Category: Interviews + Opinion

Focal Point’s Michael McCoy Talks Acoustic Luminaires

I recently had the opportunity to interview Michael McCoy, Director, Architectural Systems, Focal Point for an article about sound-absorbing luminaires for an upcoming issue of tED Magazine, official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Michael McCoy, Director, Architectural Systems, Focal Point for an article about sound-absorbing luminaires for an upcoming issue of tED Magazine, official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How would you characterize market demand for sound-absorbing luminaires?

McCoy: Over the past several years, there has been a dramatic increase in market demand for sound-absorbing luminaires, which comes from multiple drivers. First, acoustics is now becoming more front-and-center in the design phase of projects, leading to increased interest in sound-absorbing properties of all architectural products. Next, acoustic specialty ceilings, specifically felt ceilings, are a fast-growing product category. Finding luminaire solutions that aesthetically coordinate with these felt systems is driving additional demand. Finally, the decorative nature of sound-absorbing luminaires, with their unique form factors and colorful housings, provides options for designers looking to create brand-forward and visually interesting spaces for their clients. Acoustic lighting was considered a niche market where only small players were active just a few years ago, but is now in the early stages of growth with many major lighting manufacturers trying to find their place.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of sound-absorbing luminaires?

McCoy: There are 3 primary benefits. The first, of course, is giving the luminaire a functional purpose beyond lighting by contributing additional surface area of sound absorption, leading to a more comfortable audible experience for space occupants. Second, sound-absorbing luminaires can come in many materials and colors, giving specifiers another avenue to elevate the overall look and feel of a space. Finally, given the increasing demand for felt specialty ceilings, sound-absorbing luminaires that leverage felt material can more seamlessly and aesthetically integrate with the ceiling plane.

DiLouie: Open offices are obviously a popular application, but are there others? What space design trends in open offices and these other applications are driving demand for more acoustic control?

McCoy: Sound management in open offices is certainly a major driver of sound-absorbing luminaires. In the modern office, we’ve seen a push towards collaboration and equality. We foresee that this design philosophy will continue to gain momentum when the majority of the population goes back to work, as most workplaces will be repurposed with a focus on collaborative activities. This means that walls, partitions, cubicles, and private offices will be reduced and replaced with low-profile desks and other office furniture that supports collaboration. Also, traditional acoustic ceilings have disappeared and open ceilings have become more prevalent. While appealing from a visual standpoint, these spaces have created new challenges related to confidentiality and acoustic comfort. It’s often hard to hear people on conference calls due to echoing, it’s distracting to hear co-workers on the phone with customers, and private conversations are a challenge. All of these factors drive demand for sound management techniques.

As for other market applications, learning environments, specifically classrooms, lecture halls, and even office training rooms require a minimum level of speech intelligibility. In fact, there exists a Minimum Acoustic Performance prerequisite that applies to schools under LEED Building Design and Construction requiring core learning spaces to achieve target reverberation times (or a reduction in echoing), thus maximizing acoustic comfort. Both WELL and LEED offer points and credits, respectively, for achieving target reverberation time requirements for an array of other applications, including fitness facilities, music performance spaces, courtrooms, libraries, among others.

DiLouie: What are the basic fundamentals of acoustics? How is noise measured, and how is noise reduction measured?

McCoy: Three things can happen to sound as it moves through a space or medium: it can be reflected, transmitted, or absorbed. The “ABCs” of sound management can help specifiers achieve target acoustic objectives, where the “A” stands for Absorption, “B” is for Blocking and “C” is for Covering up. Each of the ABCs has its own purpose and can be measured in different ways.

The A, sound absorption, is primarily used to help reduce reverberation time, or echoing, in a space. Reverberation time (RT60) is the amount of time it takes sound to decay by 60 decibels. The higher the RT60 value, the more echoing. Good sound absorbers reduce the RT60 value and can come in the form of wall panels, ceiling tiles, baffles, carpeting, and other absorptive materials. The most useful metric for evaluating the effectiveness of sound absorbers is Sabins, which is the amount of sound absorption per square foot of material. Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) and Sound Absorption Average (SAA) are also useful, but they have limitations when comparing three-dimensional objects. Most architectural products are tested in a 3rd party laboratory for their absorptive properties. This is accomplished through a before and after test where the products are placed in an echo chamber. Given the reduction in echoing, or reverberation time (RT60), the Sabins of absorption can be calculated. The information is then presented in an ASTM C423 test report, which is used by acousticians and manufacturers to help specifiers with the design of their spaces.

The B, sound blocking, is intended to manage noise by stopping sounds from traveling from one area to another. In interior environments, typical sound blockers include cubicles, privacy dividers, office doors, acoustic curtains, ceiling panels, and walls. Blocking is also important between spaces and for keeping outside noises, including traffic noise, from entering the environment. Blocking, in principle, lowers sound transmission and is measured by Sound Transmission Coefficient (STC). Many spaces have Noise Criteria (NC) requirements which can be measured via background noise measurements in decibels.

Finally, the C, covering up, which is better known as sound masking, is typically achieved with the use of an ambient sound emanating from a speaker, similar to the sound of airflow, that’s specifically engineered to cover up human speech. Unlike sound absorption and sound blocking, both of which are intended to lower overall sound levels, sound masking does not eliminate sounds or eliminate speech noise – it increases the overall sound level. Sound masking elevates the sound floor enough to maintain speech confidentiality and mask distracting noises. There are two different types of sound masking techniques: indirect and direct. The indirect method is the most common, which uses indirect speakers evenly dispersed throughout a space to turn intelligible, distracting speech into unintelligible, non-distracting background noise. The direct method is more technically complex. It has the advantage of varying the intensity and frequency of each speaker to create zones within an office or to ensure a smoother transition from a quiet space to a louder space. In principle, masking reduces how far away conversations can be heard and understood by others, which is called the radius of distraction.

DiLouie: What are typical noise levels in say a typical open office, what is an ideal level, and what impact can sound-absorbing luminaires have? Do any building standards provide guidance, and what do they require?

McCoy: First, we must differentiate noise level, which is typically associated with background noise level, measured by Noise Criteria (NC), from what sound-absorbers, including sound-absorbing luminaires, are intended to contribute to in an environment.

Noise Criteria (NC) is achieved primarily through sound isolation, ensuring that there is adequate sound blocking material between spaces. Most open offices, if they do have NC requirements, are usually in the 30-40 dB range. However, sound-absorbing luminaires are intended to reduce reverberation time (RT60) or echoing in a space and are thus not intended to impact NC.

