Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Make 179D Tax Deduction Permanent

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress that would make permanent a key energy efficiency tax incentive for owners and designers of energy efficient buildings while expanding its benefits to designers of hospitals, schools, tribal community facilities and other non-profits.

H.R. 3507, introduced by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), also modifies Section 179D of the tax code – the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction – to make small to mid-sized architect firms organized as subchapter S corporations eligible for the deduction.

Section 179D allowed qualifying building owners and businesses to receive an up to $1.80 per square foot tax deduction for their energy-efficient buildings placed into service during all open tax years. It was originally passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and had been extended several times until it last expired at the end of 2016.

On July 27, 2017, the bill was referred to the Ways and Means Committee. You can follow its progress here.

Product Monday: Self-Testing Emergency LED Driver by IOTA

IOTA’s ILB-CP10-HE-SD is a UL-Listed self-testing emergency LED driver for field and factory installations. IOTA’s ILB-CP10-HE-SD Emergency LED Driver combines patented Constant Power illumination with automatic self-testing technology for optimal Life-Safety egress performance. The ILB-CP10-HE-SD provides automatic monthly and annual testing of the system battery and load performance to help ensure proper operation. If system faults are detected, errors are communicated to facility managers and inspectors via a red flashing indicator, allowing for issues to be addressed before an emergency lighting scenario occurs.

During a power loss, the constant power design of the ILB-CP10-HE-SD delivers 10W of non-diminishing power to the fixture, resulting in no degradation of emergency illumination for the required 90-minute runtime. Additionally, the ILB-CP10-HE-SD features a high-efficiency micro-processor design for CEC energy compliance, 10-60vdc Class 2 driver output compatibility, and six available mounting configurations to meet individual fixture requirements.

Click here to learn more.

IES Announces 2017 Illumination Award of Merit Winners

The Illuminating Engineering Society recently published a list of the 2017 Illumination Awards of Merit and International Awards.

See the list of Merit Awards here.

See the list of International Awards here.

In the fall, IES will announce the final winners.

Moderating Economic Growth Results in Downgraded Construction Forecast for 2017 and 2018

The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast projects annual growth in the 3.5% to 4% range for the remainder of 2017 as well as for 2018, with a slower growing commercial/industrial market, and an institutional sector facing several challenges. While some slowdown in the commercial sector was anticipated for 2017 and 2018, it was expected to be offset by acceleration in the institutional sector. However, year-to-date growth in spending for institutional buildings is at only 3%, well below expectations when the year began.

The AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is conducted twice a year with the leading nonresidential construction forecasters in the United States including, Dodge Data & Analytics, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS Markit, Moody’s Economy.com, ConstructConnect, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI. The purpose of the Consensus Construction Forecast Panel is to project business conditions in the construction industry over the coming 18 to 24 months. The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel has been conducted for 18 years.

“Despite billings at architecture firms performing quite well this year, the larger construction industry is facing a range of issues,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The somewhat weaker outlook is driven by several factors, some dealing with the broader U.S. economy, some dealing with general construction industry fundamentals, and some dealing with weakness in specific construction sectors.”

Click here for an in-depth look at the new forecast.

LIGHTFAIR Issues Call for Speakers

LIGHTFAIR has issued a call for speakers for 2018. The submissions process launched July 11 and closes August 11 (they sent out the announcement July 26).

Click here to submit a proposal.

How Distributors Can Up Their Lighting Game

tED Magazine recently published two online articles about how electrical distributors can up their lighting game in a competitive marketplace. Namely, through partnerships, relationships and adding value throughout the procurement process, from “show don’t tell” product introductions to negotiating the best price to ensuring good service.

Read part 1 here.

Read part 2 here.

Product Monday: Sling by Hubbell Outdoor

Sling by Hubbell Outdoor Lighting is a slender, versatile and energy-efficient small wall and flood luminaire available in four lumen outputs and two sizes. Suitable applications include building entrances, perimeter lighting for schools, apartment buildings and commercial applications.

The luminaire ranges from 21W to 80W with output up to 8,000 lumens and efficacy up to 110+ lumens/W, with a choice of 3000K, 4000K or 5000K CCT. The decorative die-cast aluminum housing is available in five standard colors. Four ½” threaded conduit hubs for surface conduit. A comfort lens is available as an option or accessory providing glare control and enhanced uniformity. IP65 rated and certified to UL 1598 for use in wet locations up to 40C ambient. Voltages 120-277V, 347V and 480V.

Click here to learn more.

LED Upgrade Options for HID Luminaires

Below is my contribution to the June issue of tED Magazine on the topic of LED upgrade options for HID luminaires. Reprinted with permission.

As a popular light source for industrial, retail, public space, parking garage and outdoor area and roadway applications, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps represent an enormous installed lighting base.

LED technology has progressed to offer energy-saving, long-life alternatives for virtually every application, including those traditionally served by HID luminaires. The impact on HID lamp demand is suggested through the lens of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association’s (NEMA) HID Lamp Index, which has shown a steady decline.

