Considering we used incandescent and fluorescent lighting for the last century and that a mere few years ago LED lighting was considered not yet ready for prime time, LED technology is now moving at warp speed.

I personally consider it a great bandwagon to get on. Its benefits are numerous: lower maintenance; long life; heat loss reduction; immediate bright light; nothing toxic (we’re talking mercury); cooler in both the literal and figurative senses; and, most of all, huge energy savings.

There are some negatives including high cost, which has to be put into the perspective of LEDs very long life and that prices are going down almost daily; quality, depending on what bulbs you buy and where they were manufactured; and that LED light is more focused, perfect for recessed lights, not so much for lighting your entire living room with the wonderful warm glow that incandescent bulbs provided.

With incandescent bulbs no longer an option (they were banned from manufacture and import in 2007), that leaves compact fluorescent lighting or CFLs as the other contender to LEDs. There are pros and cons to both types of lighting but the consensus is that CFLs will be overrun by LED lighting and can be viewed as an intermezzo before moving into LEDs.

As the future is lighting is here, the next big question for commercial property owners is do I dive head first and deep into a full lighting replacement or do the retrofit equivalent of dipping in a big toe?

The answer is it depends. CFLs will illuminate a large area with bright light, unlike LEDs. They are more familiar and less expensive. They will last a long time but not as long as LED lighting. They cost less, but LED lighting is decreasing in price rapidly and, because they last longer, eventually cost less than CFLs.

There are a lot of technicalities that are best left to lighting experts to explain and for building managers to analyze. LED, for example, comes in two options: luminaires with LED boards and luminaires with tubular shaped modular LED engines. CDLs are less expensive but they cannot be put on a dimmer switch and contain mercury.

If the full building, dive-in approach isn’t right for your building or feasible for your budget, phase in new lighting on a one by one decision basis. Cost savings can also be realized with a drop-in LED retrofit kit.

LED lighting continues to become more efficient. Today, energy savings of over 30% can be realized. With that kind of savings, buildings can recoup their LED investment in a few short years. There are also rebates available depending on the lighting products you buy and install.

LED lighting products have now reached a point in price, efficiency and energy savings that they are of value to everyone from the CFO whose budget had to take a hit to install them to facilities managers who are seeing much less lighting maintenance to tenants who may well be seeing an increase in productivity. LEDs have gone from leading the way to a lighting revolution to being the way to light now and well into the future.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Energy savings is a large, important topic in conservation. We use and waste a lot of light in this country, from home to highway to office, from restaurant to theatre, malls, schools and hospitals. We can’t control much about our offices or other structures, but we can control home lighting.

For apartment dwellers, it’s not that big a topic. We are a city known for small spaces. Not as small as Japan, of course, but small enough to have newcomers to the city become dazed in shock and awe over what passes for a bedroom.

Apartment lighting consists of lamp light bulbs and perhaps some overheads. And now we have to bid, except for whatever is left in dusty store bins, a fond farewell to the incandescent light bulb that has been with us since childhood. While a blog in Scientific American called it “The Overly Dramatic Demise of the Light Bulb”, we’re not so sure as, according to CNN, there are about 10 billion light sockets in the country and we’ve been using incandescent bulbs for over 100 years.

When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 established new efficiency standards for lighting that required bulbs to use at least 25% less energy, it sealed the doom of incandescents. They may provide warm, cozy, far-reaching light and are cheap and predictable but they use and lose too much energy and are now not legal to manufacture or import. No longer will you hear the familiar tinkling sound of a dead incandescent bulb’s wire filaments inside the glass as you cart it to the trash.

No one is going to come and arrest you for using them, but you will be hard put to find them any longer. The 40 and 60 watt bulbs started being phased out a few years ago. You currently have a choice of halogen, CFL and LED light bulbs. All have pros and cons from cost to their look to energy savings and bulb life. But none create warm light like an incandescent.

Leave it, however, to MIT to be working on a “nanophotonic comeback for incandescent bulbs.” According to Wikipedia, “Nanophotonics or Nano-optics is the study of the behavior of light on the nanometer scale, and of the interaction of nanometer-scale objects with light. It is a branch of optics, optical engineering, electrical engineering, and nanotechnology.” (We had to look this up for you. All right, we had to look this up for me.)

According to MIT News, researchers at MIT and Purdue University (without going into all of the dense scientific processes) seemed to have found a way to combine the traditional warmth of incandescent bulbs with modern technology that results in much greater energy efficiency.

Today, incandescent bulbs are wending their way into becoming quaint history. Tomorrow, they may return in new form and be the next big thing.

Stay tuned.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

Candlelight. Gas lamps. Electric light. Incandescent. Fluorescent. LED.

Dating back to antiquity, lighting has undergone a consistent evolution leading to this moment in time when LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have become the game-changing energy source.

We’d like to say sports arenas are leading the evolutionary way – or should we say lighting the way – with the 2015 Super Bowl the first to be played illuminated by LEDs.

But it’s major cities that are the frontrunners making the switch.

  • Los Angeles has installed over 140,000 LED streetlights and spent $57 million to retrofit 215,000 lights.
  • The Washington, DC Metro system began a major project to upgrade to LED lighting in 25 parking garages.
  • San Jose, CA is replacing 62,000 streetlights to LED lights including a control and monitoring system.
  • Las Vegas installed 42,000 LED streetlights and is saving $2 million a year on energy and maintenance costs.
  • Plan NYC includes replacement of all 250,000 streetlights with LEDs, predicting an 80% decrease in maintenance costs of $8 million a year and $6 million a year in energy savings.
  • London announced the largest street modernization project with plans to replace 350,000 of the 520,000 city streetlights with LED lights by 2016.
  • Both the Asian and European markets are predicted to have converted 70% of its lighting to LED by 2020.

Electric lamps have been around since the 19th century with the first LED constructed in 1961. But the small, bright light (and white) LEDs we use today are a 21st century achievement.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE) solid-state lighting is showing very significant advances. The annual energy cost savings from LEDs more than doubled in 2013 from the previous year, increasing to $1.8 billion – enough to pay the annual lighting electricity bill for over 14 million U.S. homes.
By 2025, at a price of $0.10/kilowatt-hour, the DOE found solid-state lighting technology offers the potential to save $21.7 billion annually.
Property owners are now well versed on the long-term cost savings of LED lighting as well as lower replacement and maintenance costs and savings on cooling costs.Why then is not every commercial building converting to LED lighting?

The answer is money.

While predictions are that solid-state lighting will be the dominant lighting technology within the next decade and commercial property owners can see the competitive advantage, they must still be able and willing to afford or finance hundreds of thousands of dollars in upfront costs.

It’s a large pill to swallow but with its numerous cost saving benefits and the cost of LEDs decreasing, a LED lighting retrofit can provide a ROI in a few years.
Thus, the future of LED is – dare we say? – bright.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services