Ideal reverberation times can vary based on the environment and sound-absorbing luminaires can directly contribute to achieving better reverberation times. WELL and LEED both specify reverberation time requirements for a variety of spaces. WELL requirements are limited to conference rooms, classrooms, lecture halls, fitness facilities, and music rehearsal spaces while LEED is more exhaustive. For open offices, LEED offers Acoustic Performance Credits if a target reverberation time of < 0.8 seconds is achieved.

Even though these standards exist, specifiers may want flexibility to either dampen sound further in open offices, especially if private workspaces are more prevalent, or they may want to maintain more space vibrancy. Outside of LEED and WELL, the standards act as a good starting point, but the space should still be optimized based on purpose and the environment the specifier wants to create.

DiLouie: How are sound-absorbing luminaires constructed? What materials do they use, and otherwise how do they absorb sound?

McCoy: The effectiveness of sound absorbers results from a combination of 1) the material’s properties and thickness, 2) the amount, or surface area, of the material and 3) how the material is applied to a product or to a space.

In general, softer and/or porous materials absorb sound energy better than hard materials. Additionally, the thicker the absorbing material, the more absorptive it is. Therefore, to build a sound-absorbing luminaire, leveraging foam, recycled polyester, wool or perforated hard materials is a good start. Thickness variances can be a trade-off as thicker materials absorb more sound but can become more intrusive or appear clunky in the space.

The next variable is surface area of material. In general, the more material a sound-absorbing luminaire has, the better it will absorb sound. This is especially true if the product is functional in nature and spaced 8’ or 10’ on-center in a space. A small wool cylinder will have a minimal impact in this type of application, but a large dome may have a profound impact. However, if the small wool cylinders are used in clusters, they can be impactful as well. One of the major benefits of applying material to a luminaire is the that the material coverage is typically not on the horizontal plane, rather on the vertical plane. For example, a 2-foot tall baffle can have a comparable impact to having a 2-foot wide absorber, but still maintain an open, airy environment.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the effectiveness of a sound-absorbing luminaire depends on how the material is applied and how the luminaire is constructed. The best example of this is if we take a standard aluminum luminaire and adhere soft material directly to the aluminum. Even though there is no exposed aluminum, the majority of the sound energy will pass through the soft material, bounce off of the aluminum, and bounce back into the space. On the other hand, if we remove the aluminum from inside the luminaire, any sound that is not absorbed will pass through one side of the luminaire and likely get absorbed on the other side of the housing. This air gap can help improve absorptive properties by two to four times. This demonstrates that product design, not just the material or surface area, has a dramatic impact on sound absorption.

DiLouie: When evaluating and comparing sound-absorbing luminaires, what do distributors need to know to be able compare products, match them to an application, and confidently recommend them to a customer?

McCoy: For any given project, there may be lighting, acoustic performance, budget, and aesthetic requirements that need to be considered. While distributors have experience with meeting budget and lighting requirements, aesthetic and acoustic considerations need to be added to their decision-making criteria.

Starting with aesthetics, sound-absorbing luminaires typically have a unique housing material that will need approval from the specifier. The primary aesthetic drivers are form factor, material color, and material feel. If multiple manufacturers are used for any given project, the likelihood of mismatching colors is high, even if they’re specified with the same “book color”. This is primarily because, in the textile world, different batches of the same material can yield slight variances that are very noticeable in the space. The recommendation would be to use the same manufacturer for any specific color or look to ensure continuity in design.

Acoustic performance is the other area to consider when comparing products. If the primary driver for the use of sound-absorbing products is aesthetics, then this may not be an issue, and this should be validated with the specifier. If acoustic performance is a primary driver or a requirement, then a thorough understanding and analysis of products is required, which would require input from the manufacturers, specifiers, and, potentially, acoustic evaluations by acousticians.

Because every product is constructed differently and uses different materials, architectural product manufacturers looking to add absorption to a space need to have their product evaluated by a third-party laboratory. ASTM C423 test reports should be available to support sound absorption claims.

Two-dimensional products, like wall panels and carpeting, can be evaluated using Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) values. In general, the higher the NRC, the better the absorption qualities. However, for three-dimensional products, such as acoustic luminaires, a single number product comparison like NRC is not the correct approach. For example, if the specifier wants to use acoustic linear baffle luminaires, the absorption per luminaire will vary based on how many luminaires are in the space. This means that if acoustic luminaires are spaced 4’ apart or 6’ apart or 8’ apart, the sound absorption properties per luminaire will change. Therefore, a single number on a manufacturer spec sheet is not effective and the distributor would need to be armed with the correct ASTM C423 test data for how the product is used. As we can see, this is not a simple endeavor, so the distributor should rely on the manufacturer or on an acoustician to provide support to validate the effectiveness of the product in the space.

DiLouie: What is an ideal sales pitch for sound-absorbing luminaires? Are there any simple, effective ways distributors could demonstrate the utility of a sound-absorbing luminaire firsthand to a customer?

McCoy: In recent years, the design community has recognized that there is a need to consider sound management techniques earlier in the design process. Since lighting is literally a “fixture” in every interior space, it makes sense that designers would leverage the luminaires’ surface area to help absorb sound. Additionally, when the sound-absorbing luminaire is specified early in the design process, the designer ensures a cohesive aesthetic between the luminaires and the other architectural components.

Moreover, selecting a sound absorbing luminaire or integrated acoustic ceiling a lighting system simplifies the specification, sourcing, and installation process over integrating non-acoustic architectural luminaires from one manufacturer with acoustic baffles or ceiling systems from a different manufacturer. The resulting aesthetic is likely to be superior and the logistics simplified.

Manufacturers can provide many tools for the distributor to demonstrate the utility of the luminaire, from simple acoustic calculators or rule-of-thumb approaches to detailed ASTM C423 test reports for side-by-side product comparisons and advanced calculations. Good manufacturers who are serious about lighting and acoustics will also provide layout and lighting calculation services to assist the distributor and the designer.

DiLouie: What can distributors do to position themselves to sell these products?

McCoy: Distributors are seen as go-to experts for lighting designers, engineers, and contractors on technical lighting requirements. Sound-absorbing luminaires, given their acoustic impact and differentiated aesthetic, require distributors to reach further upstream in the interior architectural design process. Developing relationships with key decision makers, including architects, interior designers, acousticians, and ceiling contractors, and acquiring a basis of knowledge around architectural acoustic materials and the technical aspects of sound management will help distributors gain a stronger market presence and help hold projects downstream.

