Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Lighting controls take center stage in commercial-lighting efficiency project
LRC unveils new Web site about the use of lighting controls in commercial and industrial applications.
Screen capture of Reducing Barriers website

How can commercial businesses use lighting to control energy consumption? In the United States, businesses spend 20 percent to 30 percent of their total energy budget on lighting. Lighting controls and energy-efficient lighting systems have long been promoted as tools to control energy consumption, yet customer acceptance and implementation are still low. High costs of dimming products, difficulties with photosensors, and misgivings about automatic shut-off controls have all limited the use of these technologies.

LRC researchers recently wrapped up a three-year project exploring the problems, questions and potential solutions associated with the use of lighting controls and systems designed to reduce energy demand.

“Lighting controls have so much potential to provide businesses with energy savings, yet they haven’t caught on for a variety of reasons,” said Peter Morante, LRC director of energy programs. “With this project we were able to take a close look at the complex problems facing lighting controls and come up with a number of viable solutions as a starting point.”

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the LRC investigated and proposed solutions to the barriers associated with the use of lighting controls in commercial and industrial buildings that use fluorescent lighting systems. Researchers focused on technological issues with dimming controls, photosensors, and occupancy sensors, as well as market considerations. In March, the LRC unveiled its findings and recommendations to the public through a new Web site named for the project: Reducing Barriers to the Use of High-efficiency Lighting Systems.

The Web site provides an overview of the problems related to the widespread penetration of lighting controls and offers a number of solutions based on research conducted as part of the government-funded project. Topics covered include:

• issues of lamp and ballast compatibility
• the effects of dimming on lamp life
• installation and commissioning difficulties with photosensors and occupancy sensors
• technology transfer and marketing methods
• peak load management opportunities using lighting

The site also includes links to detailed project reports written for the U.S. DOE and links to other related resources.

Visit the project Web site at

About the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. Founded in 1988, the Lighting Research Center has built an international reputation as a trusted and reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. Its mission is to advance the effective use of light and create a positive legacy of change for society and the environment.

2004 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180 USA.

Rennselear Polytechnic Institute