Author: Craig DiLouie

Metabolic Media

Inspired by photosynthesis in plants, Studio Loop.ph Ltd. set out to build architectural structures with energy-harvesting canopies that absorb solar energy during the day and emit light at night. “A…

Inspired by photosynthesis in plants, Studio Loop.ph Ltd. set out to build architectural structures with energy-harvesting canopies that absorb solar energy during the day and emit light at night.

“A modular photovoltaic membrane was prototyped for the installation that can be clad to our geotextile architecture to provide both shelter and shade from the sun during the day and once evening falls light is cast into the darkness using low-power micro LEDs with printed circuitry,” Rachel Wingfield, MPhil RCA told LightNOW. “We will be developing this over the next 12 months together with Risø DTU, the National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy in Denmark, as a low-cost, high-volume source of light for emergency shelter relief.”

The same technology can be used to provide a lightweight solution for growing food plants in small spaces without soil, she adds.

Visit Studio Loop.pH at Loop.pH and Risø DTU at www.risoe.dk/solarcells.

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DOE Proposes New Efficiency Rules Targeting Fluorescent T12 and Halogen Lamps

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has put forward efficiency regulations on 4- and 8-ft. linear fluorescent lamps and halogen PAR lamps and is accepting comments for the near future…

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has put forward efficiency regulations on 4- and 8-ft. linear fluorescent lamps and halogen PAR lamps and is accepting comments for the near future (60 days after the publication of the regulations in the Federal Register, and as of February 6, 2009, this apparently has not happened yet, according to the DOE website). The proposed regulations are expected to eliminate most 4- and 8-ft. T12 lamps and current halogen PAR lamps, leaving only some shapes of high-efficiency halogen IR lamps.

Halogen IR lamp technology uses an infrared reflective coating on the tungsten halogen capsule, which refocuses waste heat back onto the filament, resulting in higher light output without higher lamp wattage. Image courtesy of Sylvania.

Halogen IR lamp technology uses an infrared reflective coating on the tungsten halogen capsule, which refocuses waste heat back onto the filament, resulting in higher light output without higher lamp wattage. Image courtesy of Sylvania.

A copy of the proposed regulation can be downloaded here.

Soon after the IES Legislative and Regulatory Committee announced that the proposed regulations were available for public comment, lighting designer Howard Brandston responded to DOE and asked me to publish his letter as an open letter to DOE. This letter is below.

To the U.S. Department of Energy:

This letter is a request to have you cease all work on regulating light source efficacy. If you continue in the direction you are taking, you will destroy the ability of those who practice lighting design to do good work. Further, you will accomplish little in the way of energy conservation. The potential regressive impact on the quality of work and living space habitability might, in fact, reduce productivity and indeed have a negative result.

Other areas of conservation would have the potential to yield greater reduction in energy usage and would not be seriously damaging the professional lighting designer’s ability to responsibly meet their client’s needs. One example would be to reduce the heating temperature in institutional types of work spaces with occupancy of 10 people or more. To ameliorate what some might feel is a chilly space, the government could issue a voucher to purchase a sweater and a piece of warming headgear. The fuel saved in heating tens of millions of square feet of office and other facilities would do more to promote energy conservation in a week than regulating lamp efficacy ever will.

This same program is proposing to outlaw and replace most incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent sources. The data being used to justify this is in error. Many papers have been published documenting this error, which in truth is a deception of the general public. I do not believe that this ‘deception’ is fully understood by those engaged in promulgating this misinformation.

I am a firm believer in energy conservation and have served on committees to further that end. I wrote the mathematical equation that was used in the first ASHRAE.IES Standard 90.1 to set the upper power limit for lighting in that first energy document. That Standard has also become too stringent in my opinion.

Where does this “opinion” come from? It comes from over 50 years of lighting design practice. I am a Past President of the IESNA and the founding partner of the Brandston Partnership, a firm with over 3000 projects in about 60 countries. I am now retired but still active in the lighting industry. Please visit my personal web site www.concerninglight.com for a more detailed perspective in what I have accomplished.

The DOE has certainly made some remarkable strides. Please do not tarnish that record by continuing to follow this particular direction. Please feel free to contact me to discuss this subject in more detail.

Respectfully submitted.

