Author: Craig DiLouie

DLC’s Levin Nock on the New LUNA Technical Requirements for Outdoor Lighting

I recently had the opportunity to interview Levin Nock, PhD, Senior Technical Manager, DesignLights Consortium (DLC), for an article about the DLC’s new LUNA requirements I’m writing for the June issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Levin Nock, PhD, Senior Technical Manager, DesignLights Consortium (DLC), for an article about the DLC’s new LUNA requirements I’m writing for the June issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How prominent are outdoor luminaires in utility rebate programs, and what role does the DLC and the Qualified Products List play in these programs?

Nock: Outdoor luminaires comprise nearly half of all the products on the DLC Solid State Lighting Qualified Products List. According to BriteSwitch energy information, 90% of energy efficiency programs across most of the US and Canada offer rebates for DLC qualified outdoor lighting.

DiLouie: Generally, what is the purpose of LUNA Technical Requirements V1.0?

Nock: The DLC LUNA requirements are intended to mitigate negative impacts of lighting at night by establishing system performance specifications and best practices with the following goals:

1. Minimize lighting energy use. In addition to meeting the efficacy thresholds of the DLC’s SSL V5.1 Technical Requirements, LUNA qualified products must meet additional dimming, control, and shielding requirements to ensure efficient use of lighting energy. These thresholds will help efficiency programs meet or exceed their energy savings goals and end users reduce operational costs.

2. Minimize light pollution. The LUNA program introduces requirements for light distribution, correlated color temperature (CCT), and dimming controls that ensure less light is scattered into the atmosphere, resulting in reduction of light trespass and sky glow, and darker skies for stargazers, astronomers, and wildlife.

3. Provide appropriate visibility for people. The LUNA program incorporates all SSL V5.1 spectral quality requirements, BUG reporting requirements, and additional spectral power distribution and intensity distribution reporting requirements, enabling lighting installations to meet recommended practices and voluntary guidelines for dark-sky best practices.

DiLouie: Is it complementary to current DLC SSL outdoor lighting requirements, or will it be integrated?

Nock: LUNA Technical Requirements V1.0 complement existing DLC requirements for outdoor lighting, with additional requirements that are specific to enabling the responsible application of light at night. LUNA qualified products not only meet the existing DLC SSL V5.1 requirements for lighting quality, but also have attributes that help limit light pollution, sky glow, and light trespass.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of LUNA for owners, contractors, distributors, designers, manufacturers?

Nock: LUNA provides a clear way to address light pollution and light trespass while saving electricity and qualifying for energy efficiency rebates and incentives. The LUNA program qualifies warm white LED luminaires that will help meet dark sky policies and ordinances. These products can be used to meet the prescriptive application guidance in the Joint IDA-IES Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO). LUNA products can also be used to meet the light pollution and trespass requirements for LEED certification. And LUNA products of 2700K to 3000K CCT can be used to meet the light pollution and trespass requirements for 2021 WELL certification.

DiLouie: What does the DLC anticipate for participation by the end of 2022?

Nock: Considering that a third of all artificial outdoor light in the US is lost by unshielded luminaires – costing facility owners over $3 billion every year – and that light pollution consciousness as well as regulations are proliferating, we anticipate extensive participation by the end of 2022. Readers may find the actual count of products that meet LUNA requirements on the DLC QPL as they become qualified in mid-2022.

DiLouie: In recent years, the DLC broadened its interest in energy efficiency by addressing lighting quality issues with indoor lighting. What was the rationale for doing something similar for outdoor lighting?

Nock: The US National Park Service estimates that at the current rate of increasing light pollution, no dark skies will remain in the continental US by 2025. The DLC has played an important role in enabling the rapid conversion of outdoor lighting to energy-saving LED lighting. Due to a variety of factors including lack of proper application knowledge in the market, the unintended consequence of rapidly increasing light pollution has been identified as an issue. The DLC Technical Requirements have been updated to address lighting quality issues found in both indoor and now outdoor lighting, because we recognize the need to prevent more light pollution and the opportunity to resolve the existing issues. Specifically, the LUNA program enables selection of products that will limit light pollution and trespass.

DiLouie: What impact do you see LUNA having on rebate programs, the market, and the state of outdoor lighting? How do you see LUNA fitting into local ordinances and the IES Model Lighting Ordinance?

