While “lighting quality” and “energy efficiency” need not be at odds, they often are. For example, color rendition is sacrificed to increase luminous efficacy and glare control is sacrificed to increase luminaire efficacy. During the past several years we’ve seen most LED companies design and market their products around energy and life. Few focus on quality considerations such as color and glare. We’ll see a renewed interest in lighting quality, not for altruistic reasons, but because the market is so flooded with products that “quality” is one way to differentiate from the masses.
I hope that flicker with LEDs will be addressed, though that may be in 2015 or beyond. Flicker was a problem with fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts. With the adoption of electronic ballasts, flicker is no longer an important consideration. I fear that with many LED products, old problems are being duplicated with this newer technology. This goes unnoticed because there are no flicker standards for LEDs.
In 2013, we’ll also see a more widespread deployment of optical wireless communication using LEDs. We’ll see USB sticks that allow communication between laptops and LED systems. In the next few years, I even expect to see a prototype airplane cabin where the overhead spotlight will also provide an Internet connection. The data stream will be transmitted with light, which cannot interfere with cockpit communications.
Associations are being asked to do more with less, and resources—funding, sponsorship support, volunteer time, and availability—are increasingly scarce. This means associations must plan carefully and efficiently, husband resources responsibly, and spend intelligently. Strategy is more important than ever, as is research to inform strategic decisions. The IALD, fortunately, with its strong income from the increasingly successful Lightfair, is not heavily dependent on dues. This has enabled the organization to expand and develop programs and services to benefit members at a time when many associations are cutting programs and staff.
The desire as professionals to be taken seriously, and for the profession of architectural lighting design to be recognized as important and relevant—irrespective of geographic location—also remain key concerns of the IALD’s constituency. To that end, public policy is one of the strategic areas in which the IALD has established a presence. Engaging in public policy initiatives results in increased awareness of our organization, an important factor in our efforts to raise the profile of the architectural lighting design profession worldwide.
In the year ahead, the IALD will continue to work with other professional lighting groups, as well as a long list of related organizations with which we have close working relationships, including the American Institute of Architects and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
We are extremely optimistic about the economic climate for investments this year. We have just launched a new company called Modern Forms, a future-forward manufacturer of unique interior and exterior LED luminaires featuring design sophistication and unsurpassed performance. It was very well received at the International Lighting Market held this past January in Dallas. Given the softness of the economy in recent years, attendees were impressed by the extent of our investment in this new company, which included a full presentation of bath and outdoor luminaires designed to achieve superior illumination from clean upscale forms, exclusively with LED technology.
In addition, we are continuing to invest in performance technologies and the research side of R&D. Our new Argos and Logos families of LED track luminaires demonstrate that with the right engineering LED can now replace 39W HID for commercial usage without sacrificing on performance or price.
Tech Lighting and LBL Lighting
The economy won’t suddenly turn a major corner, but I do think we’ll see slow growth throughout 2013—and likely more than we saw in 2012. Home prices are increasing, new construction is up, but perhaps more importantly, it feels like people are ready to spend again. I’m very optimistic about our outlook for next year. However, I don’t believe the economic lift will benefit all lighting companies equally; those that have invested in their products and their partnerships over the past several years should capitalize disproportionately on the industry expansion.
In 2011 and 2012, LEDs began to make more sense in many more applications. That will continue in 2013, but LEDs won’t be embraced universally. LEDs are held to a higher standard than most conventional light sources, and many are still skittish to adapt, and rightfully so: There are still challenges when integrating LEDs into our spaces.
We’ll also see many more applications that take advantage of the digital nature of LEDs, and more fixtures and replacement lamps that integrate features like RGB and color-tunable white. It won’t become mainstream in 2013, but I do think it will help set the stage for the coming years.
Finally, just because we care about energy conservation doesn’t mean we have to stop caring about beautiful design. I hope that designers continue to hold manufacturers to incredibly high standards when it comes to how fixtures appear. It can’t only be about maximizing lumens per watt.
Speirs + Major
In creative terms, we see the combination of continuing improvements to solid-state lighting technology, and in particular control, providing exciting new possibilities. LEDs continue to improve in terms of quality, output, and efficiency such that “all-LED schemes” are now becoming the norm. We are interested in lighting technology and the potential of new materials, especially those that react to light. This can include new types of composites, resins, glasses, plastics, and films.
We are also driven by our quest to address the need for sustainable lighting development. We have long subscribed to the idea that environmental considerations such as energy use, light pollution, and the impacts of light on sleep patterns and biodiversity must be properly balanced with the considerable social and economic benefits that artificial (electric) lighting brings to society and the built environment.
