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Critical Electric Systems Group

I’ve been watching the commercial construction and facilities management industry for more years than I care to report.  Makes me think the tools I entered the trade with are probably considered collectables now. I didn’t say antique, just to be clear, I’m not that old.

In all that time, I don’t believe I’ve seen a situation with as fast and complete adoption as that of LED lighting. It has also shown what a collaboration between government, manufacturers and commercial facilities leaders can do. Not only haven’t I seen these groups work so well together before, but each stands to enjoy great benefit from the results of all the collaboration.

Briefly it goes like this. The Department of Energy just announced new standards for General Service Lamps (which in DOE language means light bulbs including LEDs and CFLs). The proposed standard comes after two years of study seeking to increase the affordability, efficiency and reliability of lighting for both residential and commercial use. While we have until the middle of April to forward comments to the DOE, the feeling among all parties is this is a standard which will benefit manufacturers and us, the users of bulbs.

LEDs are a Win for Commercial Facilities and a Win for Manufacturers

Imagine a technology fully supported by government agency policies with so many benefits for everyone.

Here are the numbers that back up what we all know as advantages of LEDs

  • LEDs require 80% less power to deliver the same amount of light as an incandescent.
  • LED bulbs last longer. One LED outlives 25 incandescent bulbs.
  • LEDs are less costly to operate. That one LED uses only $26 in electricity vs. the 25 incandescent bulbs which require $129 to light them.
  • LED bulb prices have come down to near incandescent and CFL prices. The first LEDs came with a $100 price tag, today you can get one for less than $5 at full bore retail.

LEDs Save More Than Money

No matter what you believe about our effects on environment, you’ve got to say these figures can’t be a bad thing.

  • LEDs in use today have been credited with saving 7.1 metric tons of CO2 emissions and a savings of $1.4 billion in energy costs.
  • On the consumer side, LEDs have saved 52 million tons of CO2 equal to the annual CO2 production of 7.2 million homes. Their familiarity is one reason they’ll be more likely to encourage you to build or retrofit to LEDs.
  • The new standards proposed by the DOE can save $9 billion on utility and bulb costs over the next 30 years.

Sure, we see real savings in both fixtures and energy use. The Energy Information Administration has tracked energy usage for lighting at almost 20% of utility costs. In the last year they published figures, the EIA said that the 20% of electric power amounted to 262 billion kWh. Now any savings you can make in that segment of spending will save some serious operating cost. Since I don’t think we’ll ever be able to train tenants to turn off the light when they’re not being used, the savings from efficient LEDs is welcome.

Manufactures have already started the move to LEDs as a new standard. LEDs already have 31% of the $82.1 billion global lighting market, although the US is not yet at the same level as either Europe or China. But there is movement. GE is leaving the incandescent and coiled CFL business due to superior LED performance, and I assume, sales. Worldwide cutting edge retailer, IKEA is selling only LED lamp fixtures. And closer to home, the National Electrical Manufactures Association announced that shipments for LED lights increased 237% in the third quarter of 2015 over the same period in 2014.

Savings are just the beginning

You can expect a pretty fast total ROI and ongoing savings in operating costs with LEDs. You can also get a slew of choices in fixture design, applications and bulb specifications. It makes moving forward in any lighting technology other than LED like using my treasured, collectable tools. Sure you could do it, but why go through the hassle. And why pass up the advantages in technology, the features you could add and the design opportunities.

Manufacturers have not only started producing more LED fixtures, they’re making it easier to convert or retrofit to existing frames and spaces. Some retrofit applications are so smooth that LEDs fit existing fixtures minimizing or eliminating work to repair or re-face installations. Probably only those of us who know about commercial lighting were aware that the 2015 SuperBowl was lit with LEDs.

The flexibility, networking capability, wireless potential and good old innovation and design will mean we’ll be seeing more LED specifications in more projects and for more applications. We have seen the earliest indications of LEDs in Li-Wi, (wireless with light), indoor positioning (LED luminaries plus smartphones to provide shopping data to retailers), dynamic color feature which offers changes in color, tint or tone so you can spotlight events, seasons, building use, or unique building lighting displays.

We think it won’t be long before we’ll use LEDs with the ability to shift color to improve lighting where LEDs weren’t invited before, like restaurants, museums, homes, and retail venues. Their flexibility also allows them to even mimic the golden color of incandescent bulbs, so if that’s what you want we can do it for you.

We’ll be eager to help you in planning, sourcing equipment, installation and managing your new system to get the maxim savings, fastest ROI and most flexible features of LED lighting. I’m sure I won’t be using my now collectible tools, but I’m sure I could.