Howard M. Brandston, LC, FIES, Hon. FCIBSE, FIALD, PLDA, MSLL

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Construction Put in Place Spending Tops $1.078 Trillion in 2008

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce has announced that construction spending during December 2008 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,053.7 billion, 1.4% below…

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce has announced that construction spending during December 2008 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,053.7 billion, 1.4% below the revised November estimate of $1,068.8 billion. The December figure is 3.6% below the December 2007 estimate of $1,093.5 billion.

The value of construction in 2008 was $1,078.9 billion, 5.1% below the $1,137.2 billion spent in 2007. But the nonresidential market ended the year way above 2007.

PRIVATE CONSTRUCTION

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $737.1 billion, 1.7% below the revised November estimate of $749.6 billion.

Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $319.2 billion in December, 3.2% below the revised November estimate of $329.9 billion.

Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $417.9 billion in December, 0.4% below the revised November estimate of $419.7 billion.

The value of private construction in 2008 was $770.4 billion, 9.4% below the $850.0 billion spent in 2007. Residential construction in 2008 was $358.4 billion, 27.2% below the 2007 figure of $492.5 billion and nonresidential construction was $412.0 billion, 15.3% above the $357.5 billion in 2007.

PUBLIC CONSTRUCTION

In December, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $316.6 billion, 0.8% below the revised November estimate of $319.3 billion. Education construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $86.2 billion, 0.9% below the revised November estimate of $87 billion.

The value of public construction in 2008 was $308.5 billion, 7.4% above the $287.1 billion spent in 2007. Education construction in 2008 was $85.5 billion, 7.9% above the 2007 figure of $79.3 billion.

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Efficiency Laws Are Retiring Lighting’s Workhorses

Incandescent general-service and reflector lamps, and fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts, are being targeted by efficiency legislation. As a result, some of lighting’s most venerable workhorses…

Incandescent general-service and reflector lamps, and fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts, are being targeted by efficiency legislation. As a result, some of lighting’s most venerable workhorses are being retired. Their new competitors are simply too efficient and better performing.

Light Bulb Crash

The electronic ballast’s rapid rise to dominance of the fluorescent ballast market, for example, will be complete starting in 2010. With passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), ballast manufacturers will begin phasing out production of their last magnetic ballast models starting July 2009.

Then on July 1, 2010, luminaire manufacturers will stop selling fluorescent luminaires with magnetic ballasts—with a few exceptions—and ballast manufacturers will stop producing replacement ballasts that don’t pass the efficiency requirements.

In the high-intensity discharge (HID) family, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts are being targeted.

Mercury vapor isn’t specified very often anymore, but still has a large installed base. EPAct 2005 eliminated manufacture and import of these ballasts as of January 1, 2008. While there may be options to lose the ballast but keep the mercury lamp, owners of installed systems should be encouraged to consider upgrading their lighting to other sources such as metal halide. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) contains technical corrections to EPAct 2005 enabling specialty ballasts.

Starting January 1, 2009, EISA 2007 enacts regulation of the efficiency of ballasts in new luminaires containing 150-500W metal halide lamps, with some exceptions; compliant luminaires will bear a capital “E” printed in a circle on their packaging and ballast label. In a nutshell, probe-start magnetic ballasts for operation of lamps up to 400W will be virtually eliminated from new luminaires and, with them, most 175-400W probe-start metal halide lamps. Alternatives include fluorescent and pulse-start metal halide luminaires, which in almost all respects are more efficient and better performing.

EISA 2007 also took aim at the iconic incandescent lamp with efficiency standards targeting reflector lamps in June 2008 and general-service lamps starting in January 2012.

Regarding reflector lamps, there are notable exceptions, but most incandescent reflector lamps have been phased out. Demand is expected to shift to halogen, which does comply; check with manufacturers about substitutions.

Regarding general-service screw-in incandescent and halogen lamps, today’s offerings will be virtually eliminated—100W lamps starting January 1, 2012, 75W lamps starting in 2013, and 40W and 60W lamps starting in 2014. However, this oldest of lighting technologies may survive if it can be reinvented with a higher efficiency, although this seems doubtful since GE recently announced that it was giving up on its high-efficiency incandescent (HEI) lamp. Meanwhile, energy-saving halogen bulbs are available and more are expected within the next few years.

Of these efficiency regulations, almost all of them target technology that, in some cases, is so obsolete it’s surprising the market hasn’t finished them off on its own. For example, probe-start luminaires were being installed in new buildings that were immediately ripe for retrofit to fluorescent luminaires for up to 50% energy savings. For almost all of the targeted technologies, highly efficient and better-performing substitutes are available. The exception is the general-service incandescent lamp: The compact fluorescent still has some performance issues, such as the fact that dimmable models exhibit problems while dimming on line-voltage dimmers, and it simply isn’t suitable for all incandescent applications. Let’s hope tomorrow’s LEDs can do better.