Other things that excite us for 2013 are those projects that allow us to break down the barriers between different design disciplines and lighting. This includes the more traditional areas such as architecture, landscape, and interior design, but also environmental graphics, wayfinding, branding and identity, urban design, product design, and environmental art. We continue to be interested in what lighting design can bring to such areas of design and how it might lead us into collaborating with interesting people on a wide range of diverse and exciting projects.
These are the areas of focus/topics of concern for 2013 that I see taking center stage:
• Convergence: the integration of controls with fixture hardware. Controls need to be simple and intuitive. Lighting is not a standalone element anymore but rather is tied into other systems to convey data about the performance of the lighting system or about unrelated elements. • Commissioning: There is now a real expectation that the controls we specify really perform. Part of that is code driven and part of it stems from people wanting to know if they are achieving the energy savings they think they have designed and purchased. There are many stories of installations that did not work as predicted. This keeps pressure on designers to spend the time to get the documentation complete and correct, and pressure on the manufacturers to provide what they promise in their product literature.
• Training/Education: More rapid change, in both the equipment we specify and the tools we use, requires constant training and education of staff and is a big (and expensive) commitment on the part of employers. Investing in staff and their training when you don’t know if you will benefit from the investment is an ongoing challenge.
• Healthcare: Not unique to lighting is how to provide healthcare benefits that are affordable in a small-to-medium-size design firm. How Obamacare is fully implemented remains to be seen.
Lighting technology has been a great enabler. Faced with the challenge of revised energy codes and sustainability standards, many thought the ability to light interesting and important spaces with a sense of creativity while also meeting new power density requirements might be impossible. Instead, the design community has met this challenge and, with new technologies, now has a larger toolbox from which to choose. On the other hand, this also works to create an ever-present learning curve for designers and manufacturers.
While the industry has come together to develop a new group of standards and metrics to help better define and measure expectations, many issues still need to be addressed as a result of this ever-changing technology. There is a need for continued dialogue on issues such as future compatibility and new technology to upgrade current designs. A good example of both can be found within the design community, which is continuously tasked with the challenge of designing and specifying products for projects that will not be completed for several years.
Sustainability and globalization are also issues the industry faces, along with how and where the design industry will go to find new staff with the right skill sets to address the changing landscape. These and many other factors will continue to drive the need for all parts of the lighting industry to collaborate and share information and best practices.
The shift from fluorescent and metal halide sources to LEDs in downlights and track products will continue to take on speed. I don’t expect any major specifications to be “non-LED” in those product categories in the future.
In 2012, for nearly all commercial office projects we saw, design teams compared fluorescent solutions against LED options for general lighting and, on several occasions, the team opted for the fluorescent solution. I think that will change in 2013 simply because costs for LEDs will continue to decrease, while color shifts are becoming less of an issue and LEDs, in general, have become a more-accepted source for office lighting products.
We are also seeing a trend among lighting designers and architects preferring to use smaller lighting products (and luminaires). Using LEDs as a source allows us to meet this demand without compromising quality and efficiency.
Last but not least, I believe that controls will play a much stronger role in commercial lighting than ever before. For example, beyond the typical control of lumen output of a fixture, we will see options to control the color of LED sources.
Practical Lighting Workshop
Developments I look forward to seeing (time frame uncertain, of course):
• Integration of non-visual aspects of lighting into lighting design. I hope to see prescriptive recommendations for application of lighting to educational, healthcare, and commercial facilities. • Form factor fashion from LED and OLED luminaires and material-integrated sources. The market can support and reward luminaires that are both “lighting to look at and lighting to see by.”
• Simplified approaches to mainstream lighting. Lighting has become quite complex as a result of rapid advances in light source, control, and communications technology, as well as the demands of codes, sustainability, an aging population, and energy conservation. While lighting today can attack more problems than at any time in the past, the very depth and breadth of this enhanced capability seems to immobilize many everyday decision makers. Isn’t it time to develop, market, and support simplified, high-value solutions that enable users to commit resources to improving their lighting?
• Portable, upgradable, replaceable lighting systems. Much of the delight and utility of the “electronic revolution” comes from the continuous improvement, flexibility, and creative potential of the products we use at home, work, and play. Built-in lighting limits improvement to those who are building new or have the resources to remove and replace. Can’t we apply technology to lengthen the life cycle of lighting equipment while increasing functionality and enhancing user satisfaction?