Month: January 2009

Eko Traffic Light May Help in the Fight Against Road Rage

Serbian designer Damjan Stankovic has introduced a practical idea for traffic lights: EKO, an integral visual countdown letting waiting drivers know when the signal will change from red to green….

ekoSerbian designer Damjan Stankovic has introduced a practical idea for traffic lights: EKO, an integral visual countdown letting waiting drivers know when the signal will change from red to green.

Check it out here.

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Economist: Proposed Infrastructure Investments Will Help Create or Support Nearly 2 Million Jobs by 2010

New proposed infrastructure and public building investments will create or support nearly 2 million jobs throughout the entire economy in part because of the economic slowdown and massive construction layoffs…

New proposed infrastructure and public building investments will create or support nearly 2 million jobs throughout the entire economy in part because of the economic slowdown and massive construction layoffs that have occurred, George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller argued during Congressional testimony on behalf of the Associated General Contractors of America.

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Professor Fuller noted that the current stimulus plan’s proposed infrastructure investments would create or support more than 1.85 million new jobs between now and the end of 2010. He said that would include over 620,000 construction jobs, 300,000 jobs in supplying industries and 930,000 jobs throughout the broader economy.

“The sharp decline in construction employment and activity we have seen over the past two years mean that the sector has plenty of capacity to quickly take on new projects,” Professor Fuller told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “Two years ago, these kinds of investments might have trickled out the door, but in today’s climate, they are going to flood out into the economy.”

The economist added that in addition to the statutory spending deadlines being considered, new infrastructure investments would flow quickly because an unusually high number of companies and workers are available to begin work immediately.

He noted, for example, that the construction industry has plenty of capacity to handle the range of infrastructure projects being considered in the stimulus legislation. He said the planned infrastructure funding would account for approximately 9% of current construction funding nationwide at a time when construction output is down 14%.

Professor Fuller also argued that at the current rate being considered, these new infrastructure investments could easily be handled by the construction sector.

“The sums are far less than the available capacity of the construction industries, especially since the Act would spread investment across many types of structures,” he said. “There is sufficient capacity to absorb the added demand.”

Read Professor Fuller’s testimony here (PDF).

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Fluorescent Emergency Ballasts

Last fall, TED Magazine published my column on fluorescent emergency ballasts, available here. A fluorescent emergency ballast is basically a ballast with a built-in battery that senses when power is…

Last fall, TED Magazine published my column on fluorescent emergency ballasts, available here.

A fluorescent emergency ballast is basically a ballast with a built-in battery that senses when power is cut to the unit, resulting in relays inside the ballast switching to battery power to operate the lamp(s) and produce code-compliant illumination during an emergency.

Corridor with all lamps ON. Image courtesy of Bodine.

Corridor with all lamps ON. Image courtesy of Bodine.

The approach has several advantages:

* The emergency lighting is “invisible”
* Because the ballast is concealed, a degree of tamper resistance is acquired
* Can be a fast and economical retrofit solution

Ideal applications:

* When retrofitting fluorescent lighting to be more energy-efficient
* Corridors, intersections, stairwells and other fluorescent lighting
* Large office buildings, schools and colleges, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, auditoriums, stadiums
* Growth application: Hi-bay spaces where MH fixtures are replaced with fluorescent to save energy

Corridor during power cut with emergency lighting in operation provided by a fluorescent emergency ballast. Image courtesy of Bodine.

Corridor during power cut with emergency lighting in operation provided by a fluorescent emergency ballast. Image courtesy of Bodine.

Characteristics (generally speaking, individual products may vary):

* Operate most single- and bi-pin linear lamps
* Operate most 2- and 4-pin CFLs
* Typically operates a single lamp in a fixture to provide 500-3,000 lumens of light output
* Compatible with most 1, 2-, 3- and 4-lamp electronic, standard, energy-saving and dimmable AC-power ballasts
* Compatible with energy-saving controls such as occupancy sensors and photosensors

Special features:

* Self-diagnostic and self-testing emergency ballasts
* Compatibility with low-mercury CFLs via AC output current
* Compact sizing for installation in small fixtures and spaces
* Parallel operation of two lamps
* Delay circuits to ensure compatibility with new ballast technology
* Suitability for special applications such as outdoor egress and damp locations

And what’s next: Emergency battery packs to drive LED lighting in emergency mode for 90 minutes to meet code.

This, and more, here.

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Designers Lighting Forum to Host LEDucation III on March 11, 2009

The Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY), with the support of the New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNY), is presenting a special program on LED technology…

The Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY), with the support of the New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNY), is presenting a special program on LED technology that features more than 70 manufacturers and a unique informational program designed for The Lighting Community.

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Only three years old, LEDucation already is a leading LED event and returns to New York City on Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue.

