CBS Newsletter
Winter 1997
pg. 1

Twenty Years of Lighting Research

For two decades, the Center for Building Science has been a leader in the energy-efficient lighting area, helping the U.S. chip away at its $38 billion annual lighting energy bill. The cost of global lighting energy use is approximately four times as great.

The Center's expertise spans the development and application of efficient lighting systems and technologies, energy policies, demand forecasting, utility program evaluation, training, design software, demonstration projects, and a host of international themes.

Research and Development

Since the late 1970s, the Center has worked with the lighting industry to develop and commercialize new technologies ranging from electronic ballasts to higher-performance compact fluorescent and sulfur lamps. Facilities in our lighting laboratory, including the goniophotometer and luminaire thermal performance instrumentation, support the development of new products, such as efficient infrared-halogen A-lamp substitutes for traditional incandescents, light guides, fiber optics, high-efficiency torchiere fixtures, (Fall 1996, p. 6) high-performance uplights, and lighting controls. Complementing the electric lighting systems work, Center researchers are also involved in a host of daylighting projects and related advanced window R&D (Winter 1995, p.6; Spring 1995, p.5; Summer 1995, p.4). We also consider the human dimensions of lighting as they pertain to the design of light sources and architectural applications. Center staff serve on numerous committees in the Illuminating Engineering Society, the International Commission on Illumination, and other professional organizations.

Market Transformation

The fruits of our lighting R&D efforts often give rise to new projects focused on large-scale deployment of new efficient lighting solutions. Current laboratory prototypes of efficient torchiere lights (Fall 1996, p.6) have led to a new partnership between large fixture and lamp manufacturers to produce these at a commercial scale. Other projects focus on implementing efficient lighting in hotels, and assisting the Department of Defense and other large buyers in procuring energy-efficient A-lamp replacement technologies.

Lighting Design and Energy Calculation Tools

Several computer tools for lighting simulations and energy analysis have been developed at the Center. These include the photorealistic RADIANCE lighting design software, LEAR (Lighting Energy Analysis for Retrofits) for calculating energy and light output from commercially available lamps, DOE-2 for estimating lighting energy use in whole building simulations, and Superlite for quantifying daylight distributions in indoor environments.

Energy and Economic Analysis

Two models co-developed by the Center estimate the potential impacts of efficient lighting technologies on a national scale: COMMEND (Commercial End Use Forecasting Model) and REM (Residential Energy Model). Detailed end-use data from many sources has been gathered and synthesized for conducting a detailed assessment of lighting conservation potential in the U.S. Other projects include a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of lighting standards in the U.S. for particular efficiency options, such as high-intensity discharge lighting (Spring 1995, p.5). Researchers in the Database on Energy Efficiency Programs have evaluated the largest nonresidential lighting utility programs in the U.S. and validated their cost-effectiveness compared to new electrical energy supply (Summer 1994, p.7).

The International Dimension

Center staff have worked to promote lighting efficiency in other countries. In Mexico and India, they provided technical support for CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) market development projects. In the Netherlands they developed a lighting demand forecasting tool. The Center also recently published an assessment of the lighting market and efficiency potential in China. The Center helps organize the biannual Right Light conference, which brings together 250 people from 40 countries to discuss all aspects of energy-efficient lighting.

Information Outreach and Demonstration Projects

Developing information tools and demonstration projects to promote the use of efficient lighting systems has long been an important focus of the Center's lighting-related activities. The Center staff co-authored the 300-page Lighting Design Guidelines, collaborated with industry in workshops to help accelerate the commercialization of technologies such as dedicated fixtures for CLFs, and are developing an interactive residential energy analysis Web site that will address lighting and other end uses (Summer 1996, p.1).

The Center's Applications Team and the Federal Energy Management Program have conducted demonstration programs that include a lighting renovation and design project for the White House (Summer 1994, p.1); audits and retrofit studies for government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (Fall 1995, p.8); lighting design for the 1996 Olympics; and a major lighting-controls demonstration project at the San Francisco Federal Building (see page 4). We have even practiced what we preach by retrofitting our own building to achieve more than 90% lighting energy savings (Summer 1994, p.5).

The U.S. Department of Energy has been our primary source of support for the accomplishments outlined in this article. The Center is continuing its 20-year tradition of conducting innovative lighting research and field applications for a wide variety of clients. We invite potential partners to call us and discuss how we might build on our track record and cooperate to develop new projects.

—Evan Mills & Nathan Martin

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For a more detailed description of lighting projects and capabilities at the Center, see the Lighting Excellence Web site.


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