Category: Energy + Environment

Ontario Offering New LED Grow Light Incentives To SW Ontario Greenhouses

The Ontario provincial government announced new funding to help greenhouses switch from traditional lighting sources to LEDs. 

The Ontario provincial government announced new funding to help greenhouses switch from traditional lighting sources to LEDs. Ontario’s Ministry of Energy said last week that up to $136 million CAD will be invested to help greenhouse operators in southwestern Ontario improve energy efficiency by making changes like switching their grow lights to LEDs.

Image: CBC News

Support for greenhouses will come in the form of incentives to install LED grow lights and controls for lighting and environmental systems, including optional incentives for solar generation. The program is expected to be available in the spring of 2023. Many details about the incentives are not yet known.

More information is available here.

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Laser Surface Finishing Technology Creates Bio-Inspired, Optical Functional Surfaces

German company Fusion Bionic’s laser technology improves the surface performance of products, applications, and components using their new DLIP – Direct Laser Interference Patterning.

Image: FusionBionic.com

A German company, Fusion Bionic, is a spinout from the cooperation between the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS and the Technical University of Dresden. The company’s laser technology improves the surface performance of products, applications, and components using their new DLIP – Direct Laser Interference Patterning.

Their laser-based solution is inspired by natural surfaces such as the lotus leaf, sharkskin, collembola and morpho butterfly, which allows for advanced surface features such as self-cleaning, anti-icing, antibacterial, decoration, drag reduction , and more. They transfer these diverse effects to technical surfaces through laser-based surface functionalization.

Optical applications include:

  • Anti-reflection
  • Anti-Fogging
  • Anti-Glare
  • Absorption improvement
  • Holographic product protection
  • Decoration
  • Light control

The company’s initial target industries are aerospace, automotive, and medical technology. Their laser-generated surface texture technology replaces more ecologically harmful processes, such as chemical de-icing, sandblasting, or chemical etching, while meeting the demand of increased product performance via industrial-scale surface finishing.

On November 16th, The Biomimicry Institute awarded Fusion Bionic with Runner-up recognition in their 2022 Ray of Hope Prize®. This identifies Fusion Bionic as one of the top nature-inspired startups in the world accompanied by a $25,000 equity-free prize and further media support to foster their growth.

More information is available here.

Image: FusionBionic.com

 

Image: FusionBionic.com

 

 

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Federal Government Develops Window Film To Prevent Bird Collisions With Windows

It has been well documented that artificial light at night (ALAN) can disorient birds and increase bird collisions with buildings, especially windows. The reflectance of windows can lead birds to not realize that windows are solid objects to be avoided. New window film developed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) can prevent deadly bird-window collisions.

It has been well documented that artificial light at night (ALAN) can disorient birds and increase bird collisions with buildings, especially windows. The reflectance of windows can lead birds to not realize that windows are solid objects to be avoided. New window film developed by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) can prevent deadly bird-window collisions.

Image: FacilitiesNet.com

Every year nearly one billion birds collide with glass in the United States. Since 1970, an estimated three billion birds have vanished from the continent’s total population, and collisions are a significant contributor to this decline. Glass windows are dangerous to birds because they reflect their surrounding environment – like forest, clouds or sky.

A new adhesive window film creates a pattern of small dots on windows, and birds recognize them as barriers and steer clear.

Factors that can influence the rate of bird collisions include: the number of windows, lighting practices at night (lights disorient birds), and the building’s surrounding habitat. You can read more about the USFWS bird collision prevention program here.

Image: Mourning Dove dander print left on a window after a collision. Jeanne Donaldson/Portland Audubon

 


Image: Maintenance professionals install Feather Friendly material at the Northeast Regional USFWS Office in Hadley, MA. Leah Riley/USFWS

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ENERGY STAR Proposes Sunset Of Lamps, Luminaires & Ceiling Fan Light Kit Programs

On Monday, November 14, 2022, ENERGY STAR issued a memo proposing to sunset its Lamps, Luminaires, and Ceiling Fan Light Kit programs.

On Monday, November 14, 2022, ENERGY STAR issued a memo proposing to sunset its Lamps, Luminaires, and Ceiling Fan Light Kit programs. It’s not uncommon for ENERGY STAR to sunset product categories after DOE has issued appliance efficiency standards that eliminate most of the savings potential for an ENERGY STAR category. Such a DOE standards increase also eliminates savings potential for utilities, triggering an end to rebates for a category.

In this case it was the DOE 45 lpW general service lamp “backstop” that is causing ENERGY STAR to propose sunsetting the lighting categories. Here are the key take aways from ENERGY STAR’s proposal:

  • ENERGY STAR is taking comments on the proposal and timeline through January 6, 2023.
  • The proposal is to sunset ENERGY STAR for lamps, luminaires, and ceiling fan light kits effective the end of 2024.
  • To stop accepting new certifications for these products at the end of 2023.
  • To remove lighting requirements from the ENERGY STAR specifications for ceiling fans and ventilation fans, at the end of 2023.
  • EPA believes many utilities will cease residential lighting rebates by the end of 2023.

