Lighting Controls Association Takes a Look at DOE Study on Building Stock Andrew Burton/Getty Images News

Lighting Controls Association Takes a Look at DOE Study on Building Stock

LCA's Craig DiLouie explores the 2012 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey and its implications for adoption of lighting upgrades and controls.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has begun releasing results from the 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), an estimate of the commercial building stock throughout the United States. Over at the Lighting Controls Association’s website, lighting writer Craig DiLouie shares his insights from the survey’s results. He found that automatic lighting controls have significantly gained in popularity in commercial buildings, a trend that by other measures has further increased since the time of the survey.

Other key points DiLouie calls out:

•             Occupancy sensors controlled lighting in 41% of all commercial floor space

•             Time-based scheduling controls, 35%

•             Multilevel and dimmable lighting, 17%

•             Daylight harvesting, 7%

Several conclusions can be gained from this. One, automatic lighting controls have significantly gained in popularity in commercial buildings.

Two, flexible lighting, once reserved for spaces such as conference rooms, has become more popular, driven by energy management and visual needs. Multilevel and dimming control is most popular in retail (35% of floor space), in-patient healthcare (35%), lodging (24%), office (17%) and education (16%). These lamps are controlled by line- or low-voltage dimmers.

And three, daylight harvesting, while still controlling a small percentage of floor space, nonetheless is demonstrating remarkable growth.

The CBECS is a valuable resource for anyone looking to understand the commercial market via a one-time snapshot. The survey’s results include information such as the number of buildings, floor space, age, building type, region, energy consumption, end-use equipment and more. DOE defines a commercial building as one in which at least half of the floor space is used for a purpose that is not residential, industrial or agricultural. It therefore includes schools, hospitals, religious worship and other buildings.

The greatest potential for lighting and control upgrades is buildings with older lighting systems, overlighted spaces, long operating hours and high energy rates. Buildings built before 1980, for example, would be a good place to start looking for opportunity. In 2012, this market represented an estimated 2.8 million buildings comprising 38.6 billion sq.ft. About half of all buildings and 44% of all floor space.

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