DiLouie: Are there any tradeoffs or pitfalls that must be mitigated?

McCoy: Once a sound-absorbing luminaire is on spec, the distributor will have to consider more than just the lighting requirements in order to substitute a competitive product. Most sound-absorbing luminaires leverage materials that need to be batched or color-matched properly. If not the end result could be materials that are inconsistent with the original specification and may clash with other ceiling or architectural elements. Additionally, if the design requires a certain amount of sound absorption, the distributor must be careful to perform accurate side-by-side product comparisons before substituting. Either of these cases may require input from the designer and the manufacturer to ensure the requirements behind the specification are being met.

Other potential tradeoffs and pitfalls include a higher cost relative to an equivalent non-acoustic product, more considerations regarding cleanability and handling during installation, and better coordination with ceiling contractors if the acoustic luminaire is a component of a broader ceiling installation.

The benefits of creating a more comfortable, brand-forward, and coordinated interior space outweigh these potential concerns.

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

McCoy: As a trade, related to technical lighting and installation, there’s not much difference between sound-absorbing luminaires and standard aluminum fixtures. The big difference between the two is acoustic impact and aesthetic. In order to sell and coordinate the sound-absorbing luminaires, a new set of tools, knowledge, and relationships may be required to most effectively deliver the best solution to the market.

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

McCoy: The electrical industry should use caution when it comes to claims regarding the acoustic impact of sound-absorbing luminaires. Sound energy and how it travels through or reflects off of different media is a complicated topic. Manufacturer data and acoustic calculators can directionally help designers understand the impact of sound-absorbing luminaires, but for exacting space requirements, including designing for WELL and LEED projects, professional acousticians should be leveraged to validate the effectiveness acoustical products in a design.

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Get a Grip on Lighting: The Loss of Serendipity

In this featured episode of the Get a Grip on Lighting podcast, hosts Greg Ehrich, LC, former President of NAILD and owner of Premier Lighting, and Michael Colligan, an entrepreneur and inventor, interview Spencer Miles, President of Pacific Lamp and Supply in Seattle about the state of distribution, UV, circadian lighting, missing social business interaction, and how distributors can survive and even thrive during the pandemic.

In this featured episode of the Get a Grip on Lighting podcast, hosts Greg Ehrich, LC, former President of NAILD and owner of Premier Lighting, and Michael Colligan, an entrepreneur and inventor, interview Spencer Miles, President of Pacific Lamp and Supply in Seattle about the state of distribution, UV, circadian lighting, missing social business interaction, and how distributors can survive and even thrive during the pandemic.

Check it out here:

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Predictions for 2021

COVID, a new president, economic challenges, technological trends. These and more are covered in Inside.Lighting’s list of predictions by a collection of lighting professionals that show what might be in store for our industry in 2021.

COVID, a new president, economic challenges, technological trends. These and more are covered in Inside.Lighting’s list of predictions by a collection of lighting professionals that show what might be in store for our industry in 2021.

I particularly found Inside.Lighting’s own prediction interesting, offered by Principal Al Uszynski:

“Many lighting manufacturers that have relied heavily on the sectors of commercial office, retail and hospitality that didn’t already start implementing a major course-changing pivot to other markets, will struggle mightily in 2021. We will see more brands pursue adjacent businesses like air disinfection, acoustic panels, ‘economy versions’ of existing high end products and alternate sales channels.”

Check out the rest here.

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PNNL’s Gabe Arnold Talks DC Building Microgrids

I recently had the opportunity to interview Gabe Arnold, PE, LC, Senior Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for an article about DC building microgrids for an upcoming issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, the official publication of NECA. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Gabe Arnold, PE, LC, Senior Engineer, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for an article about DC building microgrids for an upcoming issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, the official publication of NECA. Transcript follows. Check out PNNL’s new whitepaper on DC microgrids here.

DiLouie: How would you define DC microgrids?

Arnold: Microgrids are subsections of the larger electric grid with their own power sources such as solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, generators, and/or energy storage batteries. Microgrids can disconnect from the larger grid and continue to operate in what is called “island” mode. Microgrids improve resiliency because they enable the continued supply of electricity when there is an outage on the larger grid. Microgrids can be either direct current (DC), alternating current (AC), or a hybrid of the two. A direct current (DC) microgrid is one in which the power sources and loads within the microgrid are connected using DC rather than AC electricity.

DiLouie: What are the different types of DC microgrids and what types of equipment and connections are installed?

Arnold: Microgrids can be utility scale, community scale, or building scale. A utility scale microgrid may include large fields of solar panels, large battery facilities, or even small power plants that can disconnect from the larger grid and power a portion of the electric grid in the event of a grid outage. Utility scale microgrids are often high voltage distributing power in thousands of volts through transmission and distribution power lines. A community scale microgrid is smaller size and may include solar panels, generators, and/or battery facilities to power a neighborhood or campus in the event of a grid outage, usually at lower voltages than utility scale. A building scale microgrid is smaller further at the individual building or site level. It typically includes on-site solar panels, batteries, and/or generators that can provide power to the building in the event of a grid outage.

The equipment and connections can vary considerably depending on the scale and application of the microgrid. For a building scale microgrid, some type of inverter and controller is usually required to connect the PV and energy storage batteries to the building electrical system and the larger electric grid. These controllers can be off-the-shelf sometimes called “Power Servers”, or they can be assembled from individual components and controlled via software.

DiLouie: What are the prevalent standards? What approaches in terms of standards and equipment appear to show the strongest promise?

Arnold: An organization called the Emerge Alliance has defined standards for DC electricity distributed within buildings using a 380 V DC bus to power larger building loads and 24 or 48 V DC for smaller loads such as lighting and electronics. From a lighting perspective, PNNL’s market research identified 8 lighting manufacturers that offer lighting fixtures that accept these voltages at their input as a standard option, though many more manufacturers could offer fixtures at these voltages through a custom order.

The other relevant standard from a lighting perspective is IEEE 802.3bt for Power-over-Ethernet (PoE). Released in 2018, this standard enables up to 90 watts of power through PoE cabling to power building loads such as lighting. PNNL identified 17 lighting manufacturers offering a wide range of light fixtures that accept PoE at their input. PoE lighting has significant benefits including an existing supply chain and workforce that is already trained on how to install the PoE network cabling, high-speed data capability to support IoT applications, and integration benefits with other systems through the use of TCP/IP communication.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of DC building microgrids? What are ideal applications? Overall, what opportunity do they represent for buildings?