The full EPA proposal memo is available here.

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Sustainability And Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

A recent editorial in LD&A magazine noted that we no longer have to single out “LED” lighting projects because now almost all projects use LEDs. There is no question that LEDs have drastically reduced energy use in both new construction and retrofit projects. So much so that some are arguing if we even really need lighting energy codes anymore.

By Jeff Schwartz, LC, Member Emeritus IES  – JDS1 Consulting

A recent editorial in LD&A magazine noted that we no longer have to single out “LED” lighting projects because now almost all projects use LEDs. There is no question that LEDs have drastically reduced energy use in both new construction and retrofit projects. So much so that some are arguing if we even really need lighting energy codes anymore.

But if we take a look backward, there are lessons to be learned. When fluorescent tubes, screw-in compact fluorescents, and “PL” type lamps came out, we hailed them as wonderful energy-saving technologies. Then we found out that the mercury they contained was ending up in our landfills. It took years, and the investment of significant capitol, before we started recycling fluorescent lighting. In fact, laws were passed, and codes established to make sure fluorescent recycling got done. We got really good at it, recycling almost all the materials.

With the introduction of LEDs, we jumped right into selling and using them without a well thought out plan to deal with end-of-life. When I first started selling LED exit signs in the 1980s, I joked with my customers that these would last so long “we will both be retired before they burn out.” Well, I was right about burning out, but recent studies have shown that older LED exit signs no longer meet the standards for visibility due to depreciated lumen output. If we are to correct this problem, it means that millions (yes millions) of older exit signs should be replaced sometime soon. And our plan for recycling is?? While there are some companies offering to recycle LEDs, I have yet to find any information on how much of the material is actually recycled.

Metals and metalloids such as arsenic, gallium, indium, and the rare-earth elements (REEs) cerium, europium, gadolinium, lanthanum, terbium, and yttrium are important mineral materials used in LED semiconductor technology. Each of these is used in miniscule quantities. Are they actually being recycled, or is it just the plastic and metal? If these end up en masse in our landfills, what impact will they have on our water tables if they leak? What are the potential health risks? Once again, what are we doing to our environment?

Vermont and California have both recently moved to ban most fluorescent tubes and CFLs, in order to push forward with LED replacements. As noted, we have the ability to recycle all those fluorescent tubes, but what do we do ten or more years from now when the LED tubes reach end-of-life? We know how to recycle the glass, but what about the rest of it?

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) recently put out an open letter in which they challenged our industry to think of sustainability in terms of components (like replaceable tubes) instead of whole fixtures that will be thrown away. While that certainly addresses part of the problem, it still leaves us with a technology that is difficult to recycle.

In summary, sustainability has to be cradle to grave, and I fear that just like with fluorescent lighting, we have not thought through all of the long-term implications for LEDs.

Jeff can be reached at – JDS1Consulting@gmail.com

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Proposed 2024 IECC Commercial Code Would Reduce New Commercial Building Energy Use

The Public Comment Draft #1 of the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code Commercial Provisions was released on September 6, 2022. With buildings currently representing 39% of U.S. carbon emissions, leading jurisdictions recognize the importance of using building codes and performance policies to respond to the effects of climate change and reduce future risks.

The Public Comment Draft #1 of the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code Commercial Provisions was released on September 6, 2022. With buildings currently representing 39% of U.S. carbon emissions, leading jurisdictions recognize the importance of using building codes and performance policies to respond to the effects of climate change and reduce future risks. To keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, new construction in the U.S. must be all-electric by 2025, and climate-optimized by 2030. With just one code development cycle before 2025, and only three to reach 2030, the provisions adopted into the 2024 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) are critical to achieve the model code needed to mitigate buildings’ contributions to climate change.

From 2006 to 2021, the IECC increased its efficiency requirements by about 40%, or an average of 8% a cycle. The 2024 IECC continues to reduce the energy use of buildings with efficiency and for the first time includes onsite renewable energy and grid integration requirements. The lighting provisions of the draft 2024 IECC model energy code are located on pages 266 to 291, of the draft model commercial building code, which can be downloaded here.

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New Code For Existing Building Decarbonization Overlays 2021 IECC

A new model code from the New Buildings Institute (NBI) is designed to help cities tackle emissions, specifically from the large stock of existing buildings. The model code Existing Building Decarbonization Code was published on Sept. 19, 2022. It is considered an overlay to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and an addition to the Building Decarbonization Code published by NBI in 2020.

