The DLC has moved decisively in the past year to increase quality of light attributes for products on our Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Qualified Products List (QPL). With data mounting about the human wellbeing and bottom-line benefits of superior quality light, this is a key area for the DLC and one we’ll continue to pursue. At the same time, Energy Efficiency Day is the perfect time to accentuate the accomplishments and goals of our original, major focus: improving the performance of LEDs and providing a reliable list of products for our members.
Four times since 2009, the DLC has boosted efficiency requirements in line with technology improvements for luminaires, retrofits and replacement lamps on our SSL QPL, a resource that utility energy efficiency (EE) programs across North America rely upon in the design of their commercial and industrial lighting incentive programs. QPL efficacy requirements increased by 20 to 30 percent (depending on product type) with V2.0 of our SSL Solid-State Lighting Technical Requirements in 2013. This was followed in 2015 by V3.0’s introduction of a “premium” designation worthy of higher utility incentives, and a minimum efficacy increase of 30 to 40 percent for V4.0 in 2016. Last year, V5.0 increased minimum efficacy requirements for the SSL QPL by an average of 11.7 percent and up to 22 percent for some lighting categories. Manufacturers have met this challenge each time and continue to produce lighting products with high efficacy, and now higher performance, controllability and quality.
Still, with lighting comprising about 12 percent of US commercial sector electricity consumption, and scientists calling for faster, bolder reductions in carbon emissions to fight climate change, there’s an urgent need to strive for greater efficiency that goes beyond efficacy at the luminaire level. Careful design and control of these lighting products, as well as connection to other building systems can ensure maximum efficiency is achieved.
Keenly aware that controls are key to unlocking future LED energy savings, the DLC engages in collaborative research to demonstrate the value of lighting controls technology. A recent DLC/Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) study, for example, found that adding networked lighting controls to LED projects yields additional energy savings of nearly 70 percent for some building types, averaging 49 percent across various categories of facilities. These findings bolstered results of a previous study showing that NLCs can increase the efficiency of stand-alone LED lighting projects by about 50 percent.
While connected lighting now comprises less than one percent of all luminaires in the US, the Department of Energy estimates this technology can provide up to one quad of energy (approximately equal to one-fifth of US commercial sector energy use) by 2035, when just under a third of luminaires in commercial buildings are expected to have network connectivity. The 2020 DLC/NEEA report recommended that EE programs use 49 percent as the best estimate of average portfolio-level energy savings when designing NLC incentive programs.
The DLC pushed the efficiency envelope further with our SSL Technical Requirements V5.1 last year by requiring that all products on the SSL QPL have dimming capability – enabling a nearly 50 percent increase in energy savings over what is achievable with LEDs alone. Since dimming capability also gives building occupants more control over their environment, it is a component of improved lighting quality, as well.
In short, in the wake of huge progress achieved since the movement to incentivize LEDs began in earnest a decade ago, myriad opportunities remain to do more. As we strive to improve the built and natural environment through lighting specifications that combine market solutions with a positive climate impact, the DLC team is keeping its collective shoulder to this wheel – on EE Day and always.