SPECIAL REPORT: Lighting, LED and Legislation
- Oct 06, 2011
By Diana Mosher, Editor-in-Chief
Toronto—Unlike the old Edison incandescent light bulbs, LED lights don’t suddenly burn out. “It’s a gradual process,” says Robert Horner, director of public policy for the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). “They fade away, getting dimmer and dimmer. That’s why a standard is needed for defining the life of the product.” This is the role of the (IES) which is tasked with helping the lighting industry and the public make a smooth transition to new light sources such as LED.
Standards are changing around the globe. Many governments are proposing that incandescent light bulbs be phased out in an effort to switch over to more energy-efficient lighting alternatives like compact fluorescent lamps and LED lamps. Brazil and Venezuela began their phase-outs in 2005; the European Union and Australia began in 2009; Argentina, Russia and Canada in 2012; and the United States in 2014. Despite the promises of energy savings, the program has stirred controversy due to the potential for mercury pollution.
Experts at the Lighting Legislation media lunch organized by GE Lighting during GreenBuild 2011 shared a surprising statistic. According to the panel, only 35-40 percent of consumers are aware that incandescent bulbs are being phased out—so education and outreach are clearly needed. And, to help the public feel comfortable about new products being rolled out, according to Shelli Sedlak, GE Lighting’s North American Specification Engineering Team Manager, Federal Trade Commission labeling requirements will be implemented. “It’s the same concept as nutrition facts on [food products].”
GE Lighting’s full line of light-emitting diode (LED) GE Energy Smart® incandescent replacement bulbs are anticipated to be on store shelves within the next 16 months. This November marks the arrival of the 13-watt GE Energy Smart LED, a dimmable 60-watt incandescent replacement bulb. GE’s dimmable 75-watt and 100-watt replacement LED bulbs—likely 18-watt and 27-watt products, respectively—are expected to arrive on store shelves in late 2012. All the bulbs will deliver light for over two decades based on three hours of use per day.
Right now about 70 percent of the energy being consumed in North America is used by commercial and residential buildings. We will need to reduce that amount drastically in the coming years. Horner noted that lighting affects us in a much broader way than other energy guzzlers like air conditioning. “Whether you have very low light levels—or very high levels—somehow the human eye adapts. But, improper lighting affects productivity and shapes our perception of how comfortable we feel in a space.” And the older we get, the more light we need. Next year the IES will host a symposium that addresses “Lighting and Aging.” Horner added, “We’ll be looking at how do we give the aging population the extra lighting they need while still staying within efficient energy guidelines.”
Other trends the panelists will be watching: an increased use of daylighting and LEDs; net zero energy buildings; and wind and other recoverable energy sources. From now and through 2020 they expect to see even more regulations including energy regulations on LEDs. Anything that uses power—motors, air conditioning, refrigerators—will be looked at every five to six years. Also, they noted that the price and availability of rare earth elements from China will likely affect the pricing of lighting products going forward.
Following the panel discussion, GE Energy Industrial Solutions announced a new partnership with Inovateus Solar, a U.S. solar-power distribution and integration company, to build new solar carports with electric vehicle (EV) chargers.
GE Energy Industrial Solutions collaborated with Inovateus this year to build a 100-kilowatt-hour solar carport at its Plainville, Conn., facility. It can generate enough energy to offset the power needed to charge up to 13 electric vehicles per day, using the six installed Level 2 GE DuraStation EV charging stations, as well as all the overhead lighting in the parking lot. The new partnership will make this turnkey solar carport solution available to a variety of facilitis including universities, municipalities, office buildings and sports complexes.