Arnold: The key benefit to microgrids is resiliency, and if it’s a DC building microgrid, there are additional potential benefits including energy savings, reduced costs, and improved equipment reliability. DC building microgrids reduce or eliminate the conversions from DC-to-AC and AC-to-DC required to connect PV panels and energy storage batteries to the increasing number of DC loads in buildings. Eliminating these conversions can save 10-18% energy in a fully DC building microgrid, reduce the cost of the equipment by eliminating the conversion circuitry, and eliminate a common failure point within the equipment. For example, a recent DOE study that implemented accelerated stress testing on LED drivers found that 64% of the drivers failed within the 6,000 hour accelerated testing period, with all failures attributed to the Stage 1 driver circuitry that performs the AC-to-DC conversion. If the conversion circuitry within drivers is eliminated, drivers may cost less and last longer.

The ideal applications for DC building microgrids are buildings where resiliency and/or sustainability are important and where PV and/or energy storage batteries are being installed. The resiliency benefits can help avoid costly downtime for a business or critical facility, and the 10-18% energy savings can help achieve a Zero Energy Building and qualify for special LEED points available to DC power systems.

DiLouie: How does LED lighting, networked lighting controls, and sensors/integration between lighting and other building systems/IoT fit in with DC building microgrids?

Arnold: LED lighting is an inherently DC technology that is well suited to DC microgrids. There are already many LED lighting products available that accept DC at their input. If using PoE, the networking is built-in and one of the key benefits of PoE is its integration and IoT potential. You don’t have to use POE though, and a wireless networked lighting control system can work just as well with DC LED lighting.

DiLouie: There are currently two approaches, one being PoE to move power and data and the other low-voltage distribution (e.g., EMerge Alliance) to move power. Do you see these approaches continuing to coexist, or do you believe they will congeal around a single standard to simplify the market?

Arnold: There are benefits both for the EMerge Alliance and the PoE approaches, and I expect we’ll continue to see them both for the foreseeable future. Though PoE has a lot of momentum and some unique benefits, it may not be the best solution from an energy efficiency perspective. Studies have found that there can be a lot of power losses within the CAT 5/6/7 network cabling and standby power losses within the PoE networking switches. These can be mitigated through larger gauge wire within PoE cabling, shorter cable runs, and improved switch design.

DiLouie: What are current barriers to adoption of DC building microgrids, and how they should they be addressed?

Arnold: This is still an early stage with these technologies, and it will take time to raise awareness, improve the equipment availability, and then educate the workforce in how to apply and install it. Among the biggest barriers we heard is the lack of available equipment that accepts DC at the input – even though the loads are inherently DC. Equipment manufacturers continue to include AC-to-DC converters at the equipment input. This is a chicken-and-egg scenario whereby equipment manufacturers are unwilling to divert resources to develop DC input equipment without a significant market to support it, and that market will not develop without more equipment choices and competition. The way forward is to start with the technologies and applications with the most compelling value propositions, or where there is already available equipment. LED lighting is a great example. Electric vehicle chargers are another. These can help build the case and gain experience towards fully DC building microgrids.

DiLouie: What’s in it for the electrical contractor? What kind of opportunities are developing for them?

Arnold: As we move towards smarter and more sustainable buildings, these new technologies will be needed, and we’ll need trained contractors to install them. PoE is a great example, I expect we’ll see a lot more of it. Now that PoE can power building loads up to 90 watts, there are a lot more loads within the building that may move in this direction over conventional AC wiring. Electrical contractors would be well-served to become familiar with installing PoE technologies.

DiLouie: What is the legislative climate for requiring a licensed electrician for installing PoE systems, and what does this mean for the electrical contracting community?

Arnold: Since the finalization of the 2018 PoE standard that enabled 90 watts to be carried through PoE cabling, a turf war of sorts has emerged. PoE is considered Class 2 low-voltage by the National Electric Code. It is safer, does not require conduit, and may have lower licensing requirements for its installation in some jurisdictions. Industry advocacy groups have gotten involved and in 2019 legislation was introduced in 22 states that would effectively require PoE to be installed by fully licensed electricians. Most of this legislation stalled or changed and it remains to be seen if or how licensing requirements may change for PoE installations. Regardless of the outcome, this indicates the potential growth expected with PoE systems in powering other loads within buildings, including lighting.

DiLouie: What extension opportunities are available for electrical contractors, such as integration and IoT?

Arnold: We’ll continue to see more movement to smart buildings and you can’t have a smart building without integrating your building systems together. We expect integration of lighting with HVAC and building management systems, security systems, industrial systems, and with new applications enabled by IoT. In fact, the Department of Energy has just launched a national campaign around this called the Integrated Lighting Campaign. I encourage readers to check it out at www.integratedlightingcampaign.energy.gov. The need and demand for system integrators to integrate these systems will continue to grow and this may be a good opportunity for electrical contractors to pursue.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry only one thing about integrating lighting with DC microgrids, what would it be?

Arnold: Though it is relatively early stages of these technologies, I would encourage industry to collaborate in the development of standards where possible. The proliferation of proprietary solutions can work against the integration opportunities and slow the overall market adoption of these beneficial technologies.

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NLB’s Randy Reid Talks Warranties

I recently had the opportunity to interview Randy Reid, Executive Director, National Lighting Bureau (NLB) on the topic of the NLB’s new Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program for an article for tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Here’s the transcript.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Randy Reid, Executive Director, National Lighting Bureau (NLB) on the topic of the NLB’s new Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program for an article for tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED.

Launched in 2020, this program audits warranties from manufacturer applicants in a points-based system. Qualifying warranties may carry the Trusted Warranty label, signifying the warranty satisfies the program’s criteria covering accessibility, internal support, clarity, relation of terms to reliability testing, warranty insurance based on length of warranty compared to years in business, and responsiveness to warranty claims.

Here’s the transcript:

DiLouie: What was the market need for the NLB Trusted Warranty Program? Why was this program developed? What’s in it for electrical distributors?

