Encouraging Energy-Efficient Lighting Design
February 20, 2012 - 11:04am

Angela McDonald: People are sometimes pleasantly surprised that energy-efficient sources are acceptable and compatible with a residential setting. The designer can combine halogen, LED and compact fluorescent sources with a consistent appearance and size to the aperture without abrupt transitions. The energy-efficient elements don’t stand out, as though there’s something foreign in the setting. True, the technical aspect of the work has to remain current for many years, but we can bring in efficient sources that don’t feel out of place.

The greatest way to convince either a designer or a homeowner that they’ll be comfortable and will enjoy an energy-efficient design is to show them physical examples of acceptable energy-efficient options.

In addition, we have a database of concept images. The images added are at the discretion of the entire design team across our firm. What intrigues one person is added for someone else’s consideration.

In architectural lighting, so much of the discussion becomes about the light fixture and not about the light you are creating with that fixture. By starting, not with lighting fixture cut-sheets, but with lighting concept images, we can focus the discussion on the concept we’re trying to achieve, and worry later about finding the right fixtures. Education can break down preconceptions.

We can find satisfactory LED solutions for more layers of the design — under-cabinet lighting, downlighting, step lighting, night lights, some landscape lighting. We’re integrating uplights into kitchen millwork so we can generate higher levels of light in a work area. Because the lighting is on top of millwork, you’re not aware of the source, so long as the color quality and dimming are good.

One of our residential projects hopes to be zero net energy. We’re using coves and architectural slots to conceal fluorescent sources. It’s crisp, clean and lineal. We’re embracing the linear nature of the sources by introducing linear elements into the design. We’re putting an emphasis on decorative fixtures that are designed to use compact fluorescent sources without looking like they’re fluorescents. We’re also using indirect LED lighting in coves. There’s still some halogen lighting, but we’re keeping it to a minimum, to where we just need focused light.

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