Energy Star shines in Canada

June 3, 2009
Attendees at the Energy Star Participants Meeting and National Lighting Summit in Canada shared valuable thoughts on the US programs and SSL lighting development.
DOE's Jim Brodrick Ottawa, Canada hosted two days of lighting meetings on May 25 and 26, commencing with the Canadian ENERGY STAR Participants Meeting and followed by the National Lighting Summit.

During the proceedings of the first day of the Participants Meeting, attendees heard from Marc Hoffman of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), who presented its “Save More with ENERGY STAR”-tiered ENERGY STAR “plus” program, and Keith Stewart of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), who presented its Topten program. All great intentions and thoughts, but I will share with you one thought of mine: “Save the environment, confuse the consumer!”

The National Lighting Summit
On the second day, at the National Lighting Summit, Pierrette LeBlanc of Natural Resources Canada's (NRCan) Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) outlined Canadian SSL activities, in past including traffic signals, exit signs and decorative lights strings or Christmas lights and current activities including Nova Scotia's LED Streetlighting Conversion Project. The project will demonstrate and monitor the energy efficiency, light efficacy and maintenance of LED Roadway Lighting Ltd's newly designed LED street and roadway light fixtures.

Current activities also include Toronto's LightSavers, a market transforming consortium that will develop a living laboratory for pilot testing and multiple pathways for commercializing outdoor lighting applications utilizing LED technologies and intelligent control systems. LightSavers takes it roots from the founding groundwork completed by Toronto's greenTbiz at Exhibition Place and other locations throughout Toronto.

Other projects include the Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI) Outdoor Lighting Working Group's efforts to identify and support projects deemed important to the adoption of energy savings products used with outdoor lighting in parking and streetlight applications and the National Research Council (NRC) Canada project to develop a new concept for the office of the future using SSL.

LeBlanc also commented on possible future activities, such as an SSL procurement guide, which is already underway and being readied for a fall release by my organization, greenTbiz, for municipal indoor and outdoor, as well as private sector general lighting specifiers.

Lighting labeling
The findings of a recent public focus group and opinion research into the confusing issues of lighting labeling were presented. However, without any evident conclusions, the research presentation was more confusing than the issues. The redeeming part was that another presentation regarding labeling, given by Hampton Newsome, a lawyer with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), soon followed. Newsome's concise presentation was compelling and strong. Humorously but concluding with a serious purpose, he commented that, when they (the FTC) are not busy suing people, a great amount of thought is placed on the presentation of information that will educate and satisfy the needs of the consumer while presenting and preserving truth in advertising. In Canada, consumers are protected by Industry Canada regulations, but it is well known that the FTC has much larger and sharper teeth that cut deep into those disseminating misleading advertising.

This will be ever so important with respect to SSL. Currently programs such as Lighting Facts offer the buyer a true representation of an SSL product’s performance and the ability to compare product to product with concise and easily identifiable graphic representation. Approved by the FTC, the entire lighting industry may be required to comply with a similar approach to labeling in future with the Lighting Facts label paving the way.

It is highly evident that one of the main concerns and issues is the relating of the “quantity” of light, currently expressed and perceived as watts when in fact watts is a measure of input power and lumens are the appropriate measure of light output. It seems to be a case of what to tell, but most definitely “watt” not to tell.

Attendees participated in a labeling exercise, where they were asked to discuss and rationalize elements and graphic representations that could be included in the label. I had the pleasure of having both Terry McGowan of the American Lighting Association (ALA) and Hampton Newsome of the FTC in our group. Commons concern were the consideration of SSL in labeling plans and regulations and the quantity of information to be related on small packaging or as it is termed 'real estate' to the manufacturers and their package designers, especially in the Canadian market, where there must be a provision for both English and French official languages.

DOE's Brodrick stresses CALiPER
Jim Brodrick from the US Department of Energy (DOE) gave an exceptional presentation, highlighting and reviewing the many SSL support programs administered and delivered by the DOE, such as ENERGY STAR for SSL, CALiPER, GATEWAY and Lighting Facts. Brodrick took the time to recognize Canadian partners in the programs who were in attendance, including manufacturers such as CRS Electronics and GO Lighting, both ENERGY STAR and Lighting Facts Partners, and energy efficiency program, greenTbiz, which is not only an ENERGY STAR and Lighting Facts energy efficiency organization partner, but Canada's only L Prize Partner. In closing, Brodrick invited Canadian participation in DOE activities and extended an invitation to the upcoming Manufacturing Workshop in Vancouver, WA, in June and the Market Introduction Workshop in Chicago, IL, in July.

