When looking at ways to reduce a building’s reliance on the traditional energy grid and increase sustainability efforts for commercial and industrial clients, lighting is often one of the topics that’s most easily addressed. The seemingly endless choice of design strategies that can enhance the ability to use natural lighting, control artificial lighting, and power lighting sources allow today’s buildings to benefit from innovative precedents and creative adaptations by fellow architects and designers.

Essential to interior design, lighting consumes about 15 percent of the world’s electric energy and is one of the largest consumers of electricity in U.S. commercial buildings, accounting for up to 50 percent of a commercial building’s energy bill and about 17 percent of all energy used in commercial buildings.

As architects take on the challenge to reduce this big chunk of consumption, the push to create even more efficient and adaptive lighting controls and tools will provide even more options and techniques. For example, the Department of Energy reports that widespread use of LEDs alone could reduce the U.S.’s energy use by about 8.5 percent of the total amount generated in 2019, which is equivalent to the annual energy from 44 large power plants and more than $30 billion in savings.

Navigate lighting options with the help of an energy expert.

Whether it’s new construction or a retrofit, a host of lighting controls can help serve a client’s design, sustainability, and budgetary needs. As innovations are constantly being introduced and refined through use, it can be challenging to stay knowledgeable and strategic about how to use new lighting control technology.

One way to navigate the lighting field is through the assistance of a local utility partner like National Grid that has a team of energy experts who can assist with project-specific product selection, technical assistance, financial incentives, and financing options. Their in-store programs at select electrical supply distributor locations allow instant discounts directly off the invoice for commercial electric customers who choose qualified products that are installed within 30 days of purchase.

Lighting control innovations support energy efficient goals.

While swapping out light bulbs is still the first step to increasing energy efficiency, today’s solutions are well beyond a simple light bulb. Today’s popular lighting controls have become heavily used because they are efficient, resilient, and adaptable.

Lighting controls that lower the environmental footprint while boosting overall comfort, increasing performance, promoting safety, and allowing convenience for use are the ones that architects and designers tend to rely on again and again. For example, networked lighting can decrease energy use by an average of 49 percent, according to DesignLights Consortium (DLC) and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, timed scheduling creates a 24 percent average lighting energy savings, and occupancy sensors can save as much as 68 percent of energy use.

Natural lighting controls offer more energy savings.

Lighting solutions such as daylight harvesting, which adjusts interior lighting based on the amount of daylight entering a space, and dynamic glass, which is made from electrochromic glass to control how much a window tint is needed to meet the current lighting needs inside a space, can both be effective ways to automatically adjust energy consumption. These tools can help control glare, color rendition, and energy use, and they optimize heat transfer, all lessening the load on a building’s HVAC system and reducing overall energy bills.

As smart lighting controls are becoming more common, there’s an expectation that our businesses will be endowed with increasingly more convenient and efficient lighting solutions. It’s essential for architects and designers to stay on top of these ever-evolving solutions in order to deliver sustainable and supportive design solutions for clients who are keenly focused on energy efficiency for the planet and their bottom line.

Find out how you can receive incentives, rebates, and energy-saving lighting control services at NationalGridUS.com.