Nock: In terms of energy efficiency rebate programs, we expect LUNA qualified products to continue to receive rebates because they meet DLC SSL V5.1 requirements for energy efficiency. In terms of the market and the state of outdoor lighting, we hope that light pollution will decrease as LUNA qualified outdoor lighting products are installed following the IDA-IES Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, which essentially call for appropriate consideration of lighting needs for outdoor projects.

LUNA qualified products also enable specifiers to meet local ordinances related to light pollution and trespass using warm white light and meet the prescriptive application guidance in the IES Model Lighting Ordinance.

DiLouie: What impact do you see LUNA having on product development? What percentage of the market currently complies, and how and where will manufacturers need to stretch to comply?

Nock: In terms of product development and the shifting market, we expect to see:

1) more decorative roadway/area luminaires with less uplight, based on the LUNA uplight requirement of U2 or lower;
2) more luminaires with CCT of 2200 K to 2700 K at 105 lumens per watt or higher, based on LUNA spectral and efficacy requirements;
3) more public sharing of luminaire spectral data;
4) more listings of shielded products, due to LUNA shielding efficacy allowances;
5) more efforts to standardize outdoor chromaticity specifications for white and amber spectra; and
6) a broader selection of DLC-qualified bollards, due to the LUNA efficacy allowance.

In terms of compliance, most DLC qualified roadway and area luminaires already have an uplight rating of U0 or U1, and many have a family member available at 3000K CCT. The biggest stretch will be for optical limitations in decorative products and for bollards, even with the efficacy allowance for bollards. The biggest opportunity is likely to be newly qualified products at the lowest white light CCTs.

DiLouie: Controllability is required. What was the rationale for including it, and what are the benefits of providing it?

Nock: Controllability is the key to using light where it’s needed and when it’s needed. Controllability is also a key factor for advanced energy savings.

Whenever an outdoor luminaire is dimmed, by whatever means, sky glow is reduced during the dimmed times. This is true even for U0 luminaires because of reflections from the ground and other surfaces. Dimming can also mitigate light trespass and overlighting.

Also, considering that dark sky ordinances are proliferating rapidly throughout the world, installing a controllable product with a standardized control receptacle today reduces the risk of obsolescence tomorrow. While standardized control receptacles are not required in this version, the QPL will make it easier to find these products.

In terms of requirements for controllability, all LUNA qualified products are continuously dimmable to 20% or less of maximum light output. In addition, details about controllability capabilities and communication protocols are publicly available on the DLC QPL, to support easier selection of lighting products and NLC products that are likely to be compatible with one another.

DiLouie: What control scenarios do you see being enacted using the controllability capability required in LUNA?

Nock: To ensure that light is no brighter than necessary, high-end trim enables specifiers to meet design requirements without overlighting. To ensure that light is only used when it is useful, outdoor lighting can be dimmed down as far as appropriate, as frequently as appropriate. For example, when fewer cars and people are present later at night, lower light levels can be scheduled for street and roadway lighting, compared to evening and morning rush hours when more illumination is needed per ANSI/IES RP-8-21. Similarly, occupancy sensors for area lighting can dim the lights whenever an area is unoccupied.

Smart city projects sometimes invest in networked lighting controls (NLC) with various types of sensors plus centralized dashboards for remote diagnostics, scheduling and energy reporting. However, many LED-retrofit projects do not yet include NLC. New LED luminaires are likely to remain in the field for 15 to 20 years, so future upgrades are an important aspect of controllability and sustainability, to avoid premature replacement. A LUNA-qualified luminaire chosen with a standardized control receptacle and a digital D4i driver can be installed cost-effectively today with either a simple standalone photocontroller, or a standalone photocontroller with part-night-dimming and field-adjustable high-end trim. In the future, as value propositions mature, for instance with 5G buildout, each control receptacle can accept a new piece of digital hardware, to support NLC plus additional types of sensors.

DiLouie: What education and training do contractors, distributors, etc. need to properly implement LUNA-compliant solutions?

Nock: Appropriate project design begins with consideration of the IDA-IES Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting shown below:

Beyond that, design and application guidance is available from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). An extensive list of references is available in the LUNA Technical Requirements.

The DLC recommends that, when possible, a qualified lighting professional assist in designing and implementing a complete project that meets all of an owner’s project requirements, including minimizing light pollution.