When speaking with Brodrick directly, he reminded me of the importance of the CALiPER program, stating, “To date, still less than three out of 10 manufacturer claims are accurate, making CALiPER an excellent resource tool for the prospective buyer to vet product claims.”

Throughout the day, many attendees surrounded Brodrick, engaging in discussion and posing questions, with many attendees being avid followers of his Postings series of emails. greenTbiz maintained a tabletop display with the DOE program literature and products from Canadian companies CRS Electronics and GO Lighting as examples of products associated with the CALiPER, ENERGY STAR and the Next Generation Lighting Design Competition (NGLDC) programs. Many attendees visited the display and picked up program literature.

As a Canadian myself and after Natural Resources Canada inviting the SSL program development masters to share their wealth of knowledge, it is time for the Federal Office of Energy Efficiency, Provincial energy ministries, utilities and energy efficiency organizations to step up and support these SSL initiatives in Canada.

Guy Newsham of NRC Canada gave an a rather enlightening view into the office of the future employing SSL technologies such as LED and OLED, where instead of lighting the space, the space or even office furniture will become the light and you will light the task rather than the entire space.

An SSL pathway for Canada
A concluding group discussion breakout/session dealt with the development of an SSL pathway for Canada. Attendees were asked to review and refine the following Vision statement:

"Solid State Lighting fills a steadily increasing proportion of lighting needs in Canada. Industry produces ever-more attractive and functional products, featuring better and better efficacy and covering more and more applications. Market barriers are overcome so that these products are able to capture an increasing market share that reflects their energy savings and their suitability for each application."

In a perfect world, this statement does say it all -- and if I click my heels together three times, I might be in Kansas.

At LEDs 2008, Terry McGowan from the ALA commented in his presentation as to what was required for the acceptance of SSL product as follows, "Stylish, marketable, functional and available at a price that end-users (consumers) will pay.” McGowan summed it up perfectly by indicating desired features at an affordable price.

Attendees were asked to assess the barriers to greater deployment of SSL and strategies to overcome the barriers to market for SSL. Although the normal barriers are availability of technology, product on the shelves, codes, standards, cost, awareness, understanding, identifying performance and quality, light degradation and failure, and overall expectations and perceptions, the key issues at this point are compromise and sacrifice, two things that shouldn't even be considered, as SSL cannot be expected to be purchased on price. Al Ruud of BetaLED has said many times in presentations that compromise and sacrifice is unnecessary.

Affordable costs is a big barrier
One of the greatest barriers to overcome at this point is first costs, either through advancements in manufacturing and technology, supply and demand, payback and lifecycle cost analysis or through government and utility incentives and rebates, but without compromise or sacrifice when it comes to performance and quality, despite the perceived “wishes” of presidential environmental initiatives organizations that promote price over performance.

Technology will take its course and price will come down, but in the interim we need government and utilities to step up at the commercial level first to incent products into the commercial marketplace that will increase demand and production, decrease the price and ready the technology for mass consumer markets where incentives and rebates will still be required, but likely much less.

You can create all of the wonderful awareness and education programs, but they must go hand in hand with available, acceptable and affordable product. Awareness and education will hopefully prevent the end user from acquiring the 'bad stuff'. Great US DOE programs such as CALiPER, ENERGY STAR for SSL and Lighting Facts are now doing exactly this. Retail merchandiser buyers are also being educated as to 'what and what not' to put on the shelves.

Keping this in mind, attendees shared some valuable thoughts, keying in that incentives and rebates are a high priority.

EPA still involved?
The eventful two days were completed with new ideas being shared and great networking opportunities with US agency representatives, with the only question left unaddressed to answer, being whether Canada supports the DOE ENERGY STAR for SSL or the EPA's diluted version.

(Note: At just about the same time last year at 2008's ENERGY STAR Participants Meeting, I received notice of the issuance of the EPA's ENERGY STAR for RLF 4.2 [Residential Light Fixtures Eligibility Criteria: fixtures using LED light engines can now qualify as Energy Star, however recessed cans are not eligible in the EPA version], at which point the program began to run afoul. This year, there was no mention of the RLF 4.2; maybe the EPA has run aground even here in Canada.)