place to sell lighting to both new and existing construction projects. “Nothing beats having a close relationship with the school facility personnel in the areas they cover, having the ability to educate on new technologies and product innovations, and understanding the local electrical and energy codes,” he said. “Keep educating yourself—distributors that do have a competitive advantage.”

Clark said classroom lighting is a hot market ripe for good selling and upselling opportunities. “Ask great questions,” he advised. “If they are asked to price a retrofit, ask why they are not taking the opportunity to upgrade to a new system. Do not assume the only issue is first purchase price. Strive to add value to the project. No other areas of school design and construction has undergone as much change as the way we should light classrooms. You will bring value to your customers by helping make them aware of this. Bringing increased value to your customers is what you need to continue to succeed in the years to come.”

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Architecture Billings Bounce Back

After a stand-alone month of contracting demand for design services, there was a modest uptick in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for October.

After a stand-alone month of contracting demand for design services, there was a modest uptick in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for October. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the October ABI score was 51.7, up from a score of 49.1 in the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up from a reading of 59.0 the previous month, while the new design contracts index eased slightly from 52.9 to 52.8.

“As we enter the fourth quarter, there is enough design activity occurring that construction conditions should remain healthy moving through 2018,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Extended strength in inquiries and new design contracts, along with balanced growth across the major building sectors signals further gains throughout the construction industry.”

Key October ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: Northeast (54.0), South (50.8), West (49.8), Midwest (49.0)
• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (51.2), mixed practice (50.7), multi-family residential (50.7), institutional (50.7)
• Project inquiries index: 60.2
• Design contracts index: 52.8

(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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DOE’s Jim Brodrick on Sky Glow and Blue Light

In this republication of a recent Postings, SSL Program Manager Jim Brodrick revists last year’s AMA community guidance on streetlighting and sets the record straight on sky glow and blue light.

Republication of Postings from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solid-State Lighting Program

by Jim Brodrick, SSL Program Manager, U.S. Department of Energy

About a year ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued community guidance on street lighting. Although the initial commotion from that has calmed somewhat, a continuing succession of news stories generated by the AMA guidance has kept the topic of LED street lighting and its potential effects on health and the environment — including the night sky — in the public’s mind. As discussion of these issues has spread, so have many misperceptions and mischaracterizations of the technical information, with the difference between what has and has not been scientifically established often blurred. So DOE has produced a variety of information resources to better clarify the facts as we currently know them.

For example, to help clarify the science underlying street lighting’s environmental effects, DOE conducted a study that examined the expected contributions to sky glow from typical U.S. conversions of high-pressure sodium (HPS) street lighting to LED. Among the key findings was that all of the LED product conversions show reduced sky glow relative to an HPS baseline when the results are expressed as unweighted radiant power, for both near and distant observers. When the results are scotopically weighted, some LED products reduce sky glow for near observers, while others increase it. For distant observers, the elimination of uplight that occurs in typical conversions to LED virtually eliminates sky glow from the street lighting system. And CCT was found to be an unreliable predictor of sky glow impacts.

Recently, DOE hosted two webinars on the sky glow study. Conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Bruce Kinzey and Tess Perrin, they not only covered the impact of LED street lighting on sky glow, but also delved into the modeling effort underlying the study, as well as the influence of individual variables. If you were unable to attend, the webinar files are now available for download.

In addition to the sky glow study, a new DOE-funded research project conducted by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University will investigate the health impacts of outdoor lighting by providing key experimental data on the effects of roadway lighting on drivers, pedestrians, and residences that experience light trespass. Through a highly controlled experimental test plan aimed at identifying threshold effects for different CCTs, the project will provide insight into the conversion of outdoor lighting systems to SSL and will allow for science-based, informed decision-making.