In recent years, manufacturers have begun developing retrofit options targeting existing HID luminaires. LED replacement lamps enable a potentially lower-cost option for switching to LED, with up to 50 percent energy cost savings. Other advantages include instant-ON operation, improved lumen maintenance, universal operating position, good color quality and long life. LED retrofit kits package the lamp with other components for a repeatable solution that effectively becomes a new luminaire.

The strong potential of these products has led to recognition within the DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC) Qualified Products List used by many utility rebate programs to qualify products. The number of utilities offering rebates promoting these lamps jumped from 10 in 2016 to nearly 120 in 2017, according to BriteSwitch, with an average rebate of $110 per lamp.

As a result, LED replacement lamps and retrofit kits offer viable upgrade options, though careful product selection and application is necessary to yield desired results.

Options

Lamp upgrade options for existing HID luminaires include ballast- and line-driven LED replacement lamps.

Overall, wattages range from 30W up to 400W for replacement of 50W up to 1000W HID lamps, with average lamp efficacy around 110 lumens/W. In terms of color quality, 2000K to 5000K correlated color temperatures (CCT) are available offering very warm to very cool shades of white light, and with color rendering index ratings typically in the low 80s. The majority of products offer service life of 50,000 hours at L70 lumen maintenance. And most carry a warranty between five and 10 years.

A very common upgrade is 150W and 200W LED lamps rated at 17,000 to 21,000 lumens replacing 400W metal halide lamps.

Ballast-driven lamps. These plug-and-play lamps screw into the existing socket and operate on the existing ballast and wiring. No modifications are required to the luminaire, making this option relatively quick and low-cost. Light output varies but ranges from about 2,000 to 20,000 lumens.

However, these lamps utilize the existing ballast, which presents an eventual point of failure an additional 40-60W of load. In some cases, the LED lamp must be properly matched to the type of ballast (metal halide, high-pressure sodium, etc.).

Line-driven lamps. These lamps bypass the existing ballast and operate on line voltage (120-277V), eliminating the ballast and its associated energy and maintenance costs. Some lamps qualify for listing by DLC. Light output varies but ranges from about 1,500 to 15,000 lumens.

However, this option is typically more expensive in terms of labor than ballast-driven lamps, as a qualified electrician must perform the necessary electrical modifications to bring line voltage to the sockets.

Retrofit kits.
A retrofit kit modifies the existing luminaire in a way that will no longer accept HID lamps. This satisfies the utility because it eliminates the possibility of “snapback” to less-efficient technology. It also may provide a marginal efficacy improvement over lamp replacement. Many are listed by DLC, qualifying them for certain utility rebate programs.

Often, installing a retrofit kit requires replacing the ballast with an LED driver. Secondary optics may be packaged with the kit.

“Both LED replacement lamps and LED retrofit kits are a quickly growing area right now,” said Joseph D. Engle, Product Manager, New Product Innovation, Hubbell Lighting. “There is a good offering of wattages, CRI and CCT. Some are DLC-listed. Most carry an industry-acceptable warranty between five and 10 years.”

Application

When applying LED replacement lamps and retrofit kits to HID luminaires, many factors must be considered, including light output, lighting quality, socket condition, temperature and other environmental conditions, UL listing, and controls.

Light output. The majority of LED HID replacement lamps feature a “corncob” design, approximating the light emission of an HID lamp. Directional PAR lamps are also available. These lamps and LED retrofit kits often feature a flat chip-on-board design.

Be sure to make lumen comparisons based on application light level needs, lumen depreciation rates and luminaire optical efficiency. If the lamp is directional, be sure to consider center beam candlepower (CBCP), which is the light intensity directly in front of the lamp. And always remember a rule of thumb for effective lighting upgrades is to save energy while maintaining or improving lighting quality.

“Make sure to maintain the overall light quality and output that the customer is used to,” said Alfred LaSpina, LED Product Group Marketing Manager, LEDVANCE.

Lighting quality. LED replacement lamps and retrofit kits should provide similar light distribution as the incumbent lamp while potentially improving color quality.

“If properly designed, the replacement does not compromise light distribution both in terms of center beam punch as well as off-axis consistency,” said Tom Quinn, Vice President of Sales, Lunera Lighting. “It is possible to review a polar plot that compares the light distribution of a fixture using a standard HID lamp versus an LED replacement lamp.”

Socket condition. Evaluate the condition of the luminaire and socket prior to committing to an LED option. “An ideal condition for replacing HID with LED would be a socket that is not aging,” LaSpina said. “Also whether the base is medium or mogul as HID LED replacement lamps tend to be heavier than their traditional counterparts, and the socket needs to take the weight of the new product. If the sockets are older, a replacement would be needed prior to installing the LED solution.”

Temperature. The lamp should be properly designed for the ambient heat conditions. “A properly designed LED lamp should be able to deliver adequate lumens to meet the needs of the application while maintain an LED package temperature that assures the LED chip will operate reliably over the stated 50,000-hour L70 life,” Quinn said. “A good LED replacement lamp manufacturer should be able to provide in situ test data showing the temperature of the LED chips remains below the chip manufacturer’s thermal specification when the lamp reaches a steady state operating temperature when deployed in a typical application.”