A new model code from the New Buildings Institute (NBI) is designed to help cities tackle emissions, specifically from the large stock of existing buildings. The model code Existing Building Decarbonization Code was published on Sept. 19, 2022. It is considered an overlay to the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and an addition to the Building Decarbonization Code published by NBI in 2020.

NBI describes the code as “a new way for jurisdictions to reduce carbon emissions.” It will also help them “meet climate action plan goals and interconnected goals around public health and equity.”

New construction only accounts for a very small percentage of building activity in a given year, less than 2%. According to NBI, the effort to reduce building emissions must focus on existing stock to have a significant impact. NBI recognizes the enormity of the problem, noting that the United States currently has 5.9 million existing commercial buildings, which account for 97 billion square feet of space. However, it also sees the potential for significant reductions, projecting that cities could cut about 30% of all urban emissions by 2050 if they were to require existing buildings to be more energy efficient.

Some of the key technologies identified by the code to help existing buildings reduce their emissions include efficiency, on-site renewable energy generation, electric vehicle charging, and battery storage. Of course, lighting upgrades are often one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures available. Finally, while the code embraces an all-electric path for buildings, it is also flexible and includes options for an approach based on “mixed fuels,” including natural gas.

Read the full article in Electrical Contractor Magazine here.

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The Language of the Circular Economy

Do you wish you knew a little bit more about the circular economy and how it applies to sustainable lighting? The Sustainable Furnishings Council has recently published Circular Design Glossary: Furniture & Furnishings.

Do you wish you knew a little bit more about the circular economy and how it applies to sustainable lighting? The Sustainable Furnishings Council has recently published Circular Design Glossary: Furniture & Furnishings, in collaboration with mebl | Transforming Furniture and Soma studiomilano. The glossary defines and explains 43 different terms from circular economy practice, such as: Biodesign, Biomimicry, Cradle to Cradle, Embedded Impacts, Just Transition, Regenerative Design, Technical Nutrients, and many more.

Every defined term comes with an example from the furniture industry, including several that are from lighting (see examples below). The full glossary document can be downloaded here.


BIOMIMICRY: 25Lamp by Kovac Family draws inspiration from mollusk shell structure to create a design that folds and unfolds, allowing for flat packaging. Through BIOMIMICRY – mimicking nature – the design of the 25Lamp greatly reduces the waste and pollution associated with packing and transporting. Flat packaging results in reduced CO2 emissions by both requiring less space in transport and reducing/eliminating the need for packing materials such as plastic and foam. The 25Lamp – handmade in Sweden from local FSC-certified and reclaimed wood – is shipped with a modest amount of 100% recycled packaging.

 


COMPOSTABLE: The MushLume Lighting Collection by biodesigner Danielle Trofe comprises hanging pendants, tables, and floor lamps. This collection combines hemp with mycelium – the vegetative part of fungi – to “grow lampshades.” Within a few days, mycelium cultivates a thick network of hyphae – long filamentous branches found in fungi – which is then left to solidify within custom lampshade molds. When the mycelium matures, the molds are removed and the lampshades are then dried and heated. This creates a stable, 100% COMPOSTABLE product that can ultimately add nutrients back to the earth.

 

BIODESIGN: The Bacteria Lamp by designer Jan Klingler uses bacteria samples from people, places, or things to preserve memories. The designer explains that every living creature and place has a unique microbiological “fingerprint.” Applying BIODESIGN, Jan Klingler collects a fingerprint, then lets the bacteria grow for 24 – 48 hours. He then seals the microorganisms within a resin to preserve the unique pattern for eternity. While bacteria is usually associated with disease, this collection shows that it can also carry a story of people or places dear to us.

 

 

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German Manufacturer Calls For Design Shift To Delivered Efficacy

A German spotlight manufacturer, ERCO, has issued a public call for the lighting design industry to shift from luminaire efficacy (measured in lumens/Watt) to the “effectiveness of the light in the space” (aka “delivered efficacy,” measured in lux/Watt or foot-candles/Watt).

A German spotlight manufacturer, ERCO, has issued a public call for the lighting design industry to shift from luminaire efficacy (measured in lumens/Watt) to the “effectiveness of the light in the space” (aka “delivered efficacy,” measured in lux/Watt or foot-candles/Watt).

If the lighting design community adopted this approach and metrics, it would begin judging the efficiency of a luminaire by how well it puts light where desired rather than how efficiently it emits light. This isn’t a completely new idea. At the LED chip level, it’s long been promoted that higher lumen density (lumens/light emitting surface) leads to higher “optical control” and higher delivered efficiency. The principle is the same at the luminaire level. This is why there has long been a push for higher output point sources from smaller and smaller emitting areas/sources.

