Green Lighting

Green Lighting

Staying on top of the latest green requirements in federal codes and standards for lighting products and systems

Despite the severe downturn in construction brought on by the recession, industry experts are expecting the green building market to more than double by 2013. In its market research report, “2009 Green Outlook: Trends Driving Change,” McGraw-Hill Construction, New York, is predicting sustainable design and construction to reach $96 billion to $140 billion for residential and non-residential buildings. Among other reasons, the report credits governmental policies and regulations, which run the gamut from encouraging to requiring green building practices and the development/use of green technologies, for insulating the green building market from the negative forces ruling the current construction economic climate.

As a direct result of recent green federal lighting codes, standards, and regulations, U.S. demand for advanced and energy-efficient lighting products alone is forecast to grow 10.9% annually through 2013, according to Cleveland-based market researcher Freedonia Group. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will lead the market, followed by advanced high-intensity discharge (HID) and halogen lamps and fixtures. In addition, proposed legislation requiring higher degrees of conservation from non-building lighting will spur market gains for outdoor equipment and other lighting systems associated with public sector infrastructure projects, which could potentially benefit from stimulus funding as well.

The 30% solution

In the latest rounds of revisions to the two primary federal baseline building energy codes — International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” (ASHRAE 90.1) — the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking more compatibility between the two codes as well as improvements in energy efficiency over codes from previous years. If accepted, these more stringent requirements would be a step toward codes that mandate net-zero building requirements, which the DOE hopes would result in its ultimate goal for net-zero buildings to be cost-effective alternatives to traditional construction by 2025.

“Our committee's objective is to minimize the negative environmental impact of our work as much as possible, but at the same time we still want to be able to produce quality, luminous environments for people to live and work in, and be happy and comfortable,” says Glenn Heinmiller, chair of the energy committee for the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Chicago, and principal at Cambridge, Mass.-based architectural lighting design firm Lam Partners. “It's a balancing act that takes careful design of energy codes.”

The DOE is seeking to shore up energy efficiency in the 2012 IECC by 30% over the 2006 IECC. One proposal designed to meet this goal will result in a new section in the commercial code, offering designers and developers three different choices, one of which is to implement a more energy-efficient lighting system. Additionally, a proposal to the International Residential Code (IRC), a subsection of the IECC, would require all new homes to start with 60% efficient lighting, regardless of compliance method.

The Report of Public Hearing for the 2012 IECC is available on the International Code Council's Web site at From now until July 1, 2010, public comments may be submitted to challenge or support the Code Development Committee's decisions or to suggest modifications to a code change proposal. The Final Action Hearings (FAH) will be held in Charlotte, N.C., from Oct. 28-Nov.1, 2010. Changes approved at the FAH will be published in the 2012 IECC.

Through ASHRAE 90.1-2010 — targeted for publication in September 2010 — DOE also seeks to reduce energy use in buildings by at least 30%, as compared to Standard 90.1-2004. Proposed changes in lighting for the 2010 version include reduced lighting loads, lighting power densities, required daylighting, higher equipment efficiencies, and lighting and daylighting controls.

Some lighting designers fear the proposed changes to the current energy codes could raise the bar too high. They are concerned the conservation demands in the energy codes could outpace the ability of technology to meet the decreases in lighting power density, meaning cuts to wattage requirements that could restrict creative freedom and erode lighting quality. The result would be efficient buildings, but lighting quality would be sacrificed to achieve efficiency goals.

“If the codes get ahead of the technology, you could end up with a situation where you couldn't design a decent building that would be pleasant to be in,” says Heinmiller. “In the past, the codes lagged behind technology but now they are catching up. So with lighting, you constantly update the code based on currently available technology.”

Recently, there has been a growing discussion to change the code measurement from watts per square foot to kilowatt hours per square foot per year, thus effectively changing the burden of meeting conservation mandates from the design side to maintenance and operations.

Federal phaseouts

In July 2009, the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) Building Technologies Program, which sets minimum efficiency standards for residential appliances and commercial equipment on more than 40 product groups, issued new energy-efficiency standards for commercial general-service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs) (click here to see Table 1) and halogen and incandescent reflector lamps (IRLs) (click here to see Table 2)), which will become effective on July 14, 2012.

