Outcome-based commercial-building energy codes are an idea gaining new interest among policymakers in the United States. This type of energy code prescribes building energy budgets instead of a complex list of requirements. The first efforts started 10 years ago, and we are still years away from a model sure to gain significant adoption. Due to the concept’s potential benefits, however, it is possible, if not likely, that outcome-based codes will be a tool in future energy regulation.
Direct current (DC) is emerging as a competitive or complementary power distribution option at the grid, community, and building level. Among the advantages for building owners is potential efficiencies in operating DC-based LED lighting and controls as well as plug-and-play sensor and controls installation, including networking that can unlock Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
MaxLite recently introduced the next generation of FlatMax LED Flat Panels with field-selectable CCTs, wattages and field-installable controls as a flexible and future ready lighting solution for offices, schools, health care facilities, and other commercial spaces.
Historically, an inhibitor to adoption of LLLC has been initial cost. An encouraging new study by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) reveals that average costs have been undergoing a steep decline, making advanced controls more attractive for lighting upgrades and new construction.
Rebates remain a strong incentive for investing in energy-efficient lighting and controls. In 2021, significant opportunities are widely available for LED lighting and controls, including continuing availability of rebates for networked controls.
In January 2021, the International Code Council published the 2021 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which has been updated every three years since 2000. This new version reduces lighting power allowances, expands mandatory controls requirements, and issues clarifications.
In January 2021, the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, projected a 5.7% decline in nonresidential construction spending in 2021. Construction spending is then projected to grow 3.1% in 2022 as the renewal of economic activity unleashes pent-up demand for nonresidential space.
While “circadian lighting” varies in definition, it generally refers to design that uses intensity and spectrum of light for a non-visual effect—namely, to support regulation of circadian rhythms. A new study suggests that by enabling intensity and spectral adjustment and optimizing exposure based on time of day, designers and owners can minimize the energy tradeoff imposed by associated typically much-higher light levels. This would entail use of an advanced lighting control system capable of scheduled dimming and perhaps spectral emission adjustment.
A U.S. Department of Energy-funded Pacific Northwest Energy Laboratory (PNNL) study found that hospital nurses value controllability in lighting and that this controllability can translate to greater satisfaction among patients.
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) recently published a study seeking to compare one-for-one luminaire level lighting control (LLLC) retrofits with a comprehensive networked lighting controls (NLC) redesign. Conducted by the University of Oregon, the study found that a one-for-one LLLC upgrade produced comparable energy savings and lighting quality at a competitive cost.