Lighting work means different things to different electrical contractors. It can be as basic as wiring a string of 2×4 fluorescent troffers for a small office building or as complex as in-stalling an intricate fiber-optic lighting system to illuminate a Disney theme park (see Staff Writer Amy Fischbach's cover story, “An electrifying California adventure,” on page 12).

Make no mistake about it — lighting can be big business for electrical contractors. According to the Department of Energy, lighting accounts for about 25% of the nation's total electrical bill. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that for businesses, the lighting load can be even higher. Sparked by utility power shortages and the resulting end user demand to reduce electrical loads by retrofitting lighting systems, the call by customers for energy conservation may finally be hitting the high note that its proponents have wanted to hear for years.

Energy-efficient electrical products are often a tough sell in the electrical market. Manufacturers of lamps, ballasts, lighting fixtures and lighting controls have been cranking out ever-more efficient lighting products since the days of the first oil crisis, more than 25 years ago. But due to concerns over the higher upfront price tags of these products, end users often tuned out talk about proven total installed cost savings produced by the more energy-efficient products.

Utility rebates created what turned out to be artificial demand for these products in the early 1990s. Once utilities stopped offering rebates, many customers again lost interest in energy efficiency. Even federal legislation that banned the manufacture of some of the least efficient lamps and ballasts hasn't created the expected surge of demand for more efficient products.

Most lighting experts agree that the move toward more efficient products will continue to grow slowly but surely. One of the key elements in this evolutionary process will be the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-1999 standard. This is a building code spreading toward national acceptance that, in part, requires the use of more efficient light sources and luminaires, sets a standard for lighting power density (LPD) in watts per square foot, and requires the use of lighting controls to reduce illumination in unoccupied rooms.

You can learn how this standard could create new business for your company in a special report in this issue, “Green Lighting for the New Millennium” (page 43). Published in cooperation with Intertec Publishing Corp.'s Lighting Dimensions and EC&M magazines and written in part by CEE News' Contributing Editor Joe Knisley, this article will help you understand which lighting products will offer the type of energy savings that this standard requires.

If you are looking for more information on the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-1999 standard or want to learn about other areas of the lighting market, here are my picks for five places to start your search:

Another can't-miss opportunity to learn more about the lighting market is to attend this year's LightFair 2001 trade show in Las Vegas, May 30-June 1. Check out www.lightfair.com for registration information.