Aug 092011

The Environmental Protection Agency launched its first National Building Competition in April 2010.  Fourteen buildings across the country competed to see who could reduce their energy use the most in a year.  The winner was Morrison Residence Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a reduction in energy use of 35.7 percent.  Among a number of strategies, the residence hall retrofitted their lighting, replacing 54-watt CFLs with 13-watt CFLs.

In this year’s “Battle of the Buildings, ” 245 buildings across the nation are competing for the energy-saving challenge.  So far, the 245 buildings have already saved a cumulative $3.7 million in energy costs and cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to what 2,300 homes would generate in a year.

It’s at the midway point (the winners will be announced November 2), and the EPA has announced the top contenders in each building category and their percentage of energy reduction to date.  Another residence hall from UNC-Chapel Hill is in the mix, but there are quite a few buildings ahead of them! Continue reading »

Jun 102011

Earlier this week, I wrote a couple of posts describing the features of cold cathode fluorescent light bulbs.  CCFLs are not new to the lighting world, but their technology has improved significantly over the past few years, and they are an excellent option for energy-efficient lighting.  We have been adding over 20 different models of CCFLs to, so this week has been a “CCFL debut” on the blog.

To read about the basic technology that differentiates CCFLs from standard CFLs and other light bulbs, catch up with this post.

In short, CCFLs are extremely durable in design, which gives them very unique dimming capabilities.  Fluorescent lighting typically does not perform well with dimming.  However, CCFLs can be dimmed down to 5% of their light output without diminishing lifetime. Continue reading »

Dec 152010

The bar for green building standards has been raised.

Any new federal construction or major renovation will now be required to achieve LEED Gold Certification.  (Previously, LEED Silver was the requirement).

Roger Peck, the commissioner of public buildings for the U.S. General Services Administration, said “This new requirement is just one of the many ways we’re greening the federal real estate inventory to help … increase sustainability and energy efficiency across government.”

LEED Certification is a standardized measure of energy efficiency that involves a number of evaluation categories.  Projects receive credit for the lighting category by installing ENERGY STAR®- labeled light fixtures, lamps and ceiling fans.

 Posted by on December 15, 2010 at 8:21 am
Oct 122010

Track lights are one of the most versatile lighting systems because the individual fixtures can be positioned anywhere along the track and then swiveled, rotated, and aimed in any direction.  It’s possible to create a variety of different effects, and you can tailor the lights to best accentuate your room.

However, this also means it’s hard to know where to start!  Consider this your how-to guide for using track lights to create the perfect effect.

First, you’ll need to decide what type of light you want the track fixtures to provide.  Track lights are typically used in one of three ways:

  • Accent lighting, highlighting a particular object such as a work of art.
  • Wall washing, evenly illuminating a wall.  Should be used for non-textured vertical surfaces.
  • Wall grazing, dramatically highlighting the texture in a wall.  Should be used for textured vertical surfaces like brick, stone, or draperies.

Continue reading »

 Posted by on October 12, 2010 at 10:00 am
Sep 222010

One of our customers used xenon low voltage puck lights to help illuminate a booth display at the Baltimore Craft Show of the American Craft Council.

Experts say that proper lighting at your exhibit will directly impact your success at trade shows.  It’s all about calling attention to your offer with an illuminating display that draws in attendees.  Before heading to your next trade show, assess your lighting inventory.  Making a small update to improve your display might be the key to improving upon last year’s numbers.

So, where should you start?  First of all, make sure you are using several different types of lighting for the display.  The variety will make your exhibit more interesting and professional-looking, especially if the lighting is coming from two or three directions.

In addition to the standard display lights that create focal points through spotlighting, incorporate accent lighting by using rope lights or track lights.  If you use track lighting, you can easily attach colored glass filters to the lights.  Some of the best exhibits use colored lighting to add depth and excitement to the display. Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 22, 2010 at 2:25 pm
Sep 202010

The Las Vegas Convention Center is one of the largest venues for trade shows in the world, and customers frequently ask which display lights are approved for use there.

