The Future of Commercial LED Lighting

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.

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This Way to Safety?

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.”

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LEED Certification for Commercial Interiors

Last week, we provided an overview of LEED Certification and described the process of certifying a home as an example.  We wanted to provide an example of performance standards in a commercial building as well.

LEED for Commercial Interiors can be used to certify the design and construction of tenant spaces for office, restaurant, healthcare, hotel/resort, and education buildings of all sizes, both public and private.

This system was designed for those who want to create sustainable spaces but don’t have control over the entire building’s operations.  Certification requires a minimum of 40 points from a specific checklist.  50 points and above earn an additional LEED Silver accreditation; 60 points and above, Gold; 80 points and above, Platinum.

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Ronald McDonald is Going Green

A McDonald’s in Cary, NC has more in mind than making great hamburgers.  In early 2009, the franchise in the Saltbox Village shopping center demolished its building in hopes of starting from the ground up to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

The store now saves on energy by using 78 percent less electricity for lighting.  It is 97 percent lit with LED lights, covering the kitchen, hallways, restrooms, dining areas, entryways, and even the drive-thru.  It also conserves water with low-flow toilets and planned landscaping with native plants.

The U.S. Green Building Council granted LEED certification in January, making the Cary franchise the first McDonald’s in North Carolina that has “gone green.”  In fact, there are only two other LEED-certified McDonald’s in the country, located in Savannah, GA and Chicago, IL.

In a recent Lighting Roundup, we mentioned a few articles predicting 2010 will be the year for LEDs to explode on the commercial and residential market.  Perhaps restaurants seeking LEED certification with more energy-efficient lighting will become a trend as well.

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What is LEED Certification?

LEED is an international green building certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC): a non-profit organization with a mission to transform the building environment.  It’s one of the few standardized measures of energy efficiency.  Both commercial and residential buildings can obtain LEED Certification.  The process takes into account strategies used throughout the building process: from the first designs to maintenance and repair.

Essentially, it’s a points system.  Depending on the type of building, i.e., school, retail, home, healthcare, etc., a project must earn a certain number of minimum points for certification.  To give you an example, I’ll go through the process of gaining LEED certification for a home.

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Energy Efficiency Standard Changes for Commercial Lighting

Come July 14, 2012, the standards for energy-efficiency in commercial lighting will change.  The Department of Energy has ruled that certain general-service fluorescent lights and incandescent (and halogen) reflector lights will be banned from manufacture in the U.S. after the new standards are put in place.  This will essentially eliminate lights with the lowest efficiency and cost from the market.  It might be important to keep these changes in mind as they will affect available options in the near future.

General-service fluorescent lights that will be prohibited:

  • All 2-ft. full-wattage and energy-saving U-shaped T12 lamps
  • All 75W F96T12 and 110W F96T12HO lamps
  • All 4-ft. T8 basic-grade 700/SP series lamps rated at 2,800 lumens
  • Most 4-ft. linear full-wattage and energy-saving T12 lamps
  • Most 60W F96T12/ES and 95W F96T12/ES/HO lamps
  • Some 8-ft. T8 Slimline single-pin 700/SP series and 8-ft. T8 HO RDC-base lamps

Incandescent reflector lights that will be prohibited:

  • Many R, PAR, BR, ER, BPAR and similar bulb shapes
  • 130V products

As a side note, fluorescent magnetic T12 ballasts are also set to be prohibited from manufacture after June 30, 2010.  This regulation was set in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

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