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

Nock: With all the infrastructure and roadway lighting projects that will happen in the next few years, now is the time to ensure that lighting solutions minimize light pollution and support decarbonization goals. If practitioners and owners do not minimize light pollution and guard against premature replacement as primary design goals, then the opportunity will be lost for decades. With LUNA qualified products, decision makers can be confident of saving energy AND following best environmental practices for nighttime lighting.

DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this topic?

Nock: Lighting is no different than other human inventions and activities in that it does not occur within a vacuum. What, where, and how we illuminate our outdoor spaces has impacts – sometimes profound – on neighboring human communities, wildlife, the environment, and the ability to enjoy and study the night sky. LUNA supports a more holistic view of nighttime lighting that provides appropriate illumination for people, while mitigating light pollution and reining in billions of dollars in energy waste that contributes to the climate crisis.

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Lighting Predictions 2030

My contribution to the January 2022 of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR looks at BEYOND 2030, a publication by the Illuminating Engineering Society in which industry thought leaders imagine the state of lighting in 2030 and beyond, challenges our industry faces this decade, and where it should focus its energies.

My contribution to the January 2022 of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR looks at BEYOND 2030, a publication by the Illuminating Engineering Society in which industry thought leaders imagine the state of lighting in 2030 and beyond, challenges our industry faces this decade, and where it should focus its energies.

Media-driven environments, networked controls, DC power and healthy lighting are just a few topics covered, providing a palette of fascinating possibilities for the future of light. As an example of the predictions:

Mark Lien’s “Lighting Forecast by the Decades” is a snapshot piece packing many predictions. By 2030, he says, LED will have saturated the exterior lighting market. Energy standards will have been consolidated or eliminated, with only a minimum and a stretch standard offered. Government will shift from focusing on boosting energy efficiency to minimizing carbon. Renewable energy will be even more attractive. Augmented reality will enable a preview of how lighting will look and perform in a space.

By 2040, Lien adds, exterior lighting will center around a digital platform for a menu of technologies that includes light. Solar power for exterior lighting will be more efficient, while roadway lighting will adapt to self-driving vehicles. Glare will still be an issue, while lighting designed to optimize health will be widely adopted.

What do you think? Where is lighting headed during this decade?

Click here to check it out.

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National Building Stock Study Reveals Ongoing Lighting Upgrade Opportunity

Commercial buildings in the United States are trending larger and more commonly feature LED lighting and occupancy sensors. While traditional light sources have declined in use, they remain prevalent in the nation’s estimated 5.9 million buildings, spelling a significant continuing upgrade opportunity, particularly in older buildings that have not been upgraded.

Below is my contribution to the December 2021 issue of tED Magazine, offering another take on the new Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey recently published by the Department of Energy. Reprinted with permission.

Commercial buildings in the United States are trending larger and more commonly feature LED lighting and occupancy sensors. While traditional light sources have declined in use, they remain prevalent in the nation’s estimated 5.9 million buildings, spelling a significant continuing upgrade opportunity, particularly in older buildings that have not been upgraded.

These are just some of the conclusions drawn from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which has periodically profiled the national building stock since 1979 using a survey-based approach. Published in September 2021, the 2018 report provides estimates for commercial building characteristics such as region, activity, size, age, and equipment. It follows the 2012 report, which provides an historical benchmark.

In this article, we will dig into the data to produce salient findings in two key areas: commercial building characters and lighting and controls adoption.

Buildings

Between 2012 and 2018, the population of commercial buildings grew 6 percent to 5.9 million buildings, and total floorspace grew 11 percent to 97 billion sq.ft. During that time, 357,000 buildings and 7.5 billion sq.ft. were added to the national building stock. Since 1979, the amount of commercial floorspace has nearly doubled.

Other key findings:

  • By floorspace, the largest markets were office, mercantile, warehouse and storage, and education. The most common commercial building types were warehouse and storage, office, and service, representing 48 percent of buildings and 42 percent of floorspace. While common, service buildings constituted only 7 percent of floorspace.
  • The population of education, lodging, warehouse and storage, public assembly, worship, and service buildings increased. Other markets, such as office, healthcare, food sales/service, and mercantile decreased.
  • The largest population of commercial buildings and floorspace was in the South Census Region. The second was the Midwest, followed by the West (populated by buildings of the largest median size), and Northeast (smallest population of buildings, oldest in median years).
  • Newer commercial buildings tended to be larger than older buildings. In 2018, the median building size was 5,400 sq.ft., up from 5,000 sq.ft. in 2012. Seventy percent of buildings were 10,000 sq.ft. or smaller in 2018, down from about 75 percent in 2012.
  • The largest buildings were a small fraction of the building population but a third of floorspace. Buildings larger than 100,000 sq.ft. constituted only 2.4 percent of the building population but 34 percent of floorspace. In contrast, the smallest buildings—1,001 to 5,000 sq.ft.—represented nearly half of buildings but only 8 percent of floorspace.
  • The median year of construction for all U.S. commercial buildings was 1982, producing a median age of 36 years. Seventy-five percent of buildings were built on or before 2000, representing 71 percent of floorspace. Forty-six percent of all buildings, accounting for 41 percent of all floorspace, were built before 1980.
  • A total of 86 million people worked in U.S. commercial buildings. This translated to a median floorspace of 1,175 sq.ft. per worker, a 14 percent increase in space over 2012.

Lighting and controls

Compared to the 2012 survey, the 2018 CBECS shows a remarkable technological shift toward LED adoption at the expense of traditional lighting. It also reveals growing adoption of automatic lighting controls, notably occupancy sensors. Nonetheless, the continuing prevalence of traditional and uncontrolled lighting produces a snapshot of a continuing market opportunity to upgrade older lighting systems.

Key findings:

  • Adoption of LED lighting grew significantly between 2012 and 2018 in commercial buildings to become the second-most common light source. In 2018, LED lighting was used in 44 percent of commercial buildings and 64 percent of floorspace, up from 9 percent of buildings and 25 percent of floorspace in 2012. By 2018, LED was installed in 2.6 million buildings, more than five times more buildings than in 2012, and covered 62 billion sq.ft., more than two and a half times the floorspace. Looking at five major building types, adoption was highest in healthcare, mercantile, and office, as shown in Table 1.
  • Standard fluorescent remained dominant but was in decline. In 2018, standard fluorescent lighting was used in 68 percent of commercial buildings and 76 percent of total floorspace, a decline from 84 percent of buildings and 92 percent of floorspace in 2012.
  • Other traditional sources showed sharp declines in use. From 2012 to 2018, incandescent declined from 33 to 19 percent of buildings, compact fluorescent from 41 to 19 percent, halogen from 16 to 9 percent, and high-intensity discharge (HID) from 9 to 4 percent. In terms of floorspace, from 2012 to 2018, incandescent declined from 44 to 22 percent, compact fluorescent from 62 to 35 percent, halogen from 32 to 15 percent, and HID from 27 to 12 percent.

Table 1. Lighting equipment adoption in 2018 by major building type, expressed as a percentage of floorspace in that vertical market.

Warehouse
and
storage
Office Mercantile Education All health care
Incandescent 10% 21% 35% 17% 33%
Standard fluorescent 66% 79% 83% 83% 84%
Compact fluorescent 17% 44% 52% 31% 59%
High-intensity discharge (HID) 11% 10% 9% 14% 21%
Halogen 7% 13% 35% 12% 27%
LED 47% 74% 75% 63% 77%
  • Occupancy sensor adoption significantly increased. In 2018, occupancy sensors were installed in more than 44 billion sq.ft. in more than 1 million buildings, 26 percent more buildings than in 2012 and 24 percent more floorspace. In 2018, occupancy sensors controlled lighting in 17 percent of buildings but 46 percent of total floorspace, up from and 15 percent of buildings and 41 percent of floorspace in 2012.
  • Adoption of other lighting control equipment was a mixed bag. Daylight harvesting increased from 7 to 7.5 percent of floorspace, increasing from 6.1 to 7.2 billion sq.ft. in 138,000 buildings, but remained flat at about 7 percent of floorspace. Building automation systems for lighting increased from 14 to 17 percent of floorspace, increasing from 12 to 16.7 billion sq.ft. in 317,000 buildings. Light scheduling remained flat at about 35 percent of floorspace. Multilevel lighting and dimming declined from 17 to 15 percent of floorspace, which is somewhat surprising due to the inherent controllability of LED lighting and its utility. Demand-responsive lighting significantly declined from 5 to 2 percent of floorspace. Look at the major building types in Table 2, however, adoption is nonetheless substantial for many of these equipment types in terms of controlled floorspace.
  • Plug load control remained relatively rare. In 2018, for the first time CBECS included plug load control, which showed adoption in less than 1 percent of buildings and around 2 percent of floorspace. This is expected to increase due to this strategy being included in the latest generation of commercial building energy codes.