Reid: Great question. There are companies, some of which are new, that have great innovative products and the market has been reluctant to use products from unfamiliar manufacturers.  By offering a trusted warranty, we hope to put the market at ease that a particular product, and the company, can be trusted. There are also a few bad actors who do not stand behind their warranty and it will be difficult for those companies to achieve our high standards.  When warranty issues occur, the electrical distributor is usually caught in the middle and many times has to absorb the cost of the warranty especially for some strategic customers.    The Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is meant to give the electrical distributor assurance that the manufacture will take care of their warranty issues.

DiLouie: What are the results so far? How many companies have signed up?

Reid: We halted the program before it began in March because of COVID and are only now relaunching it.  We have three evaluations that are in beta now and we are scheduling dozens of evaluations in DEC and early 2021.

DiLouie: How should electrical distributors use the program during their vendor and product evaluations?

Reid: Today, we hope that our channel partners (distributors, contractors, and lighting designers) will simply begin acknowledging the program.  In 2021 we hope to see soft language such as “XYZ Distributor prefers lighting products recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.”  In 2022, we hope to see language, “XYZ Distributor buys the majority of lighting products from companies recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.”  In 2023, we hope that distributors will actually specify that that their lighting products MUST carry the NLB’s Trusted Warranty seal of approval.  Basically it is a three-year roll out.

DiLouie: If you could say only one thing to all electrical distributors about the Trusted Warranty program, what would it be?

Reid: One of the main goals of the Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is to lower the inherent risk that electrical distributors ultimately face regarding warranty costs.

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

Reid: Because this is a new program it comes down to a push-pull philosophy.  We need manufacturers to be audited before distributors and lighting designers can fully utilize the program.  Yet, distributors and lighting designers need to request Trusted Warranty products in an effort to push the manufacturers to request the audit. That is why we are requesting distributors to begin the soft push from where manufacturers can see the potential demand.

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Signify’s Rahul Shira Talks Tunable-White Lighting

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify US, for an article about tunable-white lighting I developed for tED Magazine. This is the transcript.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify US, for an article about tunable-white lighting I developed for tED Magazine. This is the transcript.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for tunable-white lighting?

Shira: There is a lot of interest around tunable-white lighting. This interest is fueled by increased adoption of the Well Building standard and with more research demonstrating the positive impact tunable-white lighting can have on our moods and productivity.

It’s still a developing market though. More awareness and education needs to be done around the end-user benefits and how to quantify those benefits.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for circadian-friendly lighting designs? Has the COVID pandemic spurred more interest in wellness and lighting’s role in it?

Shira: The COVID pandemic has certainly spurred interest around designing for health and wellness. Keeping employees healthy is a major workplace concern. There is significant interest in UVC lighting, as it is well-proven as an effective disinfectant. Companies can also use connected lighting infrastructure to make informed decisions about space management and guiding employees through a facility in line with physical distancing measures. Designers are exploring technologies like tunable-white lighting to comply with Well Building standards.

DiLouie: What role does color spectrum specifically play in circadian regulation?

Shira: Lighting has a profound effect on how we feel and how we function. It affects how productive we are, how comfortable we feel and how well we sleep.

These non-visual effects of light are strongly driven by ipRGC photoreceptors in the retina. Due to the sensitivity curve of the ipRGC, the spectrum of light plays an important role in circadian regulation and our natural rhythms. Scientific publications suggest that light with more energy in the short-wavelength range (approximately 450-530 nm) is more effective for orchestrating our natural rhythms.

DiLouie: What is the full functionality that tunable-white luminaires offer to support circadian lighting designs?

Shira: Signify offers tunable-white luminaires in our Daybrite, Ledalite and Lightolier brands. These luminaires are capable of CCT variations between 2700K to 6500K, and are packaged with compatible Dynalite controls, so they can be configured to various modes that support circadian lighting designs. These include:

  • Dynamic mode – Allows you to automatically mimic daylight patterns by adjusting the color temperature and brightness with respect to the time of day.
  • Scene-setting mode – Offers four different pre-sets – Standard, Presentation, Focus and Calm – to instantly set the scene for room ambiance or support scheduled tasks or spontaneous activity. These light scenes have been proven to help people stay focused and alert; they can also be altered and customized to suit your unique needs.
  • Person-control mode – Allows you to easily change LED intensities and CCT from warm white (2700K) all the way to cool daylight (6500K).

DiLouie: Otherwise, what role can tunable-white lighting play in promoting occupant mood, satisfaction, and well-being?

Shira: We recommend reading this customer story here. Innogy in the Czech Republic used tunable-white lighting to mimic natural daylight at the beginning of the day, providing a useful energy boost. It then decreased light levels until after lunch and gave this same boost with brighter light to help staff combat the mid-afternoon slump.

DiLouie: A challenge of plugging tunable-white lighting into a circadian design is that circadian stimulation may be more closely related to spectral profile than CCT. Do you agree this is an issue, and if so, how is your company and the industry in general addressing it to adapt the technology to circadian lighting?

Shira: The intent of circadian lighting is to support users’ natural rhythm or body clocks. To meet the intent of circadian lighting the industry can leverage different technologies – CCT, spectral tuning, intensity, light distribution, timing and duration or with a combination of multiple technologies. What’s important to remember is that delivering visual and non-visual illumination is application environment dependent. It is unlikely for a single technology to have the highest impact across applications. Signify works closely with its customers to balance its technology choices and to ensure its effectiveness for that customer segment, based on the customer’s energy-savings goals, cost considerations, and end-user satisfaction and comfort.

DiLouie: Currently, there are two specifications for circadian lighting, one promoted by UL/LRC and the other by the WELL Building Standard. What are the metrics these use, and how do they primarily differ? What do they offer the industry?

Shira: Both institutions use metrics that try to quantify the impact of lighting on melatonin suppression based on lighting in the vertical illumination plane (in other words, the amount of light entering the eye). Both of these metrics use spectral distribution as their foundation to determine the overall impact, but there are technical differences between the two metrics, which is best explained in this IES article.

LRC’s model provides the design community with an intuitive tool for effective lighting design. The WELL Building Standard, on the other hand, provides a certification to buildings by recognizing and rewarding those who invest in occupant wellbeing similar to what LEED certification does for those who invest in sustainability.

At Signify, for circadian lighting, we follow the quantification guidelines set out by the CIE and embraced by the scientific world.

DiLouie: How does circadian lighting in general and tunable-white lighting installations in particular differ from typical lighting designs, and what can distributors do to support the process to ensure good outcomes?

Shira: Typical lighting designs focus on visual comfort and energy-savings levels in line with building codes and user expectations.

