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Featured Chapter: Lighting Controls—Design to Avoid Energy Waste

Meet an Author: Craig DiLouie

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Today's commercial building owners are demanding well-designed, energy-efficient lighting systems. Not surprising given that lighting controls can reduce lighting energy consumption by 70% or more in commercial buildings.

Lighting controls play a key role in achieving both good design and energy efficiency—providing the right amount of light where and when it is needed. A well designed lighting control system will help the user minimize energy consumption while also meeting operational needs. And, according to this month's featured author Craig DiLouie, lighting controls are the new "low hanging fruit" when it comes to achieving energy savings.

But wading through the latest control technologies and finding the right balance between good design and efficiency presents a challenge. ALG Online informs these important decisions with guidance on the numerous strategies and equipment choices available—wireless versus digital, manual versus automatic, dimming versus switching systems—to address the visual needs of a space.

Read more about the latest thinking on lighting controls and trends from ALG contributing author, Craig DiLouie, as well as samples of premium ALG Online content from the Lighting Controls chapter, otherwise only available to ALG Online subscribers.

Lighting Controls—Design to Avoid Energy Waste

Why exactly are lighting controls so important? Lighting controls save energy and improve the occupant experience. Since light level is proportionate to energy use, control elements like dimmers and shades, whether automated or not, save energy by adjusting the amount of light in a given space. Occupancy sensors automatically turn off lights when a room or building is vacant.

ALG Online's Lighting Controls chapter offers the basics, as well as explores design strategies, equipment and controls systems, and commissioning and testing practices. With lighting automation becoming more and more popular in green buildings and renovations, the information in this chapter is increasingly valuable.

Visit the Lighting Controls chapter to learn how strategies such as occupancy sensors, scheduling control systems, daylight harvesting controls, manual bi-level switching, multi-level switching and manual dimming all contribute to advanced lighting that addresses visual needs, energy management and demand response. The result? Increased user satisfaction and maximized energy savings.

Click on this icon for a printable PDF about Automatic Controls. Subscribe now to read more of the Lighting Controls section.
ALG Online was created with the help of 23 authors, leading experts in their field, including education, research, engineering, manufacturing, and design. This month, contributing author and lighting expert, Craig DiLouie shares his thoughts on the latest trends and topics in advanced lighting.

Trends to Watch in Lighting Controls

Regulations, the sustainable design movement and commercial building energy codes are promoting ever higher standards of high efficiency for lighting systems. While solid-state lighting develops, policy makers are now looking to lighting controls as the new low-hanging fruit available to achieve energy savings and reduce carbon emissions, with focus going beyond automatic shutoff and space controls and embracing daylight harvesting and bi-level lighting.

Meanwhile, as the smart grid develops, power suppliers will shift to real-time pricing with incentives to building owners to curtail load during emergency grid events increasing demand for dimmable lighting systems. Lighting designs based on best practice are highly controlled to avoid energy waste.

Beyond controls, the big opportunities for the lighting professions and high efficiency lighting are in green construction and relighting existing buildings. Green construction, driven by LEED, now required for public construction in some jurisdictions, is now being codified with California's CALGreen code and introduction and anticipated adoption of model sustainability codes such as ASHRAE 189.1 and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

The existing buildings market, however, represents the biggest opportunity. Many of these buildings were built to older lighting standards and prior to contemporary energy codes, resulting in use of obsolete lighting systems such as T12, over lighted spaces and no automatic shutoff control. Due to energy regulations that largely eliminated the magnetic T12 ballast by 2010 and most 4- and 8-foot linear T12 lamps by 2012, building owners will be forced to upgrade, and will have to choose between compliant electronic T8, T5 and T12 systems. Lighting professionals should advocate a comprehensive relighting approach that addresses issues such as glare, distribution, shadows and color, while saving energy not only through products but superior design and incorporating advanced lighting control.

With the rapid introduction of new technology, this is an exciting time to be in the lighting industry. But good design will always be king, especially now, as new rules and codes squeeze the watts out of lighting and make achieving quality lighting ever more difficult. Those designers that can distinguish themselves by being able to provide high levels of lighting quality for the lowest energy cost will thrive in today's challenging marketplace.

Craig DiLouie is the founder and principal of ZING Communications, which provides lighting industry-focused education, journalism, and marketing services. For more information, visit Craig’s blog and monthly newsletter at and

About ALG Online

ALG Online has been developed by New Buildings Institute (NBI) as part of its Advanced Buildings suite of tools and resources to help design teams and other commercial building professionals create high performance commercial buildings.

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