Silver Spring, Md.-based National Lighting Bureau (NLB) recently opened its 32nd annual High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program. This unique program is open to virtually anyone associated with a High-Benefit Lighting installation: owners, designers, facility or property managers, contractors, manufacturers' representatives, utility employees, and end-users.

NLB coined the term "high-benefit lighting" to connote function-focused electric illumination systems that are designed to fulfill the specific purposes for which they will be used, especially to maximize bottom-line returns for those who own, manage and/or rely on the lighting. For example, high-benefit lighting installed in workspaces can help people work faster because it comprises electric illumination designed for the specific space, tasks, and people involved. Just a 1% productivity improvement can save an employer $300 annually for each worker paid $30,000 per year. The cost of the electric energy that employer spends to provide electric illumination to an employee? Probably less than $50 each year.

Outdoors, high-benefit lighting can help prevent accidents of all types, from vehicle-vehicle to slip-and-trip, thus preventing the losses associated with filing insurance claims, absenteeism, administrative paperwork, accident clean-up, negative publicity, and litigation. Fewer accidents can also result in lower insurance premiums. In retail situations, better lighting can help improve customer attraction and stimulate purchasing.

According to NLB Chair Howard P. Lewis, the High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program is intentionally easy to enter. "We want to encourage anyone associated with a lighting system upgrade or installation to submit a case history chronicling how high-benefit lighting contributed to the bottom line," says Lewis. "While a system must be energy-efficient to be considered high-benefit lighting, the dollar value of energy-efficiency typically is far less than the value of other factors. The dollars saved even by operating and maintenance cost savings of 70% can be dwarfed by the value derived from a productivity increase of just one or two percent."

For consideration in the 2011 High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program, an entry must be received by NLB no later than October 31. An entry should document how modification of an existing lighting system or installation of a new one improved productivity, increased retail sales, or achieved any of the many other bottom-line benefits of high-benefit lighting.

All persons who enter the High-Benefit Lighting Awards Program receive a hand-inscribed certificate of participation. If NLB staff develops an entry into a case history, the person submitting the information will serve as the bylined author of an article published in a prominent trade or professional journal.