Center beam candle power (CBCP) describes the ability of a luminaire/source to deliver brightness to a location, but it doesn’t describe the efficiency of delivering that brightness. Lx/W (metric system) or fc/W (English units) would describe delivered efficacy of a luminaire.

ERCO is also publicly calling for “a general movement towards the illumination of vertical surfaces over the floor.” This is increasingly being advocated by thought leaders in lighting design, as much work has moved from paper and physical items to digital & vertical computer screens. Of course, as in all things, application matters. ERCO adds, “Historically, walls haven’t been prioritized, although the latest version of the European indoor lighting standard EN 12464-1 now takes it more seriously.”

ERCO further argues that their spotlight uses lower lumen/W, high-powered, small chips that achieve higher lx/W than a COB+reflector combination because the COB+reflector wastes significantly more light.

From the company’s press release:

“ERCO spotlights, by contrast, use lens systems [paired] with single high-powered chips. This tiny but bright point of light is much easier to control into a narrow beam of effective light. ERCO mounts the chips themselves into their own printed circuit boards before pairing them with a bespoke lens design.

Although this construction has nominally lower lm/W values, it brings up to 20 percent more light to the target surface compared to rivals. This means that [designers] who only look at the lm/W values on a luminaire‘s technical data sheet are giving away the potential for sustainable lighting focusing on more light on the target area as well as for energy savings.”

ERCO also points out this can significantly reduce glare, which in many cases is wasted light (spill light). The full ERCO press release can be found here.

Example of lighting walls (vertical plane) rather than floors (horizontal plane).

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Energy Efficiency Tax Deductions Expanded By The Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was signed into law on August 16, 2022. Among the provisions included in this bill is the expansion of the Section 179D tax deduction for building energy efficiency. Thousands of commercial building owners have utilized the 179D tax deduction since its inception in 2005, and this expansion potentially allows for many more to not only utilize the deduction but also claim larger amounts than previously available.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was signed into law on August 16, 2022. Among the provisions included in this bill is the expansion of the Section 179D tax deduction for building energy efficiency. Thousands of commercial building owners have utilized the 179D tax deduction since its inception in 2005, and this expansion potentially allows for many more to not only utilize the deduction but also claim larger amounts than previously available.

Under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, Section 179D allows for energy efficient investments in new and existing buildings to qualify for immediate tax deductions up to $1.88 per square foot through the 2022 tax year. Eligible projects include those related to interior lighting, HVAC, and building envelope. The 179D deduction was made permanent as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Owners of commercial buildings can utilize the 179D deduction for building projects completed since January 1, 2006. Owners in all major building categories are utilizing the deduction, including warehouse, industrial, retail, office, hospitality, and restaurant chains.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes numerous updates to the 179D deduction, which take effect on January 1, 2023. Notable updates include:

  • Deduction levels up to $5.00 per square foot – the qualified deduction range for projects meeting prevailing wage and apprenticeship standards will be between $2.50 and $5.00 per square foot, depending on the building’s energy efficiency level. For projects that do not meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship standards, the deduction level range will be between $0.50 and $1.00 per square foot.
  • Inclusion of not-for-profits, instrumentalities and Tribal Government buildings – Designers of energy systems in these buildings are now allowed to claim the 179D deduction for qualifying projects.
  • Deduction reset – currently, the maximum 179D deduction can be taken once over the life of the building. With the passage of this new law, the maximum deduction would now be available every three years on a commercial building and every four years on a government, instrumentality, not-for-profit, or Tribal Government building.

With the growth of e-commerce, many new distribution centers / warehouses have been built in the United States. This is an excellent category for large EPAct tax deductions which are based on square footage. Under the IRA a 1 million-square-foot distribution center could qualify for a $5 million tax deduction.

With warehouse lighting projects, facility managers are required to understand which items are picked more frequently. One strategy is to use sensor-controlled digital fixtures and organize the aisles so that the most frequently picked items are all in the same aisles with the easiest access. With this technique, large portions of the warehouse can be kept dark, meaning virtually no lighting-related electric costs are incurred. Such retrofits can qualify for EPAct 179D deductions.

Another category of commercial buildings is hospitals. For the first time effective January 1, 2023, all hospitals can generate 179D tax benefits. For-profit hospitals and government hospitals (for designers) have also been eligible for 179D tax benefits.  Now, the largest hospital category, tax-exempt hospitals, can generate 179D designer benefits.

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, companies are now positioned to monetize the 179D deduction in a greater capacity than ever before. The increased deduction levels lead to a quicker payback and improved return-on-investment (ROI) for distribution center owners who are considering installing energy efficient equipment. For designers, the deduction can now be used on energy efficient designs for non-profit, instrumentality, and Tribal government buildings. The increase in potential tax savings allows companies to fuel further energy efficient upgrades and improvements.

Read the full article in FacilitiesNet.com here.

 

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