Attendees will see presentations by the Next Generation of Luminaires (NGL) Design Competition in partnership with DOE, IALD, IES and The Pacific Northwest Laboratory. The NGL reveals the results of a national competition among LED/Solid State Lighting manufacturers at LEDucation III.

Many of the selected products will be on display in a special product showcase area.

Two special LED seminars, accredited by AIA (HSW credits, certificates will be provided), will also be offered.

LEDucation III will be held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Avenue at 32nd street, across from Madison Square Garden in New York City on Wednesday, March 11, 2009.

Specifically, the LEDucation III program features:

Continuous Exhibits and Tabletop viewing: 1:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Next Generation Luminaires presentation: 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM
LED Basics Seminar Series: 2:30 PM and 5:30 PM

There is no charge for students and DLF and IES members, but registration is required and students must present ID at the door. For everybody else, there is a modest $20 fee, with pre-registration required as there will be a higher fee for registering at the door.

Click here for more information and to register. You can also contact pegmeehan@verizon.net for more information.

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11% Reduction in Nonresidential Construction Predicted in 2009

As the overall economy continues to struggle, nonresidential construction spending is expected to decrease by 11% in 2009 in inflation-adjusted terms, according to the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast. This semi-annual…

As the overall economy continues to struggle, nonresidential construction spending is expected to decrease by 11% in 2009 in inflation-adjusted terms, according to the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast.

This semi-annual forecast is based on a survey of the nation’s top construction forecasters, including McGraw Hill Construction, Global Insight, Moody’s Economy.com, Reed Business Information and FMI. The purpose of the Forecast Panel is to project business conditions in the construction industry over the coming 12-18 months.

The outlook is fairly bleak across the entire nonresidential market, with no winners. Commercial projects, including office and retail projects, however, will see the most significant decreases in activity.

“As profits for businesses have fallen and the ability to get credit to finance projects has become far more difficult, construction plans have been put on hold or canceled outright in recent months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “This is not expected to turn around anytime soon and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.”

Click here to see the complete report from AIA.

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Builder Confidence Remains at Record Low in December

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes held at a record low in December as deepening economic turmoil, a deteriorating job market, and an ongoing flow of…

Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes held at a record low in December as deepening economic turmoil, a deteriorating job market, and an ongoing flow of foreclosed homes onto the market continued to negatively impact sales conditions.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) did not budge in December from November’s all-time low reading of 9, with two out of three component indexes losing further ground.

“The crisis continues,” said NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn, a home builder. “While builders are doing everything we can in the way of price and non-price incentives to move new homes off the books, buyers are afraid to move forward, and in any case there is almost no way to compete with the cut-rate product that is continually flooding the market from mounting foreclosures.”

“We have seen no improvement over the past month in terms of sales conditions for new homes,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said. “In fact, certain factors have gotten progressively worse, not the least of which is the job market, where massive layoffs are having a devastating effect on consumer confidence. At this point it will take definitive government action to stop the slide in home values and turn the tide of consumer sentiment.”

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2/3 of Construction Companies Planning Layoffs

An estimated two-thirds of the nation’s nonresidential construction companies are planning to cut their payrolls, according to new employment and business forecast figures released by the Associated General Contractors of…

An estimated two-thirds of the nation’s nonresidential construction companies are planning to cut their payrolls, according to new employment and business forecast figures released by the Associated General Contractors of America. All told, those layoffs are forecast to result in a 30% decline in the number of people working on construction projects.

“Unless the business climate changes significantly and soon, the construction sector will continue to experience the kind of devastating job losses and crippling declines in business activity that will undermine efforts to end the recession,” Stephen Sandherr, the association’s CEO said.

The forecast results, which are based on a representative survey conducted by the construction association late in 2008, found no relief in sight for construction companies that already have been among the hardest hit by the economic slowdown. Many construction companies experienced significant slowdowns beginning late last year, resulting in a 10% decline in the number of construction workers since 2006, Sandherr pointed out.

According to the forecast figures, the association’s member companies have seen or are planning for declining activity in every type of construction market. Ninety-two percent of building contractors are expecting or experiencing declining activity.

The forecast did find, however, that planned investment in infrastructure projects as part of the stimulus package is likely to dramatically improve the employment and business outlook for the year. For example, 85% of nonresidential construction companies would either cancel layoffs or add new employees if states embarked on stimulus-funded infrastructure projects.

For survey results (PDF), click here.

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DOE Establishes ASHRAE 90.1-2004 as National Energy Standard

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, has been established by the Department of Energy as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes…

ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, has been established by the Department of Energy as the commercial building reference standard for state building energy codes starting in 2010.