Tunable-white lighting design principles tend to consume more energy, as they target on delivering higher vertical illumination levels to trigger the right stimulation. These fixtures also need to be specified with compatible controls platforms to ensure that CCT and intensity variations can be managed effectively.

Distributors can help guide end-user customers on their lighting decisions, and advise them on how to shift their focus from energy savings-based ROI and take advantage of a combination of energy and occupant wellness-based justifications. Moreover, distributors can add value by promoting qualified tunable-white lighting packages between fixtures providers and controls providers, with the understanding that manufacturers that offer both elements have robust and consistent performance and are capable of dealing with the complexity of CCT, intensity and spectral tuning.

DiLouie: What can distributors do to position their firms to promote and sell tunable-white lighting? What should they do to sell or prepare to sell circadian lighting solutions?

Shira: Tunable white is a technology that is controls dependent. Customers who are investing in wellness programs will not limit their scope to just one technology feature, and will most likely consider solutions that offer much more such as connectivity and being IoT-ready. These decisions are expected to deliver long-term results, and end users are looking for trusted partners who can assist and team up with them in their transition journey.

Therefore, distributors should consider acquiring new talent or skillsets  around modern controls and systems to proactively get ahead of and be able to manage future trends as well as have constructive dialogues with their clients, positioning themselves as trusted partners.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about tunable-white lighting’s role in circadian lighting, what would it be?

Shira: Circadian lighting benefits can be realized with multiple strategies (CCT variations, intensity & timing, spectral tuning, etc.). There is no universal rule that fits all. Choosing the right strategy will depend on the application space and target group. Moreover, implementing these strategies typically result in more energy consumption, so financial ROI justifications for tunable white lighting should not be completely based on LED & controls savings but rather incorporate benefits like employee wellbeing, satisfaction and engagement, and talent retention and attraction.

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Hubbell’s David Venhaus on Tunable-White Lighting

I recently had the opportunity to interview David Venhaus, Manager of Training and Curriculum Development in the Lighting Solutions Center at Hubbell Lighting, for an article about tunable-white lighting that will be published in the November 2020 issue of tED Magazine. Here’s the transcript.

I recently had the opportunity to interview David Venhaus, Manager of Training and Curriculum Development in the Lighting Solutions Center at Hubbell Lighting, for an article about tunable-white lighting that will be published in the November 2020 issue of tED Magazine. Here’s the transcript.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for tunable-white lighting?

Venhaus: Curiosity is high but adoption is moderate as more lighting designers gain an understanding of the application and value of tunable white.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for circadian-friendly lighting designs? Has the COVID pandemic spurred more interest in wellness and lighting’s role in it?

Venhaus: Designers are applying tunable white in education, healthcare and higher-end commercial suites, where the circadian effects or the aesthetic has value. COVID is driving more interest in disinfection options like UV-C or 405nm visible blue disinfection lights.

DiLouie: What role does color spectrum specifically play in circadian regulation?

Venhaus: More and more information is pointing to proper spectral power distribution (SPD) being a key factor in circadian and humancentric designs.

DiLouie: What is the full functionality that tunable-white luminaires offer to support circadian lighting designs?

Venhaus: Typically, the luminaires themselves will be configured to deliver a range of CCTs using a second 0-10V control signal. In the case of warm dim, this range is usually 3000K to 1800K with the dim signal permanently linked to the main dim signal, so the warm dim effect happens with no additional controls other than the single 0-10V dim input.

Tunable white will separate the two inputs, with one to dim the luminaire and another to control the color temperature. In most cases the color temperature range is 2700K-5000K or 2700-6500K, however that varies by manufacturer.

Keep in mind these two inputs can be tied to other lighting controls allowing preset scenes and scheduled control of the color temperature and light levels in a space.

DiLouie: Otherwise, what role can tunable-white lighting play in promoting occupant mood, satisfaction, and well-being?

Venhaus: Research shows tunable white has the potential to be a valuable tool for lighting designers to affect the user experience within a space. This applies whether meeting the WELL Building Standard, LRC guidelines, or self-imposed targets.

DiLouie: A challenge of plugging tunable-white lighting into a circadian design is that circadian stimulation may be more closely related to spectral profile than CCT. Do you agree this is an issue, and if so, how is your company and the industry in general addressing it to adapt the technology to circadian lighting?

Venhaus: There is evidence that points to Spectral Power Distribution (SPD) playing a vital role in circadian stimulation, with an emphasis on bringing a “flatter” SPD curve that more closely simulates daylight at cooler color temperatures. Many of the emitter manufacturers have offered products that deliver this. It’s now up to the luminaire manufacturers to incorporate these into their products.

DiLouie: Currently, there are two specifications for circadian lighting, one promoted by UL/LRC and the other by the WELL Building Standard. What are the metrics these use, and how do they primarily differ? What do they offer the industry?

Venhaus: Both offer similar end goals – delivering the correct amount as well as quality of light at various times of the day.

DiLouie: What is the impact tunable-white lighting can have on adherence to these requirements?

Venhaus: Tunable white helps enhance the “quality” portion of the equation. In addition, by tuning the CCT less total light is potentially needed to meet a specific requirement.

DiLouie: How does circadian lighting in general and tunable-white lighting installations in particular differ from typical lighting designs, and what can distributors do to support the process to ensure good outcomes?

Venhaus: Tunable white solutions typically require a more sophisticated control system to deliver the best user experience. Continuing education and training is critical for all parties involved.

DiLouie: What can distributors do to position their firms to promote and sell tunable-white lighting? What should they do to sell or prepare to sell circadian lighting solutions?

Venhaus: Begin by investing time and resources into education for the sales staff so they can better understand the design methods used by the specifier. Specifically, why they chose the solution deployed and how to best ensure the proper installation, commissioning and use.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about tunable-white lighting’s role in circadian lighting, what would it be?

Venhaus: Invest the time, energy and resources to establish a solid baseline understanding of the latest developments in tunable white technology. Get familiar with the technology in the luminaires and the control systems used. And make sure you understand how the final end user interface works because this is the key to a successful user experience.

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Cree’s Jeff Hungarter on Tunable White

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Hungarter, Commercial Indoor Director, Cree Lighting, on the topic of tunable-white lighting, focusing on its potential intersection with circadian health. The interview informed an article I wrote for the November 2020 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Hungarter, Commercial Indoor Director, Cree Lighting, on the topic of tunable-white lighting, focusing on its potential intersection with circadian health. The interview informed an article I wrote for the November 2020 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for tunable-white lighting?

