Government rules prompting growth in LED lighting
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

LED lighting
The California Lighting Technology Center in Davis, CA, is a leader in LED research. The think tank’s projects like this LED demo kitchen, work to benefit the lighting industry as a whole.

Goodbye, filaments; hello, diodes. Now that the technology is ready and the industry is involved, the government is laying the path for a smooth transition into a well-lit and energy-efficient future.

Title 24
“Everything is correct for the LED industry to jump on board,” says Gary Flamm of the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Lighting Program.

Flamm led the 2008 revision of California’s Title 24, legislation originally enacted in 2005 to introduce energy-efficient lighting mandates into the state’s residential building codes. The revised Title 24, which takes effect in August 2009, pushes it a step further, defining the proper way to test LED lighting sources and honing the language to ensure LEDs are truly compliant with Title 24.     

Kevin Gauna, Senior Research Engineer at the California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), describes California’s cooperative LED regulations as a bridge to connect all facets of the industry to the common goal of energy-efficient lighting -- in the Golden State and throughout the nation. State legislators, federal regulators and manufacturers are able to work together with Title 24 as their common ground.

To ensure synergy between California’s legislation and federal standards, Title 24 has clarified the testing requirements based on the Department of Energy’s Energy StarT LM-79-08, a lighting measurement developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) to standardize the testing procedures and measurements of solid-state lighting.

California is also adopting the federal energy standards a year early to create an even more favorable environment for LEDs. (The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates that all new lights use 25 to 30 percent less energy for the same level of light output by 2012.)

“We are excited to see people really grabbing onto [LEDs],” Gauna says. “We don’t have to lower the quality to save energy.”

Though one of the first to jump on the bandwagon, California isn’t the only locale to regulate the use of energy-efficient lighting. Areas throughout the United States are experimenting with ways to make their own communities greener. Gauna suggests lighting retailers look at their city’s residential LED initiatives to stay current at a local level.

On the national stage, the Energy Star Program Requirements for Solid-State Lighting Luminaires Eligibility Criteria Version 1.1 took effect earlier this month. The document creates a distinct differentiation between residential and commercial criteria, explains Kelly Gordon, Program Manager of the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

In August 2008, the PNNL conducted an LED residential lighting demonstration for the DOE’s Office of Building Technologies. The results indicated that LEDs are a dramatic improvement over incandescent and halogen sources from an energy-efficient standpoint. Reports projected consumer payback (based on an electricity cost of 11 cents per kilowatt hour) on LED downlights to be between 7.6 and 13.5 years, and LED undercabinet fixtures from between 4.4 and 7.6 years.

“The consumer needs to look at the total cost of LEDs because of [the technology’s] lifespan, and eventually they do pay for themselves,” says Gauna.

While the report praised LEDs’ energy-saving potential, it also drew attention to the need to improve LED dimming compatibility. Regardless, Gordon sees LEDs as a higher-end product that retailers can up-sell.

“People can have energy-efficient lighting without having to change their styles,” she says.

To further assist the lighting retailer and consumer, the DOE is sponsoring SSL Quality Advocates Lighting Facts, a voluntary program for manufacturers and retailers who deal in LEDs. Using Energy Star LM-79 standards, the Lighting Facts label is a comprehensive and readable marker that affixes to LED fixtures to show efficiency ratings and the type of light emitted.

“This is really the reinvention of the light bulb,” says Gauna. “The direction is absolutely clear from an industry perspective: The transition is going to happen, and it already has started. The trick is doing it right.”

LED innovation competitions

Conceived to fuel interest in creating lighting products that meet energy-efficiency standards while also focusing on aesthetic appeal, established LED design competitions are upping the ante for this year’s go-around.

Both the DOE’s L Prize and the Lighting for Tomorrow SSL competition -- a joint venture between the American Lighting Assn., the DOE and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency -- are well underway for 2009, with new features that organizers say will enhance the contests’ appeal.

Following its 2008 debut, the Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize -- or L Prize, for short -- recently announced that nine new organizations and utilities have committed to support and promote its winners. The upshot is that the contest now wields the influence of 16 partners coast to coast and is in position to accelerate the development of LED replacement technologies in a big way.

It won’t be an easy victory, however; requirements and testing procedures for each entry are ultra stringent, and after all, $20 million in prize money is up for grabs.

Kelly Gordon, Program Manager of the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is hopeful that the contest will secure an entry in the near future.

“There is a hefty indication we’ll get at least one entry sometime this year,” she says. “There is a lot of interest, and many [potential entrants] are sending in questions.”

The Lighting for Tomorrow SSL competition, on the other hand, promises at least a few prizewinners in 2009. The contest, now in its fourth year, has launched a new call for solid-state lighting applications that go beyond simple directional fixtures. Submissions must be registered by March, and entries are due April 24. Winners will be announced at the ALA conference in September.

For more information on these LED design competitions, visit and

LED Education
While large industry events, like Lightfair Intl. and Greenbuild, are excellent opportunities to soak in some information on the inner workings of LEDs, some folks are lucky enough to find valuable educational opportunities in their own backyard.

The Designers Lighting Forum of New York has partnered with the Illuminating Engineering Society of New York for the third year in a row to bring locals a unique informational program on LEDs called LEDucation. Featuring product exhibits,
a prestigious design competition, and two LED basics seminars, the event is open to all industry professionals
and will be held Wednesday, March 11, at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York.

For more information or to register for the event, visit

WHAT: LEDucation III
WHERE: Hotel Pennsylvania, New York City
WHEN: Wednesday, March 11
WHO: Lighting industry professionals and students
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: LED seminars are eligible for continuing education credits.

LED Updates
To stay up-to-date on residential LED legislation, check out the following Web sites:
-- DOE SSL “Using LEDs for General Illumination” Fact Sheets
-- DOE CALiPER Section for Product Test Results
-- Energy Star
-- California Energy Commission
-- The Lighting Portal
-- SSL Quality Advocates Lighting Facts

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