Industry partners lead the way to better buildings via integrated lighting and controls

Sept. 6, 2022
AXEL PEARSON summarizes the key attributes of the projects and partners recognized in the 2022 Integrated Lighting Campaign, part of the DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Buildings Integrated Lighting Campaign (ILC) recently recognized 18 commercial organizations, industry associations, consultancies, and industry programs that have exhibited leadership in adopting advanced lighting controls and integrating lighting with other building systems to improve energy efficiency and performance. These partners, along with the 20 recognized in 2021, demonstrate that integrated lighting systems are enabling deeper energy savings in buildings and creating an enhanced user and occupant experience.

The 2022 campaign year was a marked success with a total of 26 submissions. The Integrated Lighting Campaign team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) evaluated, summarized, and presented all the entries to the ILC Organizing Committee, along with recommendations for recognition. Comprising seven lighting industry-leading organizations, the committee reviewed the submissions and either supported or opposed recommendations. After deliberation among organizers and addressing of questions and comments by the ILC team, the committee approved recognition of 18 selected participants and supporters, which were announced at the annual Illuminating Engineering Society Conference in August.

Among this year’s recognized partners include those that employ exemplary advanced lighting controls, such as luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC), robust wireless mesh networks, and labor-saving wireless commissioning. ILC partners also integrated lighting with their buildings’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems by using lighting sensors to provide temperature and occupancy data to the building management system, as well as integrating with other systems such as asset location using real-time location services. New recognition categories this year brought into the campaign horticultural integration in greenhouses and innovative financial models, such as lighting-as-a-service (LaaS), to help fund lighting controls upgrades. Finally, supporters of the ILC were recognized for exemplary efforts related to integrated lighting, including those supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and energy justice.

DOE recognized 15 organizations this year as ILC participants:

  • Association of General Contractors (Seattle, Wash.). This office building replaced legacy lighting to LED lighting with virtually all LLLC, allowing for 474,000 kWh annual savings from reduction in fixtures, high-end trim, more efficient luminaires, and controls implementation. Partnering ILC Supporters: Seattle City Light
  • Chicago Smart Lighting Program (Chicago, Ill.). The city undertook a massive streetlight modernization project, converting more than 280,000 high-pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights to high-efficiency LED lights. Beyond improving the quality of nighttime visibility throughout the city, the project is expected to save taxpayers $100 million in electricity costs over the next decade. Partnering ILC Supporters: Ameresco
  • Columbia University, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (New York, N.Y.). This higher-education facility upgraded to LED lighting with LLLC that provides automatic dimming, customized light zones, and individual control rather than using a set lumen output throughout the space. The upgrade saves 919,000 kWh and $28,200 per year in maintenance costs.
  • Gabus Automotive, Gabus Auto Dealership Campus (Des Moines, Iowa). This auto dealership employs a motion-activated outdoor lighting system for a campus of auto dealerships. The advanced sensors saved energy, improved safety/security, and reduced impact to the neighboring community from light spill. Partnering ILC Supporters: Enlighten Solutions, LLC
  • Holt Public Schools (Holt, Mich.). A K–12 school district installed nearly 10,000 LED luminaires and retrofit kits, almost 8,000 Bluetooth communicating devices, and 9,000 lighting control devices. The installation helped deliver on the district’s sustainability goals, saving 64% of the energy used by the previous fluorescent lighting system. Partnering ILC Supporters: Avi-on Labs, Espen Technology, Trane Technologies
  • Home Innovation Research Labs, Inc. (Upper Marlboro, Md.). This research facility’s team retrofitted the lighting in its administrative building and laboratory spaces with LED luminaires and LLLC with occupancy and daylight harvesting capabilities, saving 564,000 kWh and $4,500 on maintenance costs annually. Partnering ILC Supporter: Citizen-Energy
  • Missouri Slope, New Skilled Nursing Facility (Bismarck, N.D.). The long-term care provider installed LED lighting with multiple sensor types: passive infrared with motion detection, photocell for daylight harvesting, and a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) receiver that enables location of assets and personnel equipped with Bluetooth tags or badges. Partnering ILC Supporters: Cooper Lighting Solutions
  • MRA Group, Spring House Innovation Park (Lower Gwynedd Township, Pa.). This research campus installed exterior LED lighting across parking lots, walking paths, and courtyard spaces, with wireless advanced controls enabling detailed scheduling over 35 zones and dimming based on occupancy. Partnering ILC Supporters: McWong International
  • North Bakersfield Toyota (Bakersfield, Calif.). An auto dealership installed a networked lighting control system in its parking lots and maintenance bays utilizing LLLC to control light levels to accommodate nighttime working hours use and improve after-hours security. Partnering ILC Supporters: Silvair, LinmoreLED
  • Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (Portland, Ore.). NEEA headquarters is an office building with upgraded LED lighting and LLLC that uses color tuning to provide a more comfortable lighting environment for occupants and wireless commissioning for easy installation.
  • Seed Capital (Phoenix, Ariz.). This mixed-use facility installed new LEDs and uses lighting occupancy sensors to trigger an HVAC system reset to standby mode during unoccupied times, allowing the temperature in the room to rise to a predetermined level, saving an estimated 120,000 kWh per year, in addition to about 85,500 kWh saved from the lighting upgrade. Partnering ILC Supporters: Trane Technologies, Eco Engineering, Inc.
  • The link (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.). This coworking facility employs a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) lighting system that delivers lighting power density of less than 0.15W/ft2. The sensors transfer temperature and motion data to a building management system which allows thermostat setpoints to be adjusted based on occupancy. Partnering ILC Supporters: smartengine
  • University of Vermont, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Burlington, Vt.). The university greenhouse team installed a control system to automate and monitor HVAC, lighting, and climate curtains, which provide shading and a thermal layer to reduce heating and cooling loads. The control system records historical trend data that can be used to ensure systems maintain ideal conditions for plant health and energy efficiency. Partnering ILC Supporters: Resource Innovation Institute
  • Vertical Harvest Farms (Jackson, Wyo.). This vertical farm is served by an integrated control system that manages horticultural lighting, HVAC, and watering processes to optimize resource use — for example, a light sensor operates the lights when needed and disables them when sunlight is sufficient to meet crop daily light integral (DLI) targets. Partnering ILC Supporters: Resource Innovation Institute
  • Yamaha Motor Corporation, Midwestern Distribution Center (Pleasant Prairie, Wis.). A distribution center implemented a wireless control network and commissioning software tools along with its lighting upgrade, which eases commissioning and retro-commissioning, as well as saving 250,000 kWh annually.

