STRATEGIES IN LIGHT SPOTLIGHT — Keynote marks the evolution of SSL from a designer’s stance

Dec. 12, 2018
Strategies in Light keynote speaker Nancy Clanton links early SSL encounters with technology improvements that support designers’ goals for high-performance lighting which elevates the human experience.
Strategies in Light Keynote speaker Nancy Clanton, CEO of Clanton & Associates, has established a unique presence in the lighting world. Just reviewing her credentials and certifications, one can intuit that she has worked to develop a design practice that raises the level of expectations on the products, service, and sustainability involved in each lighting project. Indeed, the design consultancy states its mission as “to create elegant lighting designs, inspiring the human spirit, integrating daylight and electric light in responsive ways, enhancing performance and productivity and environmental health.”

An advocate for incorporating Dark Sky principles into outdoor lighting design, Clanton has presented at many Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Street and Area Lighting Conferences, as well as at a landmark 2012 Seattle symposium that demonstrated the results of an intensive roadway lighting test in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), which has been covered by LEDs Magazine and is still referred to by experts in solid-state lighting (SSL) R&D and consultancy firms. She has also led informational webcasts and past presentations at Strategies in Light. At the upcoming 2019 event in Las Vegas, Clanton’s Keynote will delve into the past experiences of designers and manufacturers with early LED lighting, and how such lessons provided opportunities for improved development and commercialization of SSL products. Clanton will also explore more recent technical challenges and design questions, as well as what the SSL community may expect in the future. Join us at Strategies in Light for complete illumination on this topic.

LEDs Magazine: Your keynote talk at Strategies in Light is titled “Memories, Reality, and Dreams.” In terms of the “memories,” what was your initial encounter and experience like with LEDs in your design practice? How did that experience impact your design approach?

Nancy Clanton: Our initial encounter was one of excitement and frustration. Excitement with the compact size (incorporating in architectural elements), long distance throw (light grazing), and of course the low energy use and long life. Our frustration happened almost immediately when issues such as heat management (overheating in tight spaces) and driver reliability (drivers died immediately, and had to be replaced several times in the first few months) [arose].

We felt that we were teaching the manufacturers on the pitfalls, at the expense of our client frustrations with repeated failures. Fortunately, we had used a reputable manufacturer who replaced all the equipment many times, paying for an electrician overtime to work on evenings to resolve the issues.

The experience helped us to better understand heat management issues and how important installation details were. Also, we insisted on independent testing for life expectations. We also got five-year-plus warranties on the equipment, which included both product and labor.

“Our initial encounter was one of excitement and frustration.”
— Nancy Clanton

LEDs: You have been active in a number of programs and organizations dedicated to engineering standards, green technology and design, and other advisory tasks. How have those activities shaped your practice in the application of light?

NC: We have learned to light in layers, using light effectively, which LED technology allows us to do. Instead of relying solely on ambient lighting for all the lighting, surfaces can be lighted with the addition of personal accent lighting to complete the visual scene. Also, the importance of lighting controls to respond to daylighted areas, personal dimming, occupancy/vacancy sensing helps in reducing the overall lighting energy budget.

Photo credit: Underpass lighting designed by Clanton & Associates, a project presented at the annual IES Street and Area Lighting Conference (SALC) in 2015; photography by Sam Koerbel.

LEDs: In terms of the current state of the solid-state lighting market and design practices, what is on your radar as an emerging need for lighting designers that is not yet being addressed? It could be educational/information resources, collaboration, technology, or product development.

NC: Tunable white appears to be gaining more popularity, giving our clients the option of lighting color appearance from neutral to warm depending on preferences. Ideally, spectral tuning would give our projects the ability to adjust color fidelity and gamut. This opens up many opportunities in healthcare and other 24-hour operations to avoid shorter wavelength light that suppresses melatonin during the night. As we learn more about the effects of light and health, spectral tuning would allow us to adjust intensity and spectrum for maximum circadian rhythm entrainment.

Another technology that has been introduced in interior and exterior applications are light guide optics, allowing the LEDs to be hidden in the housing. The light travels through the light guide optics, providing optimal distributions, with minimal glare.

Lighting controls can now change spectrum and intensity, providing ultimate flexibility to end users. In the future, lighting controls could also change the light distribution from wall washing to accent lighting.

Get to know our expert

NANCY CLANTON, PE, FIES, FIALD, and LEED Fellow, is CEO of Clanton & Associates, a lighting design firm specializing in sustainable and regenerative design. Clanton is a member of the National Academy of Science committee on the assessment of solid-state lighting; International Standards Organization (ISO) 205 WG 7 leader; and a member of the WELL Building Light advisory group. She has served on the USGBC LEED Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group, was lighting group leader for Greening of the White House, led the lighting workshops for the C40 conference in Seoul, and was twice awarded the IES Presidential Award. Clanton has also received the 2018 Edison Report Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014 ACEC Colorado Outstanding Woman Engineer Award, and the International CleanDesign Award, and serves on the LEDs Magazine Sapphire Awards judging panel.