Incandescent reflector lamps. Fluorescent magnetic, mercury vapor and probe-start metal halide ballasts. They’ve had a good run, but now it’s time to gracefully retire.

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Boston University Explores Wireless Communication Based on Visible Light

One possible future wireless technology is interesting not because of its potential for lighting control, but its potential to use visible white light as a communication medium for control of…

One possible future wireless technology is interesting not because of its potential for lighting control, but its potential to use visible white light as a communication medium for control of computers, phones and appliances.

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In October 2008, Boston University’s College of Engineering announced that it had received a National Science Foundation grant to develop wireless communication technology based on visible light instead of radio waves.

The researchers expect to piggyback data communications capabilities on white LEDs to create “Smart Lighting” that is expected to be faster and more secure than today’s network technology. The LED lighting would provide Internet connections to computers, PDAs, TV and radio reception, telephone connections and thermostat temperature control.

The ability to cycle LEDs ON and OFF at a very high frequency is key to the technology. Flickering light in patterns enables data transmission without a noticeable change in room lighting. A wireless device within sight of an enabled LED could send and receive data through the air initially at speeds in the 1-10 megabit per second (Mbps) range with each LED serving as an access point to the network.

Such a network would have the potential to offer users greater bandwidth than current RF technology, although they will have to get the data rates up to take the technology where they want it to go. This will likely take some years.

For more information, visit Boston University’s Smart Lighting project here.

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Downlight Market at a Glance

Recently, I conducted a survey of about 600 lighting designers, mostly IALD members, asking them questions about their specifications of nonresidential spec-grade downlights and also their perceptions of popular brands…

Recently, I conducted a survey of about 600 lighting designers, mostly IALD members, asking them questions about their specifications of nonresidential spec-grade downlights and also their perceptions of popular brands in the market. To qualify to take the survey, the designer had to confirm that they have specified commercial downlights over the past three years.

The survey was part of a larger study I conducted of a larger sampling of architects and lighting designers subscribing to Illuminate, the lighting design supplement to Architectural Products that I produce. Depending on the type of response we get to it here, we will go ahead with publishing the full results in the next issue of Illuminate and also possibly make it a regular feature in Illuminate, covering a different market in each issue (direct/indirect, track, outdoor, etc.).

So: What do you think? Please leave us a comment!

First, I asked lighting designers to break down their nonresidential downlight specs by general type:

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Second, I asked them to break down their specs by size:

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What are the most important factors designers consider when selecting a downlight brand?

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And lastly, I asked lighting designers what is their perception of a list of common downlight brands in terms of average price of product (1-7 scale representing low to high) and average quality of product (1-7 scale representing low to high). The results are below. (Note that Juno is not listed horizontally for any special reason; that is a glitch courtesy of the Excel version in Microsoft Office 2007.)

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Any surprises here?

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LEDs Will Rule the World

Okay, maybe not. But the technology available for LED building illumination has come a long way in a surprisingly short amount of time. According to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory,…

Okay, maybe not. But the technology available for LED building illumination has come a long way in a surprisingly short amount of time.

According to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, LED technology is moving so quickly that next-generation products are entering the market every six months, feeding a global illumination market that approached $2 billion in 2007, according to Strategies Unlimited.

Check out this graphic based on information provided by the U.S. Department of Energy in March 2008. DOE says there will be commercially available cool-white LED devices with an efficacy of 150 lumens/W in about 1-2 years and similar warm-white LED devices in about five years.

ledprojections

As efficacy increases and costs come down, LED products will become positioned for widespread use in general lighting.

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Lighting Designers Likely to Find 2009 IECC Disappointing

The International Code Council’s (ICC) 2009 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a model energy code adopted by many states, contains a number of lighting-related provisions that lighting…

The International Code Council’s (ICC) 2009 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a model energy code adopted by many states, contains a number of lighting-related provisions that lighting designers are likely to find objectionable.

One area of concern is that the 2009 IECC eliminates mixing methodologies from ASHRAE 90.1 as an alternative standard. All projects must show compliance with either 2009 IECC or ASHRAE 90.1-2007 in total. Eliminating the allowance of ASHRAE 90.1 as an autonomously alternative compliance standard removes an important tool when designing lighting in more complex spaces, as ASHRAE, while more complicated, offers greater flexibility.

