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5 green lighting trends to watch

By Bridget
McCrea

 

Rebates,
federal tax incentives, higher energy bills, and the desire to operate in a
“greener” manner are driving building owners to rethink the way they light
their buildings, institutions, offices, and even their own homes. With lighting
accounting for nearly 38 percent of the total electrical energy usage in the
average commercial office building, according
to OSRAM Sylvania
, the business case for energy-efficient lighting is hard
to ignore.

The green
lighting trend isn’t new, but there are a few updated developments that
electrical distributors will want to pay attention to this year. Some of the
trends are informative while others can help distributors position themselves
as the “go to” source for green lighting upgrades and new projects. Here are
five to keep an eye on in 2013:

  1. This
    year’s LIGHTFAIR show will be an “LED Fair
    .” Expect an LED fest at the annual show, which will be held in
    Philadelphia April 23-25. “All the buzz right now around sustainable and green
    is focused on LED,” says Paul Markee, general manager at Ft. Worth, Texas-based AZZ, Inc., which will unveil a number of new
    LED fixtures at this year’s event. Markee says the trend is being driven by end
    users who want to conserve energy and manufacturers who are answering the call
    with a host of new LED products designed to do just that. “Everyone wants to
    replace existing fluorescent fixtures with products that not only save energy,”
    says Markee, “but that also reduce maintenance costs.”
  2. Retrofits
    will continue their reign
    . With new construction projects getting harder
    and harder to come by, retrofitting existing buildings represents a significant
    opportunity for electrical distributors looking to expand their footprints
    within the green space. “We’ve traditionally focused on new construction but
    the activity right now is in retrofits,” observes Rhett Thomas, sales director,
    electrical channels for Lutron in
    Coopersburg, Pa. Manufacturers have adapted to the market shift by developing
    aftermarket-type products that don’t have to be integrated into the building’s
    original shell to be effective. Lutron’s Energi TriPak wireless energy control
    system, for example, requires no power or communication wiring. “It’s just a
    wall switch,” says Thomas, “and all of the sensing takes place via the
    airwaves.”
  3. Controls
    will gain ground in 2013.
    If a building owner is going to take the time to
    replace the lighting in his or her facility, it just makes sense to add
    controls to the mix. This revelation will hit more owners this year as they strive
    to save money and time. “Adding controls creates even more energy savings,”
    says Rita Renner, director of marketing for WattStopper, a Legrand brand. The interest in controls isn’t
    just user-generated – in some cases, it’s also being buoyed by government
    regulations. With energy codes such as ASHRAE 90.1 requiring controls in
    new construction (and in the 2010 version, retrofits where at least 10 percent
    of the connected lighting load is involved) Renner says the policy behind the
    code requirements is straightforward, “and focused on energy efficiency.”
  4. Customers
    will want better control of outdoor lighting.
    Being “green” isn’t just an
    indoor thing when it comes to lighting. More owners are paying attention to
    outdoor areas that are lit up overnight and figuring out ways to mitigate their
    energy and maintenance costs outside of their four walls. “Outdoor
    controls are big right now,” says Cheryl Ford, marketing manager for OSRAM SYLVANIA in Danvers, Ma. “A lot of
    users are looking to combine white lights and controls to replace the
    high-pressure sodium/yellow lighting in their parking lots.” Also of interest
    are controls that can, say, dim outdoor lights by 40 percent after a supermarket
    or mall shuts down for the night, and then turn them back up again when someone
    pulls into the parking lot after hours. “In many cases,” says Ford, “it just
    doesn’t make sense to have that full brightness on overnight.”
  5. Distributors
    that offer the “complete package” will be the winners.
    Commercial building
    owners and managers don’t want standalone lighting, HVAC, and security systems
    – they want it all in one bundle. They also would like to be able to replace
    traditional bulbs, add ballasts and sensors, and even tap into the power of
    natural daylight. These wants and needs present significant opportunities for
    electrical distributors that can pull together entire packages and serve them
    up on both retrofit and new construction projects. “We’re seeing a big focus on
    integration right now and on seamless solutions that come in a single box,”
    says Thomas, who expects lighting and controls to come under even more scrutiny
    this year as building owners strive to lessen their carbon footprints while also
    becoming more energy efficient. “If you can offer up a complete solution that
    ties in these various elements,” Ford adds, “you can make it easier for your
    customer to put an entire retrofit together quickly and efficiently.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and
educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her
at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or
visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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