Established in 2007, LEDucation has grown from its first event with 34 exhibitors and 400 attendees to a sold-out exhibit area in 2014, making this the sixth consecutive year the exhibit area has been at 100% capacity. And the numbers just keep getting better. Held March 18-19 at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, the Eighth Annual LEDucation conference, hosted by the Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY), attracted in excess of an estimated 4,000 designers, engineers, educators, contractors, and manufacturers in a new two-day format. The meeting featured an exhibition area with 220 manufacturers and distributors displaying their products and services. Additionally, the event offered eight accredited educational seminars (highlighted below), covering LED technology, energy efficiency, and industry codes.

The growth in LED technology coincides with the mandated demand to reduce energy consumption in buildings, creating an opportunity for solid-state light (SSL) sources to be controlled using power line carrier, low-voltage wiring, digital low-voltage wiring, or radio-frequency wireless systems, working in applications where legacy sources could not be specified. The following is a quick recap of what was covered in some of the seminars.

In the “Solid State Lighting for Designers and Space Planners” session, John Selander, The Lighting Quotient, West Haven, Conn., offered a tutorial on how LED lighting can enhance interior and exterior spaces by showing the characteristics of a good lighting system. He explained how the expanding LED fixture market provides an opportunity for lighting to enhance an architect’s design and showed installations where the LED light source is particularly well suited to its application, such as cove lighting. Selander also noted the early actions taken by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in creating the SSL Program, which has been an impetus to SSL market growth. At present, technological challenges include the performance and lifetime of the source, color stability, flicker, glare, dimming, and serviceability.

Jeff Codd, Wiedenbach Brown, New York, indicated in the session “LED’s Budget Breaker or Project Maker — Financial Considerations of LED Lighting and Installations” that the biggest barrier to specifying LED-based lighting in a retrofit remains the high up-front cost. However,  when non-financial factors are considered — such as realizing that an LED project is a capital improvement that increases the market value of a property and the importance of long-term energy and maintenance costs, leasing arrangements, and tax benefits — all of the economic benefits can be seen. Codd also discussed the concept of both short- and long-lived assets, emphasizing that quality lighting can provide numerous non-quantifiable benefits to the occupants of the renovated spaces.

In the “Changing the Outdoor Landscape with LED” session, Darian Ayres, FX Luminaire, San Marcos, Calif., described how LED outdoor landscape lighting can be used to illuminate paths, steps, and dark zones for gardens and patios that satisfy safety, nighttime aesthetics, accessibility, and security. In addition to greater efficiency, the diminutive LED source offers numerous benefits compared to incandescent lamps sources, such as the ability to provide subtle shifts in color temperature to create a sense of depth and drama. Ayres also demonstrated the use of a cabling efficiency calculator that estimates annual operational energy cost and predicts voltage losses depending on wire length, lamp wattage, and wire type, since voltage drop directly affects lamp life and light output.

In the “Innovation — How LEDs Have Altered Luminaire Design and Construction” session, Stephen Blackman, BlackJack Lighting, Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Tom Ward, Finelite, Inc., Union City, Calif., showed examples of LED-based fixtures that don’t have the restrictions of all other light sources, because tomorrow’s LED board designs/luminaires will tend to be smaller in cross-section, allowing for unlimited creativity in appearance and functionality. The office of the future likely will incorporate more lighting controls, possess the ability to be integrated into a larger network/building management system, and offer decreased levels of ambient light as the use of task lighting increases. Mid-power LEDs are slated to become the standard for general illumination, and the aging of such a system will be rated similar to a fluorescent system: 90% to 95% lumen depreciation. Looking ahead, LED luminaires will carry descriptive data that allows identification of all the components and will be considered fixed building assets that last for decades, although some parts will fail and have to be replaced.

Marty Salzberg, Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design, New York, and Anne Cheney, Cooley Monato Studio, New York, noted in the “Navigating the Shifting Landscape of Lighting Codes and How LEDs Can Help” session that lighting and energy codes provide a minimum standard for new construction of commercial buildings. In the United States, two models are the ASHRAE 90.1 standard and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). A local code, which may be developed by a city, county, or the state, such as California’s Title 24, must be at least as stringent as ASHRAE 90.1, the national energy standard. Lighting criteria also comes from other agencies, such as the General Services Administration, and corporate design standards, which are ever multiplying and changing. Possessing advantages over all other source, the LED chip offers tunability in color, output, and watts, and allows excellent light distribution while being dimmed.

In the “Flicker, Buzz and Color Change — The Crazy World of LED Dimming and Control” session, Gary Dulansky, The Dulanski Group, Inc., Purchase, N.Y.; Greg Smith, Tivoli, LLC, Santa Ana, Calif.; and Natalia Lupacheva, ETC Architectural Lighting, Middleton, Wisc., discussed how LEDs can be dimmed with line voltage (traditional phase control or reverse phase control) systems or with alternating current and a control circuit (0V to 10V, DMX, DALI) and even embedded wireless connectivity in the lamp/fixture. Although progress has been made, compatibility challenges remain, especially with existing phase-cut dimming systems, which dominate the installed base of dimmers. For that reason, NEMA issued a standard, SSL 7A-2013, last year that provides compatibility requirements when a forward phase-cut (sometimes called a “leading edge”) dimmer is combined with one or more dimmable LED light engines (LLEs). Because a dimmer has a minimum and maximum number of LED sources it can effectively operate, testing the complete circuit is the best way to discover if an LED light source is compatible with a remote driver (where applicable), the dimmer, and (for low-voltage systems) the transformer. The panel also discussed the LED products that provide a warm white appearance, similar to the incandescent/halogen source, when dimmed.

In the “What NGL Tells Us About the State of the Arts in LED Luminaires” session, Ruth Taylor, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash., and Craig A. Bernecker, Parsons The New School of Design, New York, explained the Next Generation Luminaire (NGL) competition, which features a panel of designers and engineers who examine submitted commercial LED luminaires and select those that pass the judging process. Entries are judged for color quality, light distribution, glare control, appearance, energy efficiency, and serviceability. Bonus points are given for flexibility, innovation, and the ability to dim the light output. For 2013, 33 indoor products were recognized for excellence, while 26 outdoor products received recognition.

In the “Lighting for the Future of Healthcare — Patient Room 2020” session, Rachel Calemmo, Christian Rae Studio, Easton, Conn., discussed an ongoing research effort, involving architects, designers, health-care professionals, and more than 30 manufacturers, which started in 2009 and resulted in a prototype hospital room. Called Patient Room 2020, the space uses LED light sources and controls. For example, a touchscreen control system gives a patient access to educational content, a link to social networking, and the control of environmental systems, such as temperature, audio, and lighting. Above the bed, an overhead canopy — called a Patient Ribbon — incorporates life controls, an HVAC diffuser, lighting, audio controls, and a color halo. Additionally, a lighting fixture company (Intense Lighting) created a grab bar that illuminates when triggered by a patient’s movement.