Another area of concern is retail lighting. The 2009 IECC reduces additional power allowances for display lighting to nominally one-half of the values permitted in ASHRAE 90.1-2007. This will likely have a dramatic impact on retail display lighting.

And yet another is a residential lighting provision that requires at least 50% of the lamps in permanently installed luminaires be high-efficacy lamps, with the compliance threshold set at efficacies (lumens/W) achievable only by screw-in or pin-based fluorescent lamps such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). The loose nature of this language makes it vulnerable to cheats and gaming, and may actually promote the addition of more luminaires than needed. An amendment was offered that allowed halogen other non-compliant light sources as long as they were controlled by occupancy sensors or dimmers, but it was not accepted, and a real energy savings opportunity is therefore not being realized.

I’ll be posting an in-depth comparison of the 2009 IECC with the 2006 IECC soon…

To get a copy of the 2009 IECC, visit the International Code Council’s website.

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Are LEDs Ready to Retrofit the T8?

A recent article I wrote for Electrical Contractor talks about the push to replace linear fluorescent lamps with linear LED replacement lamps. In a nutshell, linear LED replacement lamps are…

A recent article I wrote for Electrical Contractor talks about the push to replace linear fluorescent lamps with linear LED replacement lamps.

In a nutshell, linear LED replacement lamps are now being offered as direct drop-in replacements of 4-ft. T8 and T12 lamps. Even with the possibility of delamping due to higher fixture efficiency and the maintenance benefit of a service life up to 50,000 hours, at $45-$300 per lamp the payback is still not good enough to pass most corporate hurdle rates.

The biggest problem is that these lamps are typically not producing the promised light output, according to product testing by the U.S. Department of Energy’s CALiPER program. In fact, DOE found that manufacturers are often overstating performance.

CALiPER testing addressed a range of standard lighting measures, including power usage, luminous flux, photometric distribution, source and luminaire efficacy, correlated color temperature (CCT), and color-rendering index (CRI) for the lamps tested separately and in troffers.

Key findings:

• The comparatively low light output of LED linear replacement lamps could result in unacceptably low illumination levels in retrofit applications.
• LED linear replacements achieved higher fixture efficiencies than benchmark fluorescent configurations in CALiPER testing; however, low lumen output and efficacy limited their overall performance to levels significantly below those of fluorescent systems.
• CALiPER testing at this time shows that LED technology is not yet ready to displace linear fluorescent lamps as replacement light sources in recessed troffers for general interior lighting.

There are several lessons here, which are presented at the end of the article, but probably the most important is: Just because a lighting product is LED does not automatically mean it’s energy-efficient.

To read the complete article, visit Electrical Contractor here.

See the results of Round 5 of the DOE’s CALiPER testing here. A benchmark report has also just become available here.

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President Obama Likely to Address U.S. Energy Demand

And that will probably include lighting, too. Calling energy efficiency America’s “cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source,” President Obama’s energy plan targets a reduction in electricity demand of 15% from projected…

And that will probably include lighting, too.

Calling energy efficiency America’s “cheapest, cleanest, fastest energy source,” President Obama’s energy plan targets a reduction in electricity demand of 15% from projected levels by 2020, including efforts to make all new buildings 50% more efficient and all existing buildings 25% more efficient.

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With a clear mandate and Democrats holding a strong majority in both houses of Congress, Mr. Obama is in a position to see his energy plan become law fairly quickly.

Lighting will play a major part in achieving these goals both as a critical part of any effort to upgrade the efficiency of a building and as an appliance regulated by efficiency standards

The potential problem here is that policy makers, not being lighting people, do not always make decisions that reflect human needs for good lighting. Despite the strong lobbying efforts of some of the larger lighting manufacturers, it seems like the lighting community too often finds itself reacting to policy set by others instead of shaping policy themselves.

In the January issue of Illuminate, a magazine I produce as a supplement to Architectural Products, I called for the funding of an industry lobbying organization to represent the interests of good lighting to policy makers such as code-making and standard-setting organizations, state and Federal governments, regulatory bodies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, and other industry groups such as the U.S. Green Building Council.

This organization would not belong to one particular interest in the lighting industry but span multiple organizations to make sure there is broadest possible representation.

For more information (PDF) about President Obama’s energy plan published when he was then candidate Obama, click here.

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