Irick calls out five commercial lighting trends to watch in the year ahead
EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio--The commercial lighting and design field is undergoing a dramatic transformation unparalleled in its scope. Ceilings of the future? They are here today. LED adoption? It's so widespread that LEDs have found their way into areas customers will never see. And the ability to control and customize the major power hogs in a building? There's a newer and better solution for that, too.
"From facility management to city planning, reaching new heights in low energy use has been made possible by continued commercial lighting innovation," said Jaime Irick, general manager of North American professional solutions, GE Lighting. "Highly efficient high-output fixtures, controls that capture critical data and LED options you never knew about all are factors in a brighter energy future for business."
Irick calls out five commercial lighting trends to watch in the year ahead:
1. Saving where customers don't see
"Today there is rapid adoption for LED high bay lighting in places that occupy significant square footage but will never be seen by customers-inventory warehouses, factories and other industrial spaces with tall, open ceilings," notes Irick.
In fact, approximately 1,500 warehouses in the U.S. now have LED lighting*.
Increased lumen output (light output) has made commercial LED lighting a viable investment. It is more energy-efficient than traditional fluorescent and high-intensity (HID) systems typically used in these spaces. A new generation of industrial-strength LED lighting delivers the "punch" to illuminate spacious work and storage environments.
Facility owners also appreciate the maintenance advantage of LED lighting in high bay applications-typically four times longer lived than conventional light sources.
"LEDs mean less change out, less labor and less interruption to warehouse operations," notes Irick.
These advantages are especially important when dealing with difficult-to-reach ceiling lighting that requires advanced machinery and maintenance to change lamps.
2. Advanced energy management
Facility managers know that reducing energy use is no small task. Lighting and heating/cooling systems are the two biggest energy consumers in U.S. office buildings, according to a 2012 U.S. Department of Energy report. Together, lighting (20 percent) and heating/cooling (28 percent) can account for 48 percent of a building's total energy consumption**.
"Operating separately, a lighting control and building automation system must be monitored and adjusted regularly. When integrated, however, these platforms can communicate seamlessly to optimize efficiency," says Irick.
Integrated systems enable automatic adjustments for changing outdoor conditions, smarter scheduling of building operations and the generation of on-demand energy usage reports, even from off site.
"New centralized systems also allow for advanced monitoring and reporting of lighting, heating and cooling operations," notes Irick. "Lighting control solutions available today work in direct conjunction with a building automation system, giving users a combined approach for combating the biggest energy costs in buildings."
3. Lighting and ceilings working together
Designers of retail and office environments have long been constrained by conventional T-grid ceiling schemes-replicating the familiar grid-like layout across all manner of spaces often as a matter of function over form. Today, a new category of ceiling is bringing style to uninspired areas.
According to Irick, "Integrated ceiling systems concentrate lighting and other utilities in narrow bands running the length of the room. This gives architects the freedom to create imaginative layouts that are no less accommodating to standard maintenance operations."
GE has teamed with USG to give architects two cutting-edge products designed and tested to work together. The USG Logix™ Ceiling System using GE's Lumination™ BL Series™ LED luminaires is a new complete ceiling lighting solution that offers the commercial building industry a variety of aesthetically pleasing possibilities.
4. Designer LED fixtures
Lighting as fashion? The fact is LED technology offers new freedom in fixture design. Both linear luminaires and illuminated pendants are realities in a new era of aesthetically pleasing options. Chic, ultra-thin and strikingly sculpted, retailers, hoteliers and restaurateurs alike are choosing from a growing cast of bulb-less beauties to light up their sets.
Irick says, "Today's LED luminaires are changing more than the look of spaces. Fixtures are also transforming the way people experience light."
Thin and uniformly illuminated while suspended from the ceiling-a clear band surrounding the edge of the fixture makes the light source appear to "float." Others can appear completely free of a light source when switched off. Without advances in optical technology that precisely direct the light produced by each LED, elegant and energy-efficient fixtures like these might not suffice in retail, hospitality and other lighting environments where appearance and function are both big priorities.
5. Smarter LED streetlights
In increasing numbers of cities big and small, traffic managers and council members are weighing the value of conversions to LED street lighting. Besides significant energy and maintenance cost savings, the optical advantages of LED illumination here again allow fixtures that better aim light where it's needed.
Irick calls it "a bright beginning to the end of orange 'blobs' cast off by conventional sodium and metal halide light sources."
Where 400- and 1,000-watt HID fixtures have lined roadways for generations, new white LED lights using 200 watts and less are popping up across America. Some cities spend as much as 60 percent of electricity consumption on street lighting. New fixtures like GE's Evolve™ LED Scalable Cobrahead seek to balance this budget with more pavement distribution patterns suiting a wider range of roadway classifications.
In Tarentum Borough, Penn., more than 400 Evolve LED fixtures were equipped with stand-alone controls and programmed to dim by 30 percent at midnight, ramping back up after 4:00 a.m. Capturing these even greater savings was important to the town of 4,500 that pays itself for its own electricity. Now energy use is down $23,000 a year in Tarentum where passers-through frequently note the borough's "bright and clean" appearance.
Tomorrow is today
"Outside the home, the impact of bright, energy-efficient LED lighting and intelligent controls can be applied, experienced, seen and appreciated nearly everywhere you look today," added Irick. "The next 24 months will be a pivotal period because our work on commercial LED solutions the last decade has enabled new thinking about LED-based residential lighting. I think even the most disengaged light bulb shopper-the person who sees lighting as a mere commodity-will be stoked about the options that are becoming available in the lighting aisle."
To learn more, visit www.gelighting.com.
About GE Lighting
GE Lighting invents with the vigor of its founder Thomas Edison to develop energy-efficient solutions that change the way people light their world in commercial, industrial, municipal and residential settings. The business employs about 15,000 people in more than 100 countries, and sells products under the Reveal® and Energy Smart® consumer brands, and Evolve ™, GTx™, Immersion ™, Infusion ™, Lumination™, Albeo™ and Tetra® commercial brands, all trademarks of GE. General Electric (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter to build a world that works better. For more information, visit www.gelighting.com.