Three partners were also recognized by the DOE for their role in supporting integrated lighting and controls, particularly with regard to DEI and environmental or energy stewardship.

McWong International (Sacramento, Calif.) was recognized as a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion. More than 50% of the company’s U.S.-based workforce are from Asian, Southeast Asian, or Hispanic ethnicities and nearly 70% of its U.S.-based workforce are from underserved or underrepresented communities. McWong is recognized by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council as a woman-owned business and by National Minority Supplier Development Council as a minority-owned business.

Puget Sound Energy (Bellevue, Wash.) has promoted and provided incentives for customers to install LLLC luminaires for five years. To date, the utility has incentivized more than 75 projects with over 11,000 LLLC luminaires installed in manufacturing, office, warehouse, retail, workshop, and school spaces resulting in more than 2,230,000 kWh saved from the controls alone.

Resource Innovation Institute (Portland, Ore.) promotes advanced controlled environment agriculture systems such as LED horticultural lighting and controls and automation systems. They publish free, brand-agnostic, and peer-reviewed best practices guides, and host live educational workshops nationally and specialized for regions with active CEA markets, including the 2022 Resilient Harvests Conference.

The Integrated Lighting Campaign is gearing up for its third year and will seek similar projects/efforts for recognition. Visit the Integrated Lighting Campaign website to learn more about the campaign and for additional insights into the recognized initiatives.

Get to know our expert

AXEL PEARSON joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2022 as an energy efficiency project manager, supporting the Energy Efficiency Technologies team with a focus on energy efficient lighting and controls. Prior to PNNL, he worked for the DesignLights Consortium leading the Solid-State Lighting Program and developing DLC's technical requirements. Pearson also has experience with codes and standards development, lighting auditing, utility incentive programs, and energy education. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in Environmental Studies, a master's degree in Environmental Management from the University of San Francisco and is Lighting Certified by the NCQLP.

Not-for-profit market transformation programs combine LEDification and controls for greatest energy benefits

Back in March, Axel Pearson and I discussed what set the Integrated Lighting Campaign apart from other programs. The mission of the DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative is to improve awareness and uptake of energy-efficiency technologies that can be adopted across a wide swath of application environments. At that time, Pearson explained that ILC aims to translate Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientists’ passion for functional and energy-efficient design into actionable insights and hands-on consultation for lighting and controls industry stakeholders in order to achieve building decarbonization and sustainability objectives. ILC recognizes the outcomes of such efforts.

ILC is just one of multiple U.S. initiatives and programs that demonstrate the kinetic power of likeminded individuals to stimulate improved design and implementation of lighting and associated systems in the built environment. The initial motivation behind the DOE’s L-Prize or Lighting Prize program was to improve delivery of light — and reduce energy consumption — from ubiquitous A-lamps by corralling the properties of LED light sources through advances in optics, materials, thermal management, and integrated power electronics. The latest L-Prize iteration has evolved to embrace and promote the next generation of high-performance solid-state lighting that is more accessible, functional, and even proactive in securing our energy future. This past summer, PNNL lighting specialist Kate Hickcox revealed that the L-Prize Concept Phase generated participation from organizations outside of the established lighting industry — a boon in terms of creative problem-solving approaches — as well as known players who stepped up their design game to focus on modularity, reusability or upgradeability, and other factors to balance the costs of lighting upgrades and replacements.

Meanwhile, the DesignLights Consortium has extended its Technical Requirements for Qualified Product Lists beyond lumens-per-watt efficacy of luminaires over a period of several years. Considerations such as interoperability and compatibility with existing communications protocols have influenced the development of the Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) revisions, as well as its technical requirements for Solid-State Lighting and Horticultural Lighting with regard to control parameters and dimming features that help generate fewer wasted photons — and therefore reduce both energy consumption and stray light.

Environmental conditions, climate change, and demands on energy resources are driving LED lighting implementation. Continued recognition of real-world value and progress in integrated lighting and controls use cases can only further move the market toward collective improvement in product development and practice, help to inform policy, and expand the lighting economy beyond the fixture sale to modularity, circular concepts, and services that sustain business. — Carrie Meadows

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About the Author

Axel Pearson | Energy Efficiency Project Manager, PNNL

AXEL PEARSON joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2022 as an energy efficiency project manager, supporting the Energy Efficiency Technologies team with a focus on energy efficient lighting and controls. Prior to PNNL, he worked for the DesignLights Consortium leading the Solid-State Lighting Program and developing DLC's technical requirements.