By December 30, 2010, all states in the United States must certify that their building codes meet or exceed the requirements in ASHRAE/IESNA’s 2004 energy efficiency standard, under a 12/30/08 ruling. If they do not have a code in place at least as stringent as 90.1-2004, they must justify why they can’t comply.

Thirty-seven states complied with the last DOE ruling establishing ASHRAE 90.1-1999 as the national energy standard.

“The quantitative analysis of the energy consumption of buildings built to Standard 90.1-2004, as compared with buildings built to Standard 90.1-1999, indicates national source energy savings of approximately 13.9% of commercial building energy consumption. Site energy savings are estimated to be approximately 11.9%,” according to the ruling published in The Federal Register.

DOE noted that the newer version of the standard contained 13 positive impacts on energy efficiency, several of which are related to lighting:

*Complete replacement of interior lighting power density allowances.
*Revised exterior lighting power density allowances.
*Addition of occupancy sensor requirements for classrooms, meeting and lunch rooms.
*Lower retail sales lighting power allowance.
*New exit sign wattage requirement.

Nearly half of the states (24) currently have an energy code in place at least as stringent as ASHRAE 90.1-2004, meaning 13 states will likely catch up in 2010 and 13 will not comply for various reasons, such as “home rule” state constitutions.

In addition, ASHRAE is working on providing more stringent energy guidance in a proposed standard for high-performance buildings. Being developed in partnership with IESNA and the U.S. Green Building Council, Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, will provide minimum requirements for the design of high-performance new commercial buildings and major renovation projects, addressing energy efficiency, a building’s impact on the atmosphere, sustainable sites, water use efficiency, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

ASHRAE publishes a revised version of the standard every three years. The latest version is the 2007 version.

I will post a more detailed comparison of the 1999 and 2004 versions of ASHRAE 90.1 soon.

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Cree Announces Volume Availability of 2×2 LED General Lighting Fixture

Cree, Inc. has announced the volume availability of the LR24, a 24-inch square recessed LED general lighting fixture. The LR24 is intended for suspended-ceiling applications traditionally addressed by linear fluorescents,…

Cree, Inc. has announced the volume availability of the LR24, a 24-inch square recessed LED general lighting fixture. The LR24 is intended for suspended-ceiling applications traditionally addressed by linear fluorescents, also known as lay-ins or troffers.

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The LR24 is the newest addition to the Cree family of recessed LED fixtures and delivers uniform, high light levels required for offices, schools,hospitals and retail environments while consuming less energy than most linear fluorescent systems.

The LR24 features a CRI rating of 92 and is dimmable from 100-5% using standard protocols.

“With the addition of the LR24, we can light an entire office using Cree LED fixtures,” said Neal Hunter, Cree president of LED lighting.

He added: “The volume availability of the LR24 builds on Cree’s success to-date, as we’ve already installed more than 1,000 early-production LR24s in various national-account projects.”

With a 24-inch square form, the LR24 offers architects and designers a modern lighting aesthetic. The lens is recessed above the ceiling for glare reduction and a distinctive look.

“We have installed LR24s on one floor at the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. as part of our ongoing energy-efficiency program,” said Chris Jennings, U.S. Federal Reserve, plant manager. “The graphic designers in the department love the uniformity and the color rendering of the new lights. We are impressed with the amount of light delivered by the LR24, and we look forward to evaluating additional Cree LED lighting products in other applications within the Federal Reserve.”

According to Cree, the LR24 can deliver recommended light levels at only 0.5-0.75W/sq.ft.

Click here for more information about the LR24.

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USGBC Reaffirms Commitment to Developing Green Building Code

The U.S. Green Building Council recently reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Standard 189.1P, which will be America’s first National Standard developed to be used as a green building…

The U.S. Green Building Council recently reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Standard 189.1P, which will be America’s first National Standard developed to be used as a green building code when completed.

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Created specifically for adoption by states, localities, and other building code jurisdictions that are ready to require a minimum level of green building performance for all commercial buildings, Standard 189.1P is being developed as an ANSI standard under ASHRAE’s leadership, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council and IESNA.

Doubts about the future of Standard 189.1P were raised in late October by ASHRAE’s decision to reconstitute the volunteer committee responsible for the development of the green building code. While rebuilding the committee will mean delays, USGBC remains confident in the quality of the final result.

It’s an interesting (and ambitious) move to merge 90.1 and LEED to create a green building standard, which will likely see first use for public construction in the greener states and for commercial buildings in municipalities committed to green construction. Washington, DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles, for example, require most commercial buildings to reach LEED Silver, and in 2008, the State of California authored and adopted a statewide green building code. In terms of lighting, the latest draft of Standard 189.1 that I saw is aggressive and looked like a preview of what is likely to appear in ASHRAE 90.1-2010.

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