The DOE is also in the process of reviewing energy conservation standards for fluorescent lamp ballasts, building on previous rulings that essentially stopped the use of magnetic ballasts. A public meeting was held April 26, 2010, to discuss and receive comments on the proposed standards, analytical tools, and results of primary analyses. After consideration of the comments, the DOE will prepare a notice of proposed rulemaking, which will be published in the Federal Register. Following that, members of the public will have an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed standards.

The recent rulings are not expected to have much of an impact on new construction, particularly with regard to fluorescent lamps. “These changes, as they phase in over the next three years, are pretty much inconsequential for architectural lighting designers,” says Heinmiller, explaining that T12 lamps and less-efficient T8 lamps have not been specified for new projects in quite some time. “All the tools that are available to us now will still be available.”

However, the ruling on the IRLs is expected to raise the up-front costs for these fixtures. “If a customer is already using a good quality T8 lamp or system, they're not going to see much change at all,” says Pam Horner, director of government, regulatory, and industry relations for Osram Sylvania, Danvers, Mass. “But in the reflector lamp portion of that rulemaking, they'll definitely see a difference because you've got to put extra coatings on the capsules and add reflectors. All of that will drive the cost up.”

Most affected by the IRL ruling will be homeowners, retailers, and hospitality and restaurant owners. However, many of the higher-end commercial users have already made the switch, according to Horner. “A lot of those folks already understand the long-term benefit of higher efficacy so they don't pay the higher utility bills,” she explains. “Many of them have already moved on to other technologies (see Is Solid-State Lighting Ready for Prime Time? on page 23).

Because of increased efficiency, life cycle costs will be lower. “If you can do the lighting job for fewer watts for the same amount of light, you use less energy and incur a lower overall cost,” says Horner. “You recoup the cost that way.”

Throw a retrofit

Although fluorescent lamp and ballast rulings may not affect new construction, they could have a large impact on the green retrofit business, particularly for office buildings and industrial facilities. Commercial and industrial users of the linear 4-ft and 8-ft tubes may be facing the choice between one-for-one replacement as the lamps and fixtures fail or are phased out versus performing an upgrade (see DOE Releases Web Tool for Commercial Buildings on page 28). (For information on selling lighting upgrades to building owners and facilities managers, see “Selling Up Without Selling Out” on the EC&M Web at

A June 2009 market research report conducted in conjunction with Today's Facility Manager magazine, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., reveals that although 96% of surveyed owners of commercial, industrial, institutional, and health care buildings consider sustainability either “important” or “somewhat important,” only 41% reported plans to upgrade lighting products and systems within the year. Cost was given as the main reason owners are reluctant to upgrade less efficient lighting products and systems, according to the research report.

Some owners and facilities managers will try to save money by replacing older lamps and ballasts with newer, more efficient ones. However, by doing so, they are missing out on an opportunity to upgrade to more efficient lighting systems in addition to potential improvements to lighting quality. “Controls can be very desirable part of a lamp and ballast upgrade project,” says Craig DiLouie, education director, Lighting Controls Association (LCA), Rosslyn, Va. “In existing buildings, lighting controls should be incorporated into lamp and ballast retrofits as well as major renovations to accelerate energy savings and provide additional benefits such as flexibility.”

For example, with magnetic ballasts becoming obsolete this summer and T12 lamps being phased out in a few years, building owners may balk at the up-front cost of replacement. However, they should consider upgrading older lighting systems in planned upgrades instead of individual components as they fail, says DiLouie. “An economical and effective solution would be to replace the ballast and the lamp at the same time and upgrade to systems of electronic ballasts and T8 lamps that are rated as compatible,” he says. “The alternative would be to mix different lamps and ballasts in the same system, which would affect space appearance, potentially confuse maintenance staff and risk incompatibilities between lamps and ballasts purchased for the space, while denying opportunities to re-evaluate the lighting system and take advantage of volume purchasing.”

By planning the upgrade, the owner would have the opportunity to re-evaluate the lighting system and incorporate improvements to lighting quality and also potentially automatic lighting controls to accelerate energy savings.

