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IES: Shedding Light on the Energy Dilemma

Posted by Amelia Keller in Blog, Conference on 09/22/2017

Despite recent efficiency gains in lighting technology (LEDs), the amount of electricity used by the United States and around the world continues to increase. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2017, the world energy consumption is expected to increase 28 percent by 2040. With regulations becoming more stringent, builders, designers and manufacturers are being pushed to find ways to be more energy efficient in their use of building materials, cladding, lighting and daylighting.

How do you find a balance?

That was the challenge that captured the attention of some of the smartest and most forward-thinking minds in the lighting industry during the Illuminating Engineering Society’s (IES) annual conference in Portland, Ore.

Engineers, architects, scientists, policy makers and manufacturers shared ideas and best practices. It was exciting to see people from these different fields come together and problem solve.

Here are two of my biggest takeaways:

Finding the Balance Between Human Needs and Energy Saving

As we live longer and continue to work beyond the traditional retirement age, we are incrementally spending more time in buildings with artificial light. Factor in the increased levels of lighting needed to accommodate the eyesight aging process, and the result is a higher energy consumption. Demographics and human need are dangerously at odds with tightening lighting restrictions.

Energy efficiency codes vary by state in the U.S., but the majority have adopted at least some version of ASHRAE Standard 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). This is forcing us to think differently in how we manufacture, design and build.

That conflict between physical well-being and environmental mindfulness is forcing us to examine how we light our hospitals, schools, offices, libraries and other buildings where we are spending more time.

The Effect of View: Building Systems That Meet All Needs

Lisa Heschong, a national leader in building science, policy development and program management in energy efficiency presented The New View: Why the IES Should be Concerned with View Quality. She made the case that view is more important to productivity than imagined.

We know that overexposure to improperly-lit rooms lacking views to the world outside not only affects our eyesight, but our overall health and mental state as well. We must constantly be aware that maintaining the proper circadian stimulus is essential to good health, and allowing the mind space to wander encourages memory consolidation and improved cognitive function.

Without the proper lighting and exposure to the world outside, production will drop and our health is impacted.

We incorporate that philosophy into Kalwall’s technology. Whether it is a retrofit or a new curtainwall system, proper engineering allows us to provide diffuse natural daylight and provide view. We are always looking to improve our technology with that in mind.

The desire to be energy efficient and the need to design buildings for people is a delicate balance.