Celebration of Lighting

Despite stiff competition from the American Institute of Architects' annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, hundreds of architects, engineers, professors and lighting professionals attended the 18th Annual Lightfair, held in New York from May 6 through May 10. This year Lightfair exceeded expectations with attendees and exhibitors from all over the world.

By Siva K. Haran, P.E., LC, LEED AP, Senior Electrical Engineer, A. Epstein and Sons International Inc., Chicago June 1, 2007

Despite stiff competition from the American Institute of Architects’ annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, hundreds of architects, engineers, professors and lighting professionals attended the 18th Annual Lightfair, held in New York from May 6 through May 10. This year Lightfair exceeded expectations with attendees and exhibitors from all over the world. It was an enjoyable event, with plenty to see and learn. The following are some highlights from the seminars convened and products displayed.

This year, daylighting, LEED and sustainability, LEDs and energy codes were the buzz words dominating exhibits and lectures. In her lecture on “Emerging Daylight Metrics,” Lisa Heschong, principal of Heschong Mahone Group, Fair Oaks, Calif., a daylighting consultant firm, said that the de facto standard for quantifying daylight has been the daylight factor. However, this standard only evaluates performance under overcast sky conditions.

A better measure, called the daylight autonomy factor (DAF), takes into account all of the relevant factors, including climate, building schedule, room geometry, glazing, electric lighting, etc., and the percentage of average electric lighting power is determined. The percentage of electric lighting energy saved is the DAF. The DAF criterion will be just like addressing any other energy code value. If DAF is as smart and useful as it appears to be, DAF should be adopted quickly by USGBC for the LEED series of standards, and may play an integral role in future energy codes. Heschong mentioned that the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) is in the process of developing a simplified approach to daylighting metrics that will also coordinate with sustainability efforts, codes and voluntary standards, visual comfort research, health and productivity research and software developers.

The Nova Eventis shopping center in Leipzig, Germany, makes creative use of LEDs. Europe has been in the forefront of implementing lighting designs using LED technology.Photography: Martin Architectural

In other daylighting news, under the prescriptive approach of California’s Title 24-2005 Program, skylighting requirements are being lowered. Currently, spaces larger than 25,000 sq. ft. and with ceilings taller than 15 ft. require skylighting. Now in the new 2006/2007 Program, the 25,000-sq.-ft. requirement will be lowered to 8,000 sq. ft. Additionally, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is currently developing a simplified software, DELight, which will fill the gap between existing complex daylighting tools. Eleanor Lee, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explained smart building skins, which are designed to minimize cooling loads but admit large quantities of daylight. Lee stated that the ultimate goal is to have “cool and smart windows.” These are some of the innovative sustainable design strategies gaining momentum with the Architecture 2030 program to make buildings “carbon neutral” by the year 2030.

The LEED/sustainability trend also was discussed by Greg Hanson, from Balhizer & Hubbard Engineers, Eugene, Ore., who lectured on “Sustainability beyond LEED.” He said that LEED is for the 90% of us who don’t understand sustainability. According to Hanson, LEED is just a snapshot in time, but unfortunately it doesn’t look to the future (i.e. you don’t get credits for not generating waste, you only get credits for recycling/reusing the waste). Also, Hanson aptly stated a “beyond LEED” project doesn’t have to cost more, but it has to be costed properly.

LEDs also were a major topic at Lightfair and many exhibitors felt that one of the key barriers holding back the greater deployment of LEDs in the built environment is lack of standardization. The IESNA and other committees are making significant progress on developing standards and have zoned in on seven or eight categories that should lead to some kind of proposed standard. These categories include photometric test methods, life rating, chromaticity, power supplies, definitions/nomenclature and status of ENERGY STAR criteria for LED luminaires are some of the key standards.

Groundbreaking work has also been done by the IESNA to implement an improved system for analyzing outdoor luminaires. Using the new Luminaire Classification System (LCS) as a basis, the IESNA has joined forces with the International Dark-Sky Assn. (IDA) to develop a joint Model Outdoor Lighting Ordinance (MOLO). The new system will be based on forward light, backward light and up light in terms of solid angle references.

Artistic fountains at Nova Eventis use underwater LED luminaires.Photography: Martin Architectural

In energy news, Phillips Lighting is seeking support to phase out incandescent (standard bulbs) by 2016 and replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), highly efficient halogens and/or incandescents. There was even some talk of eventually replacing standard bulbs with LEDs. But many in attendance felt it may be difficult to achieve this goal because the standard bulbs are cheaper and highly popular among consumers. Additionally, the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. (NEMA) is opposing this phase out, although NEMA lamp companies are working to cap mercury in CFL for residential use.

Additional topics included a heavy emphasis on commissioning and effective integration of daylight and electric light with various control methods. Some of the emerging technologies are: automatic demand response (ADR), load shedding ballasts, digital control systems, wireless controls, integrated controls, bi-level for stairways and corridors, automatic calibration and commissioning and LED residential dimmers.

Products on display

There were two Lightfair International (LFI) Technical Excellence Awards given for best sustainable solutions: lamp sources with 50% reduction in mercury and small power with high efficacy sources.

From the fluorescent side, there were some improvements in energy efficient and low mercury lamps. Metal halide technology is seeing some higher (90+) color rendering index (CRI) lamps. One manufacturer showed a long life (18,000 hrs.) halogen MR16 lamp. Major LED manufacturers showed improvements in higher efficacy, higher color rendering and adjustable color temperature LEDs. One manufacturer even introduced a screw-in type A LED lamp.

Fluorescent luminaires also included fixtures with built-in motion sensors, task and ambient light combinations with motion sensors, modular fixtures, i.e., linear suspension system with multiple sources, luminous sky ceiling system with daylight balanced backlight and fixtures providing volumetric brightness. New track systems included an amazingly small line-voltage track (3/4 in. x 3/8 in.) that received a best of category award. Ceramic metal halide (CMH) 20-watt MR16 fixtures are also a trend in track lighting.

This year there were many small aperture downlights. New LED fixtures showed the most innovation. Many manufacturers showed beautiful designs among other technical displays. A couple of manufacturers even offered LED linear replacements for T5 fluorescents with same socket ends. Additionally, there were also numerous skylights and solar powered pole lighting products displayed on the floor.

From the controls/dimming side, there were many interesting products exhibited due to the incredible advances being made in electronics. Most noteworthy was self powered wireless sensors and switches. Amazingly the energy need for these sensors and switches comes from pushing the switch itself. Essentially with this technology it’s possible to eliminate the low-voltage communication wiring to every lighting fixture if a wireless receiver is imbedded in the ballasts.

LFI’s Most Innovative Award went to a HID backup ballast which helps eliminate downtime in HID metal halide systems by supporting the lamp arc for up to two minutes in the event of a power disturbance. Two minutes is generally enough time for a disturbance to pass or for a generator to respond. No arc loss means no need for lengthy restrike periods common to HID systems.

Lightfair International was innovative, exciting and an educational event that I, along with many of colleagues and exhibitors in the lighting industry, eagerly look forward to next year in Las Vegas.