Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Next Generation Luminaires (NGL) design competition transitioned its focus from luminaires to Next Generation Lighting Systems (NGLS). This new approach features multiple competitions, a tighter focus on specific lighting applications, and an expanded evaluation process that involves installations in real-world settings and greater interaction among entrants, judges, and host sites.
The first competition, which is already well underway, focuses on connected lighting systems for interior applications. To qualify for this first competition, systems had to be: marketed as "easy" to install and configure; intended for contractor setup and configuration without prior training; and configurable without manufacturer assistance. Seven systems have been accepted for initial evaluation — Cree (SmartCast control system), Crestron Electronics (ZumTM control system), LumenWerx (Magnum control system), Philips (SpaceWise DT control system), Nextek Power Systems (Nextek control system), RAB (LightcloudTM control system), and Selux Corporation (Philips EasySense control system). The system designs were submitted in May, the systems were shipped in June, and installation began July 27 at Parsons School of Design, The New School, in New York.
Systems will be installed in accessible working spaces, with each system lighting and controlling its own space, providing manufacturers with the opportunity to observe and improve their products. The NGLS indoor installations will remain in place at Parsons for practical use and ongoing evaluation for at least two years. According to the DOE, NGLS is serving as the "specifier," Parsons' architectural review board is serving as the "owner," and contractors were pre-screened to ensure they had little or no experience with connected lighting systems. Installation and configuration evaluations are taking place in August. The system performance phase of the evaluations will take place in September and will focus on both lighting and controls. That phase will be followed by long-term evaluations, which will focus on system performance, user satisfaction, and reliability.
In addition to the installation, configuration, and performance, NGLS will evaluate the specification process, including design and performance parameters, with the goal of simplifying the specification of connected lighting systems. Findings will be published as each phase is completed and will include such elements as the time required and challenges faced in design, installation, and configuration; the level of energy savings achieved; and user acceptance and satisfaction. NGLS will not select "winners." Instead, it will recognize superior performance and identify areas for improvement, since the goal is to educate manufacturers/specifiers and influence product innovation.
Contact NGLS for more information on how to get involved in the competitions.