Table 2. Lighting controls adoption in 2018 by major building type, expressed as a percentage of floorspace in that vertical market.

Warehouse
and
storage
Office Mercantile Education Health care
Light scheduling 16% 46% 65% 35% 44%
Occupancy sensors 40% 62% 49% 57% 70%
Multi-level lighting or dimming 4% 21% 16% 15% 29%
Daylight harvesting 2% 15% 13% 6% 14%
Building automation system (BAS) for lighting 5% 22% 40% 24% 22%

While these adoption gains are impressive from an energy efficiency standpoint, inverting these numbers reveals a strong ongoing lighting upgrade opportunity, particularly in the lighting controls space.

Separately, CBECS estimated buildings and square footage that received a lighting upgrade as a renovation since 2000, around the birth of the LED revolution. Looking at buildings built since 2012, around when LED began achieving mass adoption in general lighting, 82 percent of buildings and 67 percent of floorspace have not received a lighting upgrade since 2000.

This number seems odd due to the significant adoption of LED, suggesting at least some form of upgrade has taken place. At a minimum, we can look to the continuing prevalence of traditional lighting, notably standard fluorescent still in the number one spot. If every standard fluorescent lamp were suitable for upgrade, this alone would represent lighting covering four out of five square feet in seven out of 10 buildings.

All of this leads to a simple conclusion that a substantial portion of the building stock remains untapped for LED and controls upgrades.

Check out CBECS

The 2018 CBECS is available for free online as XLS files at the Energy Information Administration’s website, offering insights into the building market that can be useful for business planning. How many warehouse and storage buildings are in the South? What is the average office floorspace per worker? In what building types is LED adoption greatest?

CBECS offers an estimate for these and many other questions here.

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Farewell Message by Craig DiLouie

It has been my privilege and honor to deliver lighting news and opinion for the past 20 years at LightNOW.

Hello, reader! Okay, this isn’t strictly a farewell, as I’ll still be contributing to LightNOW, but I have stepped down as its editor.

It has been my privilege and honor to deliver lighting news and opinion for the past 20 years at LightNOW, one of the first things I started doing after leaving ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING back in 2001. During that time, LightNOW chronicled major changes in the industry, notably a technological shift to LED lighting and advanced controls. It’s been a wild ride for a previously staid industry, and staying informed has never been more important.

Codes, standards, regulations, products, people, metrics, construction news, awards, opinion, how-to guidance, it’s all here at LightNOW, every day, archived. Since 2013, when we switched to WordPress, LightNOW posted more than 4,250 times, each item something useful for lighting practitioners.

As for me, again, I’ll remain a contributor to LightNOW while also continuing to support other industry stalwarts such as the Lighting Controls Association, NALMCO, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, tED Magazine, and other organizations, publications, and manufacturers. But I’m excited about Suelynn and David Shiller taking the editorial and publishing reins and guiding the site and newsletter to new heights with fresh insight and energy.

So thank you for visiting and reading LightNOW, and congratulations to Suelynn and David!

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Recommended Methods for Subjective Evaluation of Color Rendition

A new study funded by the Department of Energy and published in Lighting Research and Technology reviews the commonly used psychophysical experimental techniques for investigating color rendition, where human participants are asked to evaluate various subjective aspects of the color appearance of objects, such as color preference, naturalness, or vividness.

Color rendition describes the influence of light source spectrum on the color appearance of objects. The rendering of object colors in desirable ways has attracted much attention as LEDs have developed as a versatile and efficient lighting technology, with significant research effort to understand human perception and develop new metrics. These have helped manufacturers optimize LED lighting products, increasing both energy efficiency and appeal to drive adoption in workplaces and homes.

Spectrally tunable LED-based lighting is one large and growing segment of emerging products, which has also facilitated new experimental techniques. However, the increased interest and ease of experimentation has not necessarily translated into improved research quality, a more diverse range of experiments, more definitive findings, or increased use of efficient, high-quality LED products. Instead, the collective body of work has sometimes employed questionable methods that produce contradictory and, at times, overgeneralized results.