If you’re attending a show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, use this post as your guideline for appropriate lighting.  If you’re attending a trade show at any other venue, make sure to check the lighting policies beforehand.  You don’t want to be scrambling to find new lights for your booth at the last minute.  According to Bruce Baker, a booth design expert, proper lighting will boost sales more than any other item you can purchase for your exhibit. Continue reading »

 Posted by on September 20, 2010 at 10:00 am
Aug 022010

You probably didn’t notice what type of light was illuminating the last exit sign you saw.  If you’re a building/business owner, start paying attention.

If your exit signs are currently lit by incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, you can save hundreds of dollars by switching to LED exit signs.

The first exit signs were lit by incandescent bulbs, and this type continues to be popular in commercial buildings because of low bulb cost.  However, these are the same incandescent bulbs that burn out quickly, use a ton of energy, emit heat, and are set to be banned in 2012 by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Fluorescent-lit exit signs are certainly more energy efficient than incandescent, but they work the same way: both sides of an exit fixture are backlit from the inside.  This provides for uneven illumination.  In addition, bulbs still need to be changed fairly frequently, and the cost of replacement bulbs is high.

LED exit signs might be a slightly higher initial investment, but reduced maintenance costs, energy savings, and overall performance makes the switch well worth it for business owners.  Check out this Cost Comparison Table completed by the North Carolina Department of Commerce (“Energy Efficiency for Restaurants: LED Exit Signs” fact sheet):

Fixture Type Typical  Wattage  (watts) Bulb  Life (years) Annual Bulb  + Labor Cost Purchase +  Install Cost Annual      Energy  Cost 1st Year  Cost 10th Year  Cost  Savings
Incandescent (existing) 40 0.5 $26 0 $39 $65
Fluorescent (existing) 11 1.0 $27 0 $11 $38 $269
LED (new installation) 2 10+ $0 $20 + $25 $2 $47 $581

Continue reading »

Jun 152010

It’s not often that a new product or trend represents a true win-win for both consumers and businesses, but this is one of those rare occasions.

LED lighting in refrigerated display cases is quickly being adopted by food retail stores across the globe. It’s more direct, uniform, and bright lighting than the old fluorescents, making it more attractive for consumers. It slashes energy and maintenance costs, making it more affordable for retailers.

With a steady rise in electricity costs in an industry where profit margins are relatively low, food retail stores are quickly adopting a technology that proves to substantially reduce operational costs. Utility rebates have also made the product more attractive to retailers.

It’s certainly no small change. By installing LED lighting in refrigerated glass door displays, stores can cut energy consumption by up to 60 percent. Fluorescent lighting emits much more heat than LED lighting and as a result operates best at 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. In a refrigerated environment, fluorescent light output drops and more energy is expended to keep the case cold.

This year, BJ’s Wholesale Club will install LED lighting in its refrigerated display cases at 68 of its locations.

May 142010

Pike Research recently released a report discussing expectations for energy efficient lighting in commercial markets.  According to their report, commercial solid-state lighting systems have declined in cost (and will continue to do so), making them a reasonable option for projects.  The initial investment will no longer be a roadblock for energy efficient lighting.  Federal and local government initiatives for installing LEDs and retrofits will further encourage the shift.

Lighting makes up about 17.5% of global electricity use.  In the US, the majority of it is consumed in commercial buildings. Given that the Department of Energy reported earlier this year that Americans could collectively save $120 billion by switching to LEDs, the Pike Research results come as welcome news!

The report includes a 10-year forecast for lighting sales in the U.S. across 10 different technology categories.  It also analyzes the performance requirements for various lighting applications and assesses the current and future options.  To view an Executive Summary, go to the Pike Research website.

Mar 222010

Chances are, you’ve never given much thought to the EXIT sign.  It’s a ubiquitous icon in America for “this way to safety”, hanging familiarly in every public building.  An article in Slate this month called question to the logic of the sign.  After all, the rest of the world uses an emergency sign that is opposite in every way.  Green instead of red, an image rather than text, the sign is an International Organization for Standardization symbol that most countries adopted years ago.  It was created in the 1970s by a Japanese designer and selected by the ISO in 1985.  Informally, it’s called “the running man.”

And doesn’t it make sense?  The fact that it’s a pictogram means it can be understood in any language.  The color green has historically represented safety, something to turn to when in danger.  Red, in contrast, is typically the universal sign for “stop”, “alert”, or “don’t touch.”
Continue reading »

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