According to DiLouie, many spaces served by older lighting systems are over lighted, glaring, and designed for tasks that have changed dramatically over decades of workplace evolution. The best solution, in fact, may not be new lamps and ballasts, but an entirely new lighting system, starting with a new design and possibly new luminaires. “This requires thinking of a lighting system as a business asset to the building and its users that should be managed like one,” he says.

Building owners may soon have to re-think their outdoor lighting systems as well. The 2009 U.S. House of Representatives Bill HR2454, which contains outdoor lighting provisions, has now turned into Senate Bill S.3059, “National Energy Efficiency Enhancement Act of 2010.” The legislation will regulate two types of lamps that are primarily used outdoors. After Jan. 1, 2016, high-output double-ended quartz halogen lamps must have a minimum efficiency of 27 LPW for lamps with a minimum rated initial lumen value of 6,000 and a maximum initial lumen value of 15,000. In addition, 34 LPW is required for lamps rated with initial lumen value greater than 15,000 and less than 40,000.

After Jan. 1, 2016, no general-purpose mercury vapor lamp may be manufactured. EPAct 2005 banned new mercury vapor fixtures and ballasts, so sales have already been declining. This new provision would complete the transition away from mercury vapor lamps. But perhaps the most notable part of the legislation is the addition of control requirements for outdoor lighting. “If it passes, area lighting, such as in parking lots, will have to have the capability of bringing the light level down to a lower level for the first time,” says Horner. “You could interface it with an occupancy sensor or a timer. So you're starting to see control appear in a lot of places to save energy.”

In that event, if energy use is distilled down to its essence: power 3 time, the most efficient light fixture is the one that's turned off. “Basically, if you want to save energy, turn off the lights when you don't need them,” says Heinmiller. “That's lighting controls.”

Sidebar: Is Solid-State Lighting Ready for Prime Time?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released analysis findings of the energy savings potential of solid-state lighting (SSL) sources for general illumination applications compared to incandescent and fluorescent lamps and their fixtures. Using an econometric model of the U.S. lighting market, over the analysis period, which spans from 2010-2030, the February 2010 report estimates national energy savings of approximately 1,488 terawatt-hours, representing $120 billion at current energy prices. Yet, in order for the estimated energy savings projection to be realized, SSL will need to achieve substantial improvements in price, efficacy, and operating life to beat out advances in lighting technologies, such as the development of T8 and T5 fluorescent tubes, electronic ballasts, and pulse-start metal-halide high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.

However, one aspect of SSL technology that could actually benefit conventional lighting is a change in energy measurement, which is at the fixture level for SSL. “With SSL, you start to think of the light source as being more of a system,” says Pam Horner, director of government, regulatory, and industry relations for Osram Sylvania, Danvers, Mass. “You measure the entire fixture, such as the LEDs and the heat sinks. So I'm guessing that the lumens per watt numbers attached to lighting in the future are going to apply to the whole light fixture, not just to the light bulb. If you've got light that has to come out of an LED package and it has to hit a reflector — and then make its way around a luminaire — you're going to have another whole set of numbers to deal with.”

Sidebar: DOE Releases Web Tool for Commercial Buildings

On May 5, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) introduced Commercial Lighting Solutions, an interactive Web tool designed to help commercial building owners improve lighting efficiency by at least 30% over ASHRAE 90.1-2004. Developed by DOE in partnership with lighting designers, architects, and commercial end-users, the tool provides energy savings projections based on user input and selections. The solutions are designed to meet or exceed energy savings levels needed to qualify for tax incentives established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Commercial users and designers can also use the Web tool to document performance against energy goals that can support end-user applications for incentives and rebates from utilities and state or regional energy-efficiency programs.

Commercial buildings in the United States consume an estimated 18% of total U.S. energy use. In 2006, lighting constituted about 25% of the commercial sector's energy use, making it the largest single component of building energy use and accounting for 42% of a commercial building's cooling load.

Commercial Lighting Solutions is the first commercial technology solution to be launched as part of the DOE's Net-Zero Energy Commercial Building Initiative (CBI). The first application of Commercial Lighting Solutions has been developed and analyzed for five types of retail stores (big box, small box, grocery, specialty market, and drug stores). Solutions for office and institutional buildings are already underway.

CBI aims to achieve marketable net-zero energy commercial buildings by 2025. For more information, visit the Commercial Lighting Solutions tool at

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