A new study funded by the Department of Energy and published in Lighting Research and Technology reviews the commonly used psychophysical experimental techniques for investigating color rendition, where human participants are asked to evaluate various subjective aspects of the color appearance of objects, such as color preference, naturalness, or vividness. The work was undertaken to encourage exceptional practices in the conceptualization, design, implementation, analysis, and reporting of such experiments. It is intended to accelerate research progress and the resulting improvements in lighting quality and energy efficiency.

The article synthesizes a large body of evidence on research methods, tailoring the solutions to the specific field using examples. Common pitfalls of existing color rendition research include a lack of clear hypotheses, failing to control for all lighting variables, insufficient adaptation, poor sampling of possible color rendition characteristics, and small sample sizes with insufficient statistical rigor. The study outlines a range of possible work to improve future methods and concludes with a list of recommended practices relevant to performing research on subjective evaluations of color rendition, which may be used as checklist by researchers, reviewers, and readers.

According to Dr. Yoshi Ohno, NIST Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, who was not involved in this study, there is still much room to improve the color quality of white LED sources for lighting preferences in different applications while ensuring the best use of energy. “Vision experiments are essential to make progress in research for this effort,” he says, “and this article by PNNL covers the whole range of important topics and recommendations for designing and conducting such vision experiments with subjects. It will be very useful for all researchers working in this area toward establishing good recommendations on color quality of LED sources for lighting.”

Download the full report.

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Telling a Story with Lighting Design

In this engaging video, Jonathan Hoyle and Lillian Knoerzer, Assoc. IALD of The Lighting Practice emphasize the importance of a story in the design process. They explore how lighting can reinforce the design narrative and enhance the user experience of the space.

In this engaging video, Jonathan Hoyle and Lillian Knoerzer, Assoc. IALD of The Lighting Practice emphasize the importance of a story in the design process. They explore how lighting can reinforce the design narrative and enhance the user experience of the space.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: NEC 2020 Impacts 0–10V Control Wiring

Per a change in the 2020 National Electrical Code effective January 1, 2022, 0–10V (Class 2) dimming wire insulation colors have changed to eliminate use of any reserved colors, notably gray. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) responded with an industry guideline adopting pink as a substitute.

Per a change in the 2020 National Electrical Code effective January 1, 2022, 0–10V (Class 2) dimming wire insulation colors have changed to eliminate use of any reserved colors, notably gray. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) responded with an industry guideline adopting pink as a substitute.

In this article written for the December 2021 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, I discuss the color change and then take a quick look at the cost-effectiveness of 0–10V versus digital dimming.

Click here to check it out.

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Product Monday: Direct/Indirect Luminaires by A-Light

A-Light’s ACL2ST and ALD2ST luminaires deliver a range of direct and indirect light distributions in a compact, low-profile housing that integrates well into the built environment.

A-Light’s ACL2ST and ALD2ST luminaires deliver a range of direct and indirect light distributions in a compact, low-profile housing that integrates well into the built environment.

Choose from a range of new mounting options for diverse design concepts, including adjustable mounting for easier and quicker installation.

Click here to learn more.

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Dodge Momentum Index Declines in November 2021

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4% in November to 171.7 (2000=100) — down from the revised October reading of 178.1. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Construction Network, is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In November, commercial planning fell 8% while institutional planning moved 5% higher.

The Dodge Momentum Index fell 4% in November to 171.7 (2000=100) — down from the revised October reading of 178.1. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Construction Network, is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In November, commercial planning fell 8% while institutional planning moved 5% higher.

The value of nonresidential building projects continues to move in a sawtooth pattern, alternating between a month of gains followed by a loss. Since the pandemic began, nonresidential building projects entering planning have been more volatile than in past cycles, likely driven by increased challenges from higher prices and lack of labor.

Despite these issues and a lack of underlying demand for some building types such as offices and hotels, the Momentum Index remains near a 14-year high. Compared to November 2020, the Momentum Index was 44% higher in November 2021. The commercial planning component was 45% higher, and institutional was 41% higher.

A total of 10 projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in November. The leading commercial projects were a $240 million Seefried Industrial Properties warehouse in Mesa, AZ, and a $158 million Prologis warehouse in Lebanon, TN. The leading institutional projects were the $450 million Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, and the $241 million Hoboken High School in Hoboken, NJ.

Planning data continues to suggest a healthy level of construction to come in 2022. However, due to higher prices and shortages of labor, actual growth is expected to be modest. The new Omicron variant for COVID-19, and its potential impact on economic growth, highlights the tremendous uncertainly the construction sector will face over the coming year.

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