More than 14,000 architects, engineers, designers, and end-users came from around the world to Lightfair 2004, held March 31 to April 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, to review a variety of new products, learn about developing markets, and study innovative applications.

One of the most popular groups of products among attendees came from the ever-evolving solid-state lighting technology market, which includes the light emitting diode (LED) – made from silicon – and the organic LED source – made from a polymer. Since the source is inherently a low-voltage device capable of digital control, creating any color or intensity of light can be handled through a communications control network that uses a variety of protocols. A host of entirely new designs gained the attention of show goers, and at least seven LED powered products won either “Best of Category” or “Best Overall” awards at the New Products Showcase, which reviewed 222 entries.

The LED products on display at the show demonstrated how much the technology has matured. LED sources are now suitable for specialized applications, such as down lights, task lights, under-counter illumination, and various decorative presentations, because the small point source puts light exactly where it’s needed. Additionally, manufacturers say that the technology is on track to follow its own version of Moore’s Law: Just as the processing power of computers doubles every 18 months, so has the lumen per watt, input power and wafer size for LEDs. Achieving a reliable, steady and consistent white color in an LED package will further accelerate acceptance of this technology.

Throughout the show, numerous manufacturers and speakers focused on the design and application of lighting equipment that achieves appreciable energy savings and responds to the changing needs of today’s building environment. Along the way, they also identified the following trends:

• A provision of the Energy Conservation and Production Act, enforced by the Department of Energy, requires that by July 15, 2004, all states must have an energy code at least as stringent as ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-1999, Energy Standard for Buildings except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, which reinforces the importance of creating a lighting power budget and applying necessary lighting controls. The maximum power densities (in watts per square foot) vary according to the type of space. For example, an office is 1.3 and a hospital is 1.6.

• As of April 2005, the DOE’s Minimum Ballast Efficiency (BEF) requirements for ballasts that operate T12 fluorescent lamps go into effect. Existing technology only allows electronic ballasts to comply with the DOE performance requirements for ballasts installed in new fixtures. Thus, magnetic ballasts are slowly leaving the scene. Electronic ballasts are also benefiting from expanding production volumes, which make it possible to build additional features like dimming and remote control addressing into the electronic circuits of the ballast with minimal additional cost.

• The integration of day lighting design and lighting controls in office lighting is gaining wider acceptance. A typical daylight-harvesting design can let in enough natural light to reduce a large portion of electric lighting load during most of the day. For that reason, a Day Lighting Pavilion on the exhibit floor attracted a significant number of new companies to the show that manufacture everything from shading products to skylights. At the same time, the Day Lighting Institute covered day lighting design practices for both beginner and advanced level designers.

A member of both the Lightfair management team and the advisory committee, James Benya, Benya Lighting Design, West Linn, Ore., noted that although no commonly accepted terminology exists for discussing daylight glare and no recognized numerical system has been developed for predicting and evaluating it, the industry will get there. A building that uses large expanses of glass must have a method for reducing glare and controlling the influx of infrared and ultraviolet energy. The proper tools, such as software that includes ray-tracing and radiosity methods to produce accurate calculations, are only now in development.

One of the day lighting seminars covered a current test underway at a 4,000-sq ft, fully furnished mockup on the grounds of a New York Times printing plant and funded by the NY State Research and Development Agency with help from the Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission. The project involves four lighting control system suppliers (0-10VDC dimming and DALI ballasts), two automated shade vendors, and building automation systems. Photo sensors control the electric lighting and operate the automated shades. After one year the results will be used to create a performance specification for an integrated shading/lighting controls package at the 52-story, 1.6 million-sq ft printing plant.

The mockup recreates the southwest corner of the building, or roughly one-sixth of one floor. This mockup space is divided in half. One half operates on a Lutron control system for shades and lighting; the shades respond to ambient light and thereby create a “closed loop” system. The other half uses a MechoShade system and Siemens dimming controls that use DALI fluorescent dimming ballasts. This second half of the mockup, which is slightly larger to accommodate more intense sunlight, reacts to the position of the sun and the sky conditions outside, thereby creating an “open loop” system.

• The increasing acceptance of the LEED rating system for sustainable design in non-residential buildings has made it a force in many new construction projects. LEED certification programs for existing buildings, commercial interiors, and core and shell projects are in various stages of pilot testing.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an outgrowth of the U.S. Green Buildings Council’s goal to reduce unnecessary interior and exterior lighting usage and implementing environmentally friendly design specifications. Minimizing nighttime light pollution is a particular consideration. The LEED program takes a life cycle approach to design, applying materials made for reuse/recycling, thus reducing landfill waste and disposal costs. It’s also meant to improve occupant productivity and health, incorporating daylight and natural ventilation where possible.

The LEED system grants points for the integration of daylight, thus making it almost mandatory for inclusion in a design. U.S. companies can be identified as “good corporate citizens” and reap public relations benefits through participation in this and other programs, such as the Energy Star program.

• Light pollution legislation is clearly a coming wave. More communities are rejecting the idea of unnecessary light going skyward, opting instead for good night lighting without excessive glare. Hundreds of municipalities, from Tucson, Ariz., to Kennebunkport, Maine, have enacted ordinances to limit such light pollution. Nearly all of the exterior luminaires at the show featured horizontal cutoff optics; one seminar, titled “Preserving the Night: A History of Light Pollution, Its Causes, Effects and Solutions,” was even devoted to the topic.

The LEED system gives credit for uniform site illumination (outdoors) and an attempt to maintain a maximum of 1.5 footcandles of average horizontal illumination. The illumination at the edge of property lines should be 0 footcandles.

