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Sustainable Design - "Green Lighting"


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  Sustainable Design - "Green Lighting"
by Stan Pomeranz

“Green Lights” is an innovative program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encourage U.S. corporations to install energy-efficient lighting technologies.

The Benefits of Energy-Efficient Lighting

“Lighting accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the electricity used annually in the United States. If energy-efficient lighting was used everywhere it was profitable, the electricity required for lighting would be cut by 50 percent and aggregate national electricity demand would be reduced by 10 percent. Energy savings would exceed $12 billion a year while decreasing air pollution by five percent. This would be equivalent to taking 15 million cars off the road, resulting in less smog, acid rain and a slowing of global climate change.” *

* EPA Green Lights Statement 

Great lighting and Green lighting are compatible goals:

Good lighting takes some basic lighting design principals, knowledge of the equipment and the confidence to put these principles into practice. No one should have to settle for poor lighting to save money. Basic lighting design principles include:

  • Layouts that balance task, ambient and decorative (accent) lighting
  • Reflected light from walls and ceiling expands illumination, reduces glare and enhance space.
  • Task light is essential for best performance.
  • Light is reflected off surfaces. By selecting surface colors and finishes carefully lighting quality can be improved immensely.
  • Controlling daylight can effect and enhance interior light quality.
  • Avoid glare in lighting by shielding light sources, selecting appropriate fixtures and locating them carefully.

 Selection of lamps and fixtures

All too often people select inappropriate fixtures and install the wrong lamps. Recessed fixture lighting can be a successful component of the lighting system. They are specifically engineered for general illumination, wall washing and accent lighting. Selecting the right fixtures, locating them for optimal performance, installing the correct lamp is essential for them to perform the way they were designed.   

A variety of lighting sources are available and should be evaluated for   quality, energy savings and longer life. Halogen is replacing conventional incandescent and fluorescent is becoming an efficient and pleasing alternative. Full spectrum lighting is defined as a light source that replicates natural sunlight. Over the years, studies revealed that not only did this type of light allow people to see colors more accurately, but they were also often able to see details more clearly.  

Lighting from light emitting diodes (LEDs) are definitely in our future for general illumination and the efficiency of this light source is generally accepted. One of the most successful applications in my custom home designs is the incorporation of indirect cove lighting. I have been using an incandescent low voltage source. The results are excellent and people love the effect. This solution utilized 40 watts per foot. I have a new application incorporating LED technology that will accomplish results as good or better utilizing only 2.2 watts per foot. This application has great promise for kitchen counter lighting that is as effective as halogen without the heat and in built in cabinetwork applications because of its size and ease of use.

Chart of Lighting Sources: Watts Lumens* Lamp life* Cost*
Common incandescent lamp 60   W 690 1,000 $ .75
Halogen incandescent 60   W 900 3,000 $ 3.00
Compact fluorescent 16   W 900 10,000 $ 8.00
LED replacement ** 7.5  W 870 50,000 $100.00

*published and or estimated values    **estimate - product not currently available

 Controls put quality lighting when and where you need it

Scene controls are a blueprint for successful quality lighting. Since we use the same space for varying functions and at different times of the day, being able to change the lighting pattern allows for optimal lighting as our needs change. By utilizing such simple controls as dimmers, motions sensors and timers additional savings can be gained without sacrificing quality at little effort and initial cost. Control systems have become simpler and less expensive. Radio frequency devices allow transmitters to be built into fixtures or switches and added or changed without special wiring. Programming is digital and can be done with wireless controls by the user with relative ease. 

Business facilities are well on their way to implementing green lighting principals. In California, energy codes are causing residential developers to use more efficient lighting and it is only a matter of time before these standards are adopted nationally. The mood of the population in America has evolved. Homeowners are more aware of good lighting as a quality of life issue and energy saving has significant value.


Stan Pomeranz - Member Illumination Engineering Society of North America
Associate - International Association of Lighting Designers



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