That being said, Engle warned that LED lamps may not be able to withstand the high ambient temperatures present in some HID lighting applications. “Be careful about the environment that these lamps and kits are used in,” he said. “The HID fixture was carefully designed to do a specific lighting job and survive a specific environmental condition. Always make sure that the LED lamp or retrofit kit does not compromise the lighting job and will work in the environment.”

Another aspect of temperature is LED lamps produce a fraction of the heat of HID lamps, which can be beneficial in conditioned spaces. “If the installation has people utilizing the space, cooling methods may be necessary to maintain a comfortable environment, which adds to a building’s energy costs,” LaSpina said. “This isn’t an issue with LEDs.”

UL. The LED replacement lamp should be Listed and approved for use in the given luminaire. “Depending on the replacement solution, an electrician may be required to bypass the existing ballast,” LaSpina said. “This would void the UL Listing of the luminaire, so it is important to choose an LED replacement that has a dual UL Listing—UL 1993 and 1598c—which would carry the listing that is required for retrofit.”

Control. The majority of LED lamps are not controllable. LED retrofit kits are typically packaged with standard drivers that feature 0-10V leads that can be connected to control systems. This makes a wide range of lighting control strategies available to luminaires that had limited options when fitted with HID lamps. These strategies can generate additional energy costs savings, extend life, increase flexibility and potentially produce data.

Final word

“Building owners have three choices for upgrading lighting infrastructure,” said Quinn. “One, do nothing. Two, do something. Three, do everything. Doing nothing is shortsighted as there are valuable operational savings that can come from an LED lighting upgrade. Doing everything is still expensive. Doing something is the obvious play. Converting an existing building to LED via a lamp upgrade or retrofit conversion is simple, safe and affordable. Expect payback to be inside of one year when converting from HID to LED.”

“The best advantages of LED replacement lamps and kits are the easy installation and the low cost,” Engle said. “The disadvantages are questionable reliability, questionable thermal performance and mismatch to the application. The best application for both of these products is a damp or dry location that will not see extreme temperatures or high dirt conditions. In these applications, the reliability and thermal performance issues are minimized.”

CSIL: U.S. Luminaire Market $12.9 Billion in 2016

CSIL recently published the 2017 edition of its report, The Lighting Fixtures Market in the United States.

Running about 200 pages, the report covers market size and trend, international trade, distribution channels and reference prices, market segmentation and product characteristics, financial key indicators, sales data, short profiles and market shares of the major local and international players.

Excerpt:

“In 2016, the US production of lighting fixtures amounted to USD 12.9 billion. In 2015, it overcame the pre-crisis level and in 2016 continued its positive trend (+11.6% on the previous year). More specifically, the production of residential lighting remained stable, ending the negative trend that characterized the previous years; while the production of professional luminaires kept on growing at high rates. On the other hand, international trade faced a setback as both imports and exports contracted by respectively 9% and 8%. The value of domestic market in 2016 is estimated to be USD 20.3 billion, with a 3% increase compared to 2015. Even if positive, the growth registered in 2016 is much lower than the rates characterizing the previous years. Such a slowdown can be explained partly by the contraction of international trade and partly because of a softness in market demand that began in the second half of 2016. Such a weakness in internal demand is expected to continue in 2017, for which CSIL estimates an even slower growth (+2%). The market is expected to pick up in 2018 (+3.5%) and further improve in 2019 and 2020 (+4% each). The LED-based segment reached 51.4% of the total market in 2016; it has been growing especially for the outdoor lighting applications, where today it accounts for around 70% (10 percentage points more than the year before). Overall, in 2016, the growth rate of LED fixtures consumption was 26%.”

Click here to learn more.

Willmorth Challenges Humancentric Lighting

Lumenique’s Kevin Willmorth recently published a blog post questioning the use of the term “humancentric lighting” and raising concerns about how it is being marketed and applied.

Without mincing words, his post begins:

I do not use, like, or support, the term “Human-Centric Lighting” or HCL, and the marketing of it. Nor am I convinced the bullish marketing of the term makes it any more attractive or legitimate. The term has been tagged onto so many crack-pot claims, unsupported promises, and misapplication of hand-selected, overly simplified misleading single-line extractions from legitimate studies, and anecdotal claims by unqualified “experts” – that it has become nothing more than an extension of the now discredited “Full Spectrum” marketing that has plagued lighting for decades.

The confusion of white light tuning for lighting color effect has now been bolted to human-centric lighting, as more and more marketers rush to stake a claim on this populist movement. I am weary of the numerous “studies” supporting claims, that are nothing more than simple biased surveys of lighting customers, with no effort to remove the Hawthorne Effect, or other bias, that I no longer believe any of them present any meaningful data worth wasting time considering.

He goes on to talk about abuses, what research is telling us now, and that our advancing understanding of the relationship between lighting and health may necessitate new expertise and possibly even a new profession.

Click here to check it out.