DOE is also preparing an operational sky glow tool intended for use by street lighting designers and others to conduct ballpark comparisons of the relative sky glow impacts of their design decisions. And we’ve expanded our helpful online resources on the topic, which now include updated tables on selected blue-light characteristics of various outdoor lighting sources at equivalent lumen output. The tables were updated in June from earlier versions, to increase the number of LED samples on which the corresponding data ranges are based. Data for each source include a measured CCT, the calculated percentage of radiant power contained in “blue wavelengths” (as defined by an astronomical resource based on ability to affect sky glow, corresponding to wavelengths between 405 and 530 nm), and the corresponding scotopic and melanopic multipliers that are shown relative to an HPS baseline, due to that source’s predominance in the existing outdoor lighting market.

We’ve also included a link to a position statement recently issued by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) that offers additional valuable, science-based information on the human and environmental effects of LED street lighting. The IES position statement disagrees with some aspects of the policy statement on outdoor lighting that was issued last year by the AMA. AMA Policy H-135.927 “encourages minimizing and controlling blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare” and “encourages the use of 3000K or lower lighting for outdoor installations such as roadways.” IES Position Statement PS-09-17 points out, among other things, that CCT “is inadequate for the purpose of evaluating possible health outcomes” and that the AMA recommendations “target only one component of light exposure (spectral composition) of what are well known and established multi-variable inputs to light dosing that affect sleep disruption, including the quantity of light at the retina of the eye and the duration of exposure to that light.” The IES statement notes that increased melanopic content is “a more widely accepted input to the circadian system associated with higher risk for sleep disruption and associated health concerns,” and that “LED light sources can vary widely in their melanopic content for any given CCT.”

In addition, DOE is playing an active role on the recently formed IES Sky Glow Calculations Committee, supporting the position of Chair. The purpose of the committee is to assemble guidance and recommendations regarding methodologies for estimating sky glow from a range of anthropogenic sources of light, corresponding primarily to those falling under IES purview. Currently, no such IES guidance exists.

We continue to learn more and more about the unintended consequences of lighting the nighttime environment, but much more research is needed. So stay tuned.

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Architects to Congress: “You’re Making a Terrible Mistake”

The AIA has announced it will lobby against inequities in the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which eliminates the Historic Tax Credit and excludes architects and other small business service professions from lower tax rates. AIA’s president said if this legislation passes, Congress will be making a “terrible mistake.”

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) will lobby aggressively in coming days against significant inequities in both the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, just as the legislation heads into conference.

The House legislation abolishes the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), vital to the revitalization of America’s city centers and widely hailed as an economic engine since the Reagan Administration put them into place more than three decades ago.

The Senate bill eliminates the current 10 percent credit for pre-1936 structures, and significantly dilutes the current 20 percent credit for certified historic structures by spreading it over a five-year period.

The Senate’s tax reform bill allows small businesses that are organized as “pass through” companies (i.e. partnerships, sole proprietorships and S-Corporations) to reduce income through a 23 percent deduction. But, like the House-passed bill, the Senate bill totally excludes certain professional services companies – including all but the smallest architecture firms – from tax relief.

“By weakening the Historic Tax Credits, Congress and the Administration will hurt historic rehabilitation projects all across the country – something to which architects have been committed for decades,” said AIA 2017 President Thomas Vonier, FAIA. “Since 1976, the HTCs have generated some $132 billion in private investment, involving nearly 43,000 projects. They are fundamental to maintaining America’s architectural heritage.

“Unfortunately, both bills for some reason continue to exclude architects and other small business service professions by name from lower tax rates. There’s no public policy reason to do this. Design and construction firms do much more than provide a service; they produce a major component of the nation’s gross domestic product and are a major catalyst for job growth.

“Our members across the country are already mobilized to make sure their Congressional delegations know these views. In the coming days, we will spare no effort to make sure members of the conference committee know the views of the AIA’s more than 90,000 members on the inequities in both pieces of legislation.

“We say this again: tax reforms must achieve three basic goals to ensure the vitality of small business and the health, safety and welfare of our communities:

· Preserve tax policies that support and strengthen small businesses.

· Support innovative, economically vibrant, sustainable and resilient buildings and communities.

· Ensure fairness.

“So far, this legislation still falls well short of these goals. If passed, Congress would be making a terrible mistake.”

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