Hungarter: The demand tunable white is just starting to climb the curve for being specified and driven into lighting projects. There is lots of interest and education going on, but we still see many times it’s the first item “Value Engineered” out when budgets get tight. Across many verticals, they like the idea, but don’t want to pay for it.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for circadian-friendly lighting designs? Has the COVID pandemic spurred more interest in wellness and lighting’s role in it?

Hungarter: Lots of interests and questions about circadian lighting design, but I would not say we have seen a spike in demand for these types of products. COVID has spun more interest in disinfectant lighting than Circadian or tunable white lighting by far. The market is struggling to keep customers, patients, and students safe, so naturally they are gravitating to the “assumed” benefits of what disinfectant lighting can provide, but we should use caution in understanding the tradeoffs of these varying solutions.

DiLouie: What role does color spectrum specifically play in circadian regulation?

Hungarter: Color spectrum plays a big role in Circadian regulation, but not the only one. Entrainment also requires a balanced combination of the correct luminous intensity, distribution, and duration of light, among other variables, to have a meaningful impact.

DiLouie: What is the full functionality that tunable-white luminaires offer to support circadian lighting designs?

Hungarter: As mentioned above, tunable white systems need to be able to support not just changing color spectrum, but also have the ability to dynamically change in intensity and duration during the day. We must also take into account the amount of light that is getting to the eye which is critical, so light distribution of the fixture also plays a role.

DiLouie: Otherwise, what role can tunable-white lighting play in promoting occupant mood, satisfaction, and well-being?

Hungarter: Well, if implemented correctly, tunable white solutions can enhance people’s moods by giving them a touchstone to the outside world, especially in places where they have no access to windows or sunlight. In combination with other design elements like ergonomic furniture and enhanced air quality can really influence the well-being of the people in the space.

DiLouie: A challenge of plugging tunable-white lighting into a circadian design is that circadian stimulation may be more closely related to spectral profile than CCT. Do you agree this is an issue, and if so, how is your company and the industry in general addressing it to adapt the technology to circadian lighting?

Hungarter: I think the industry is still learning a lot about circadian lighting design and how it affects people differently. In our Cadiant Dynamic Skylight, while we designed to mimic the spectral content of a natural day, the software behind it is flexible so as we learn more about what is needed for circadian lighting we can adapt our fixture to meet those needs.

DiLouie: Currently, there are two specifications for circadian lighting, one promoted by UL/LRC and the other by the WELL Building Standard. What are the metrics these use, and how do they primarily differ? What do they offer the industry?

Hungarter: There are lots of discussions in the lighting design world about the various measuring metrics. Both have the starting base that multiple photoreceptors in the eyes send signals which can trigger varying responses. While they may differ in “the how”, the research and development of these and other studies all help bring attention and education of how important light and other design elements can support health and well-being.

DiLouie: What is the impact tunable-white lighting can have on adherence to these requirements?

Hungarter: Tunable white lighting can play a large role to help meet the standards as we learn more about the benefits and educate ourselves to “do no harm”. We’ve heard many a lighting designer say, “I don’t want to prescribe light, I’m not a doctor”, so we must be careful here if we are attempting a true circadian design and bring in those who understand the science of health and well-being.

DiLouie: How does circadian lighting in general and tunable-white lighting installations in particular differ from typical lighting designs, and what can distributors do to support the process to ensure good outcomes?

Hungarter: In many typical lighting designs, you may be just replacing an existing fixture and have limited ability to change much of the design layout. With tunable white and circadian lighting designs, you would want to make sure the design is well thought out and factors like the range of color spectrum, amount of light able to get to the eye, and how the light distribution patterns and intensity change throughout the day are accounted for, to just name a few.

DiLouie: What can distributors do to position their firms to promote and sell tunable-white lighting? What should they do to sell or prepare to sell circadian lighting solutions?

Hungarter: Above all they should educate themselves on what solution they are providing. There are many lighting designs that simply want a tunable white system to give people a connection to the outside world. Offering circadian lighting solutions without proper education and research is dangerous and unethical.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about tunable-white lighting’s role in circadian lighting, what would it be?

Hungarter: Don’t be fooled, tunable white lighting is not circadian lighting. Tunable white will/can play an integral role as we gain more research and learn about where circadian lighting is going, but research and education are going to be key as we drive health and well-being into current and future lighting designs.

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

Hungarter: Do your homework! While there are lots of benefits to tunable white light, there’s much to be done to understand circadian lighting and its effects on health and well-being.

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Acuity’s Gary Trott on Filtered Far UV-C Disinfection

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Trott, Vice President – Technology Commercialization, Acuity Brands Lighting, about filtered far UV-C disinfection for an article I wrote for the December issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gary Trott, Vice President – Technology Commercialization, Acuity Brands Lighting, about filtered far UV-C disinfection for an article I wrote for the December issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Acuity has entered a strategic partnership deal with Ushio to incorporate filtered far UV-C modules into select general lighting luminaires, which will be available in late 2020. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: What kinds of organisms is 222nm filtered far-UVC effective against and in what form (aerosol, droplets, fomites)?

Trott: 222nm far-UVC is effective against a wide range of bacterial and viral pathogens (99.9% reduction in pathogenic bioburden in 24 hours for studied pathogens). It penetrates the outer layers of the structure of a pathogen to render it harmless. With bacteria, DNA is disrupted. With viruses, RNA is disrupted. In both cases, vital functions are disrupted, stopping the ability of the pathogen to replicate.

As a side note, effectiveness of 222nm filtered far-UVC against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19, is currently under study at Columbia University. Because tests of the 222nm disinfection technology against this virus have not been completed, it is not possible to say with certainty that the 222nm wavelength will inactivate this pathogen. However, the 222nm filtered far-UVC disinfection technology has been shown in another study by Columbia University, recently published by Scientific Reports, to have the ability to inactivate seasonal coronaviruses that have a viral structure similar to SARS-CoV-2.

Editor’s note: Since this interview, a research study was published that indicated efficacy of far-UVC against SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory (in vitro) experiment.

DiLouie: Why are luminaires a suitable or even ideal platform for introducing 222nm far-UVC-based disinfection into a space?

