Knowing What's Best

Tight credit and weak demand for new facilities pushed private nonresidential spending into a deep slide in 2009, while public construction got a boost from federal stimulus money. Considering that more than 30 states and 130 cities encourage or require Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for public construction, many of these projects are green.

LEED 2009 requires that the building use 10 percent less energy than an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1-2007 or California Title 24-compliant building, and it gives points for going farther. As LEED 2009 places a greater emphasis on energy savings, improving lighting efficiency by 30 percent in a 100,000-square-foot building could achieve as many as 6 to 8 LEED points.

Even without a green goal, the trend in energy codes is a significant reduction in interior lighting-power allowances every six years. In federal construction, new nonresidential buildings must beat ASHRAE 90.1-2004 by 30 percent.

As the potential efficiencies of lamps and ballasts become exhausted, policy-makers will look to lighting controls, daylighting and innovative design. In short, lighting is getting more complex. And as it gets more complex, the risk of producing inadequate lighting increases. While many electrical contractors are highly proficient with lighting, not many people know how to design good lighting systems on a very low energy budget outside the industry’s top designers.

To solve this problem, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) studied the question of how to encourage adoption of advanced lighting technologies and design practices by making them available to everybody in the lighting specification community, not just the leaders in the field. The DOE understood that people need not only education but guidance that is accessible, easily understandable and, most important, actionable.

The result is the Commercial Lighting Solutions (CLS) program, a Web tool providing customizable lighting templates designed to generate more than 30 percent lighting energy savings, without sacrificing lighting quality. It is specifically for people who make lighting decisions but are not necessarily experts. Contractors, designers, distributors and owners can use these templates to achieve the latest, energy-efficient solutions—while providing good lighting. The free tool can be accessed at

CLS for Retail launched at Lightfair 2009. CLS for Office was fast-tracked to support large public spending projects and is being launched this month at Lightfair 2010. The stakes are potentially high, as $5 billion has been earmarked for federal building upgrades alone, and an estimated $1 billion is being spent on lighting. While the CLS for Office tool will not be required, the General Services Administration is likely to encourage its use by federal facility managers responsible for upgrading their buildings.

After registering, the user provides some basic information about the building, such as its operating hours, location and applicable energy code. For office buildings, a drawing then appears showing six types of office spaces: private offices, open offices, open office perimeter, corridors, conference rooms and reception space. The user selects a space and enters some information about it, such as the ceiling height, total area and whether windows or skylights provide daylight. If daylight is available, the user enters additional information, such as amount of glazing, visible transmittance and whether there are light shelves installed.

The user is shown lighting choices that match the space characteristics. Overall, some 40 major lighting and control combinations are available. In open office spaces, for example, the user can choose lighting layouts including 8-foot multilamp direct/indirect fixtures, 12-foot single-lamp direct/indirect fixtures, or recessed nonplanar lensed fixtures, with lighting power densities up to 40 percent lower than ASHRAE 90.1-2004/2007 using the Space-by-Space Method.

Suppose we choose 12-foot single-lamp direct/indirect pendants. The fixtures place light on the walls and ceilings, making the space appear larger and brighter with improved uniformity, while adjustable desktop task lights provide supplementary lighting and give users personal control and increased satisfaction. Average maintained horizontal work surface light levels range from 30–35 foot-candles ambient and 45–75 foot-candles on paper tasks; ballasts can be specified with lower or higher ballast factors to tune light levels to the project. The lamps have a neutral color appearance and a good color-rendering index rating of 85 or higher.

When the lighting solution is selected, control options are presented. For open offices, the control options range in capabilities from networked vacancy sensors to adding daylight harvesting to performing multiple control strategies using a highly integrated, individually addressable, centrally controllable, digital lighting control system. Depending on the option, energy savings can increase significantly. Each control option includes a zonal map revealing the control strategy, generic performance specifications (based in part on energy code requirements and GSA specifications) and special notes on installation and commissioning.

DILOUIE, a lighting industry journalist, analyst and marketing consultant, is principal of ZING Communications. He can be reached at

About the Author

Craig DiLouie

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

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