• By going beyond just the watts-per-sq-ft requirements of the energy codes, the concept of quality lighting is gaining devotees. The Light Right Consortium conducted a study that found that office workers’ preferences are consistent with what prior research had revealed. In the study, people preferred a direct/indirect fluorescent scheme that includes wall washing at the perimeter (called vertical brightness), and they were more motivated to work when they had personal control of lighting at the work area. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America’s (IESNA) Lighting Handbook 9th Edition includes a new system for determining the quality of light within a workspace. This design guide mentions luminance values of room surfaces, modeling of objects, glare, shadows, source/task/eye geometry, flicker and strobe, color appearance and color contrast, and daylight integration and control.

• Both linear and compact fluorescent lamps continue to get smaller while offering enhanced performance and energy efficiency. The rapid-start – now called “programmed-start” – ballast models provide precise heating of T8 and T5 linear fluorescent lamp filaments and control the pre-heat time before applying the start-up voltage. With reduced filament stress, lamp life is appreciably extended, which is becoming increasingly important as more automatic switching is deployed in buildings. Lamp manufacturers are continuing to reduce the total amount of mercury used in fluorescent lamps in response to environmental concerns and recycling legislation.

• Small ceramic metal halide (CMH) lamps, in both PAR and linear shapes, offer performance features aimed at replacing halogen lamps in display and accent lighting. But in an effort to stay competitive, many more manufacturers are equipping halogen PAR lamps with a special infrared (IR) conserving coating that reflects radiated heat energy back onto the tungsten coil. Reusing this invisible infrared energy lowers the wattage of the capsule and produces more visible light, while increasing lamp life.

Seminars weren’t the only way to learn about the latest technologies. The New Products Showcase offered attendees some face time with the manufacturers of some of the hottest technologies, including the following:

General Electric, Nela Park, Ohio, introduced an expanded line of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL), including the 15W/25W/32W, 3-way spiral; and the 15W R30 and 26W R40 dimming reflector lamps. A 42W spiral CFL equals the output of a 150W type A lamp. The CMH 20W PAR 20 and PAR 30 lamps are designed for retail accent lighting. Performance characteristics include 1,200 lumens, 7,500-hour rated life and 80+ CRI.

Philips Lighting, Somerset, N.J., presented the PL-H compact fluorescent lamp with a 9,000-lumen output, providing high color rendering, with dimmable and instant-on features. The CDM-R111 combines the design of the ALR-111 halogen reflector lamp with the long life and efficacy of the MasterColor ceramic metal halide (MH) lamp.

Osram Sylvania, Danvers, Mass., introduced the Quicktronic DALI ballast to its family of controllable fluorescent lighting systems. T8, T5, and T5HO lamps can be set to a wide range of light level settings, and each ballast can communicate with a central controller for effective monitoring of total lighting system performance. The Quicktronic High Efficiency Series of T8 instant-start ballasts use as much as 6% less energy than standard electronic ballasts without compromising light output or lamp life.

Lutron Electronics, Emaus, Pa., showed off its GRAFIK 7000 Integrated Building Lighting Control System that allows for the seamless integration of dimming, switching, motorized draperies and shades, and day lighting. The energy monitoring and management features include floor-plan-based software and a graphical user interface.

WattStopper, Santa Clara, Calif., presented its Lighting Integrator line of relay-based light control panes with matching software that provides flexibility in design and accuracy in documentation. The company also showed off its DT 300 series ceiling-mount, dual-technology occupancy sensor, which offers 360° of coverage. In addition, the company’s Web site offers a host of resources, from online updates to best practice design guidelines.

Cooper Lighting, Peachtree City, Ga., displayed its Phocus exterior floodlight with an aluminum body and yoke arms for assured aiming control. Available in wattage levels up to 150W, the T-6 MH lamp offers seven optical distributions and an array of light control accessories.

Hubble Building Automation, Inc., Austin, Texas, unveiled the G2 dual-level controller for HID fixtures for use in areas like warehouses and gymnasiums. A microprocessor constantly adjusts occupancy sensor sensitivity. In addition, a new line of Simplicity LX series lighting control panels uses LonWorksÒ open system architecture for network control and a graphical touch-screen interface.

Responding to the Dark Sky Initiative, LEDtronics, Torrance, Calif., introduced a cobra-head styled LED streetlight using 400 LEDs. Also, ioLighting, Melrose Park, Ill., displayed an LED-based linear luminaire that offers precise beam control for interior and exterior applications. Called the LINE, this luminaire is best suited for areas where light pollution and light trespass are an issue.

MechoShade Systems Inc., Long Island City, N.Y., displayed a range of roller shade systems based on visually transparent shade cloth, which makes daylight illumination feasible in a building’s perimeter zones. An automated solar tracking program, AAC Solartrac, can coordinate the angle of louvers and the position of window shades, thus optimizing solar characteristics while providing a view of the outside.

Osram Opto Semiconductors, San Jose, Calif, introduced the ColorMix LED Dimmable System, which can be used modularly in a range of large-scale applications, including edge lighting of either transparent or diffused glass, and the illumination of facades and coves.

Dialight, Farmingdale, N.J., presented its SpectaMix LED color mixing system that can support color channels beyond red, green, and blue. For a white output, the color-rendering index is greater than 90. The system compensates for degradation and variation in output caused by changes in temperature, aging, and semiconductor die variations.

Fiberstars, Freemont, Calif, displayed its EFO fiber-optic lighting system, which uses continuously extruded large-core fiber and the illumination from a 68W metal-halide lamp to effectively replace eight 50W MR16 tungsten halogen down lights.

New products and evolving technology were no doubt the themes at Lightfair International 2004, but LEDs and solid-state lighting were the stars of the show.