Trott: Because lighting is necessary for occupied spaces, integrating 222nm filtered far-UVC delivery capabilities into lighting systems in spaces where reduction of infectious pathogens is desired makes practical sense. Using luminaires as a delivery system allows facilities to take advantage of locations where power is already distributed and can be seamlessly integrated into an architectural lighting design. This enables the disinfection technology to be added to necessary illumination as an additional layer of functionality that can take advantage of the luminaire’s intelligent lighting control capabilities. The disinfection technology layer will operate autonomously and independently from the illumination functions to provide protection against infectious pathogens throughout the day. Acuity Brands will be incorporating the Care222® filtered far-UVC disinfection modules from Ushio America in novel and familiar luminaires from its lighting brands such as Mark Architectural Lighting™, Lithonia Lighting®, Healthcare Lighting®, and others.

DiLouie: Is 222nm filtered far-UVC enough or is it recommended with a multibarrier (regular cleaning, social distancing) approach?

Trott: The 222nm far-UVC technology, when filtered correctly, can contribute significantly toward reducing the pathogenic bioburden on indoor surfaces in occupied and unoccupied spaces when properly designed, installed, and applied. At the same time, this technology’s effectiveness requires surfaces to be exposed to the 222nm filtered far-UVC, and it will not be effective at reducing the pathogenic bioburden on surfaces hidden from direct view such as the underside of a desk or table or surfaces that are covered with dust or dirt. The best practices for disinfecting a space and protecting occupants from exposure to infectious pathogens moving forward will continue to include using a comprehensive approach using multiple, proven tactics.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of installing luminaires featuring 222nm Filtered far-UVC capability?

Trott: As previously mentioned, integrating 222nm filtered far-UVC delivery capabilities into lighting systems where reduction of infectious pathogens is desired makes practical sense. Using luminaires as a delivery system allows facilities to take advantage of locations where power is already distributed. This enables the disinfection technology to be added to necessary illumination as an additional layer of functionality that can take advantage of the luminaire’s intelligent lighting control capabilities. The disinfection technology layer will operate autonomously and independently from the illumination functions to kill pathogens throughout the day. The Care222 technology operates intelligently to deliver a dose of UV within established safety guidelines at a pre-programmed rate throughout the day. Integral to the system are mechanisms to indicate proper operation, giving facilities and occupants assurance that the UV disinfection system is maintaining its effectiveness.

DiLouie: What are the applications for 222nm Filtered far-UVC technology?

Trott: Any inanimate surface that can be directly irradiated can benefit from the pathogenic bioburden reduction provided by 222nm filtered far-UVC light. When used in luminaires deployed in general lighting systems, the technology will offer an additional barrier against infectious pathogens on surfaces in all types of high-interaction applications, including offices, conference rooms, meeting spaces, classrooms, public restrooms, restaurants/hospitality, performing arts and sports events, public transit, retail, health clubs, and certain healthcare settings.

DiLouie: What are the applications for 222nm filtered far-UVC technology within these spaces? Is it primarily surface-focused or will it also be used for upper-room disinfection?

Trott: In general, UVC wavelengths can clean both air and surfaces within limits. In order to be effective, the UV light must strike the pathogens for a sufficient length of time at the requisite power density to deliver the lethal dose necessary to inactivate the pathogens. On a surface, pathogens are stationary, and the necessary dose can be more readily predicted for a given application. However, airborne pathogens float in the air and may move outside of the UV beam. Only if an airborne pathogen remains in the beam for a sufficient timeframe can it be inactivated. 222nm filtered far-UVC is intended for direct view applications where occupants can be present in the room and it is not the best choice for applications where occupancy is not required. Another option to address airborne pathogens is to include an air handling unit that incorporates UVC. Because the UVC source is occluded, technologies that are not considered safe for direct view applications (namely 254nm UV) can be used, enabling lethal dosages of UV to be delivered quickly and efficiently to pathogens that are drawn into the air handling equipment. 254nm technology is also viable for upper-room air disinfection where there is no direct view by occupants of the UV light.

DiLouie: Please walk us through a typical space and how the visible light and 222-UV module would work together. How is the separate lamping controlled?

Trott: For Acuity Brands, the patented Care222 module from Ushio America that delivers filtered, 222nm far-UVC light will be specially engineered, and UL tested for multiple luminaire families. The luminaire layout and number of modules required will depend on the specification and related calculations. The luminaires with the module installed will pulse the 222nm light — using our luminaire’s intelligent control capabilities — using ongoing dosing for occupied spaces based on current safety guidelines for human occupancy, as established by the American Conference of governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®)

In general, for a UV disinfection system to be effective, several factors come into play: determining the proper UV light wavelength (not all UV light is equal); the pathogens you want to target; where reduction of disease causing pathogens is desired; and where people will be in a space. And then there a series of steps to follow in designing an effective UV disinfection system, much like the approach we take for designing a lighting system. The added step here is to understand the potential level of exposure (the dose) of UV and relating that dose to expected pathogen reduction and adherence to safety guidelines for a given UV wavelength technology.

DiLouie: What do electrical contractors need to know about these luminaires to recommend, safely install, and assist with maintenance?

Trott: Acuity Brands luminaires featuring our filtered far-UVC disinfection technology will come factory calibrated per the calculations performed at the time of specification using our Visual® software. The luminaires should be then installed in the space per the design with all of the appropriate parameters verified in the field.

DiLouie: We are all hoping to be living in a post-COVID world soon. Do you believe building owners will adopt at least a somewhat permanent disinfection stance in their buildings?

Trott: Yes, we believe disinfection protocols will become more standard practice for building owners. COVID-19, as well as those viruses and bacteria that give rise to flus, the common cold and other ailments, will continue to be a part of our everyday working and living environments, and occupants will want and, in some cases, insist that disinfection best practices are in place. And this falls in line with the trend that was already emerging where occupants and tenants alike have been asking for more individual control over lighting, HVAC, and other building systems to enhance comfort and improve efficiencies.

DiLouie: If you could tell all electrical contractors one thing about 222-UV disinfection, what would it be?

Trott: Study up on this technology as much as possible through training modules and other sources, ask questions and partner with credible, knowledgeable manufacturing partners and design professionals who can provide technical assistance when working with your customers.

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Future of Lighting Series

The Lighting Research Center has published a series of videos at its YouTube channel in which its experts talk about the future of lighting in the COVID era and beyond.

The Lighting Research Center has published a series of videos at its YouTube channel in which its experts talk about the future of lighting in the COVID era and beyond.

Check out all the videos here.

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