A call for better lighting efficiency

In response to a letter from Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman that calls for implementation of improved lighting systems that save U.S. dollars, the National Lighting Bureau is among the groups offering solutions.


According to the National Lighting Bureau (NLB), more than $50 billion is wasted each year by the owners of 2.8 million U.S. commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings that rely on outmoded lighting systems, which waste energy and money.

In a letter to lighting industry leaders, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman wrote, “More than 75% of the nation’s 5 million commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings were built prior to the introduction of many groundbreaking energy efficient technologies currently available today. These buildings consume nearly 900 billion kWh of electricity, at a cost exceeding $115 billion each year. While cost-effective lighting technologies are available now to cut energy costs by up to 50%, only 25% of the buildings have been upgraded.”

NLB chair Robert W. Colgan Jr. pointed toward the Commercial Building Tax Deduction (CBTD)--introduced through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and extended through Dec. 31, 2013—as a possible solution.

“The CBTD gives owners a tax benefit of as much as $0.60 per sq ft for qualifying lighting systems, effectively lowering the investment required to update or replace an outmoded system,” he said. “The return%%MDASSML%%in the form of utility bill savings and the bottom-line benefits of providing better seeing conditions%%MDASSML%%creates a genuinely huge financial incentive at a time when building owners could really use one.”

According to NLB figures, the most significant value likely to be derived from lighting-system upgrades comes from what the organization calls High-Benefit Lighting—systems designed specifically for the tasks, workers, and spaces involved.

”A two-shift, 100-person-per-shift manufacturer may spend about $15,000 per year on lighting energy when it operates six days per week,” said Colgan. “If so, a 70% energy-use reduction would yield an energy-cost benefit of $10,500 per year. If that same new lighting were well-designed and so improved worker productivity by just 2% per year, the manufacturer would derive an additional benefit worth about $150,000 per year.”

The National Electrical Manufacturers Assn., a founding partner and sponsor of the NLB, has been working with Bodman to develop comprehensive conservation measures.

In addition, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) and the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in November, signifying their joint intention to work toward improving the efficient use of energy by lighting equipment and systems. The MOU emphasizes the importance of minimizing the impact of energy use on the environment in support of DOE SSL programs on lighting quality.

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