International Association of Lighting Designers

Employer: International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD)
Service: Writing
Project Type: Article
Year: 2013

I wrote this article as a marketing & communications coordinator at IALD. The aim was to explain a new incentive program that tied energy efficiency to lighting design skill, a controversial topic among architectural lighting designers. I collaborated with the IALD public policy coordinator on the reporting and interviews. The article follows the IALD editorial and style guidelines. The article appeared in the weekly member newsletter.

New Incentive Program Ties Energy Efficiency to Lighting Design Skill

Two utility holding companies located in the Northeastern United States, National Grid and Northeast Utilities, have unveiled an incentive program in Massachusetts for networked lighting controls. The program requires the participation of a lighting design professional who must be a Professional member of the IALD or LC-certified. The incentive amounts to $0.50 USD per square foot for approved projects of 25,000 square feet or more in commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. Both new construction and renovation projects are eligible for the program, which also requires meeting a number of technical requirements and a custom application that must be approved by the utility company program managers. 

The purpose of the requirement, according to National Grid Program Manager Edward Bartholomew, is to ensure that approved projects attain the highest possible levels of both lighting quality and energy efficiency. “It is my opinion that experienced lighting designers are better able to achieve both energy savings goals and lighting quality goals,” says Bartholomew; “Recent studies have shown that advanced lighting controls systems will achieve greater occupant acceptance, last longer, and actually save more energy than similar systems designed without the input of an experienced lighting professional.”

The program is the result of lengthy discussion and debate among utility experts, lighting designers, and other stakeholders. “In order for a control system to be effective, it must be designed and specified correctly, and that is exactly what professional lighting designers are trained to do,” says Massachusetts-based lighting designer Glenn Heinmiller, IALD. “Utilities and regulators want to avoid the installation of expensive controls systems that provide little to no energy savings. Instead, they’re willing to fund incentives for real energy savings.”

The program addresses a key issue that has had a negative impact on some energy-savings efforts: controls systems that are not designed to meet owner and occupant needs. Such systems are frequently used inappropriately or not at all, maintained poorly, or even abandoned. The new program will reward owners for finding competent assistance to secure greater energy savings than would otherwise be likely. The results should be greater energy savings combined with greater occupant satisfaction.

The program takes effect on 1 January 2014.