Lighting Predictions: Experts theorize the lighting industry’s state in 2030 and beyond

By Craig DiLouie | Jan 15, 2022
Shutterstock / IlayaStudio / Vectormine

In March 2021, the Illuminating Engineering Society published, “Beyond 2030: What Do You See?” In it, industry experts imagine the state of the lighting industry in 2030 and beyond, challenges it faces this decade and where it should focus its energies. Media-driven environments, networked controls, DC power and healthy lighting are just a few topics covered, providing a palette of fascinating possibilities for the future of light.

Brad Koerner’s “Welcome to the Luminous ’20s” identifies six disruptive trends in architectural lighting. He notes that the idea of a luminous surface is evolving in the fusion of LED lighting and building materials, offering opportunities for embedded light, animation and integration with digital signage. Data-driven experiences will continue to grow in importance, with architecture increasingly providing a platform for their delivery and building-occupant interactions.

Wenye Hu, Dorukalp Durmus and Wendy Davis’ “Beyond 2030: Beyond Luminous Efficacy” notes the limitations of the venerable lumens-per-watt metric for light source efficacy. Significant additional energy savings may be possible, they write, by emphasizing application efficiency, which accounts for where and how light is used in a space.

They identified three potential approaches. With smarter dimming, control systems could constantly adjust high-end trim based on various factors. Absorption-minimizing lighting could automatically adjust the spectral emission of light sources based on objects’ detected color, optimizing light reflection (useful) and minimizing absorbed (wasted) light without affecting visual color perception. With gaze-dependent lighting, sensing could ensure that only portions of the space that are visible to occupants at any given time are illuminated.

Joseph Guiyab’s “Advanced Lighting Controls Will Unlock Dynamic Lighting Environments” imagines the daily life of a woman in a future where all lighting is intelligent and is luminously, spectrally and temporally responsive to individual people and their specific lighting needs. Supported by advances in 5G networks, machine learning and artificial intelligence, these systems merge individual luminaire control with user data to create dynamic, real-time and individually tailored lighting solutions.

In “The Future Is Lighting Controls,” Lawrence O. Lamontagne Jr. asserts that lighting controls are transitioning from the energy code era that emphasizes energy savings, to the internet of things era that emphasizes data. Interfaces are becoming simpler as the systems themselves become more complex, including low-voltage wired or wireless connections and intelligence and new features.

He looks at multiple players in the lighting channel to analyze impacts. He points out that contractors will need to bolster their knowledge as expertise is pushed down the purchasing chain. Those who invest will be able to offer higher-margin services and gain a fresh source of discretionary business. This may involve employing low-voltage specialists and working with commissioning agents and close distributor partnerships.

Mark Lien’s “Lighting Forecast by the Decades” is a snapshot piece packing many predictions. By 2030, he says, LED will have saturated the exterior lighting market. Energy standards will have been consolidated or eliminated, with only a minimum and a stretch standard offered. Government will shift from focusing on boosting energy efficiency to minimizing carbon. Renewable energy will be even more attractive. Augmented reality will enable a preview of how lighting will look and perform in a space.

By 2040, Lien adds, exterior lighting will center around a digital platform for a menu of technologies that includes light. Solar power for exterior lighting will be more efficient, while roadway lighting will adapt to self-driving vehicles. Glare will still be an issue, while lighting designed to optimize health will be widely adopted.

“A Redefined Purpose for Indoor Lighting Practice” by Christopher Cuttle proposes indoor lighting practice be guided by satisfying or exceeding occupant expectations of how lighting influences a space, with lighting design objectives tailored to each application and an emphasis on illuminating the volume of the space rather than focusing on the workplane. He proposes designing for an optimal target/ambient illuminance ratio, which accounts for light falling on target surfaces and resulting interreflections.

Douglas Steel’s “Applications of Lighting for Health Management” anticipates the industry will shift from its light-and-health focus on circadian health to lighting as a modular system influencing numerous functions by the 2030s. New clinical tests will validate light’s health effects, light recipes will be created for patient needs (possibly facilitated by A.I.), pediatric medicine will use light exposure protocols and the FDA will establish regulatory guidelines.

These are just some of the engaging visions of trends and ideas that may come to fruition by 2030, along with reprints of old articles presenting past research that influenced the present.

About The Author

DiLouie, L.C. is a journalist and educator specializing in the lighting industry. Learn more at and





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