LEDs and automated control technologies identified as keys to lighting efficiency

Lux Research has released new research that identifies lighting as the best target for energy savings in commercial buildings, and LEDs and automated control technologies as the keys to maximum savings.

According to Lux Research, lighting accounts for 20% of the electricity usage in commercial buildings and therefore is the top target when organizations seek to curb energy usage. Lux estimates that by 2020, automated control technologies combined with LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) and more efficient fluorescent lamps can reduce lighting electricity use by 60%.

“With the potential cost savings that new technologies like LEDs afford, advanced building illumination is on track for rapid and sizeable adoption, which spells opportunities across markets,” said Michael LoCascio, a Senior Analyst for Lux Research. “If you want to improve a building’s energy efficiency, lighting is the first thing you should look at because it’s comparatively easy and inexpensive to update.”

Lighting efficiency is especially important given the ramp in commercial building space. Lux estimates that the developed world is adding commercial buildings at the rate of 11.3 billion square feet per year. The company believes that today electricity for lighting costs $174 billion globally, but that the number can drop to $119 billion by 2020 even with the ramp in building space.

The report "The Future is so bright: Energy, carbon, and cost savings through better lighting" highlights the role LEDs and automated control technologies will play. Lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, lighting sensors, and fixtures that can be dimmed and controlled remotely can reduce lighting energy by 60%. Today such controls are in 12% of buildings but will be in 30% by 2020.

LED explosion in 2014

Lux projects that LED-based SSL will "explode onto the scene in 2014." The analyst firm reports that SSL will begin to supplant T8 fluorescent in 2014 despite the fact that today the LED-based T8s are not performing well. Lux projects that by 2020, LEDs will provide 60% of the light in commercial buildings and 42% of the light in the residential market.

Lux does warn that the early deployments of more-efficient lighting may ironically slow adoption later on. The report suggests that electrical rates will stagnate or drop as lighting efficiency improves over the next decade. That could lengthen the payback period associated with efficient lighting deployment and actually slow the momentum.

Of course the industry has already begun to ramp controllable SSL technologies recognizing the same trends that the Lux report highlights. Start-up companies such as Redwood Systems and Digital Lumens are pushing such technology for office and industrial spaces respectively (see related articles at right). Digital Lumens even released an energy savings calculator that allows facility managers to project lighting costs over five years based on different lighting types.

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