Proposed NYC Lighting Ban Could Darken Thousands of Commercial Buildings

It’s difficult to imagine New York City without its skyline of bright lights, but a significantly darker night could become reality in the name of transitioning to a more environmentally friendly city.

City councilman Donovan Richards has proposed legislation that would require property owners of approximately 40,000 commercial buildings to turn off exterior and interior lighting at night, the New York Post reports.The bill excludes small stores and landmarks like the Empire State Building. Building owners who keep their lights on could face a $1,000 fine.

The proposed NYC lighting ban would help the city meet its goal of achieving an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

Building owners object to the possible ban, even though it would reduce their electricity bills. At a council hearing, Real Estate Board of New York Vice President Angela Sung Pinsky said that lighting in commercial buildings is important for the city’s productivity and safety. Thousands of building owners would likely seek waivers due to safety concerns.

Alternatively, the legislation has some supporters, including architectural historian Sandy Isenstadt. She argues that the ban has the potential to foster “innovative new lighting schemes.” Advances in technology have reinvented lighting and new ways of producing illumination, and she believes the high-wattage New York skyline to which we are so accustomed will become a thing of the past.

John Lee, deputy director of the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, says the legislation needs to find a balance between environmental goals and adequate lighting as a deterrent against crime.

New York City isn’t the first to propose this type of legislation. Two years after a similar law came into effect there, France is still unable to fully enforce its ban on leaving lights on in unoccupied commercial buildings at night. However, according to the French dark sky association ANPCEN, some municipalities are now saving tens of thousands of euros a year in energy costs as a result of adhering to the practice. On the other side of the equation, France’s lighting industry association, the Syndicat de l’Eclairage, urged their government to focus more on encouraging energy-saving lighting, which could save more energy than simply turning off lights after hours.

New York City could also benefit from promoting energy-efficient lighting, which has potential to be the compromise Lee is seeking. LED lighting uses only a fraction of the energy consumed by traditional energy-hogging light sources. According to the Department of Energy, switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent, and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Of course, it’s easier to convince building owners to turn off their lights rather than buy entirely new ones.

No matter how this plays out, New York City will likely maintain its bright skyline for the foreseeable future. The proposal is currently backed by only 13 members, only half of the support it needs to pass.


Arborlight Outshines the Competition at Sapphire Award Gala

Arborlight, a leading developer of advanced LED technology, has received top honors for their innovative smart lighting technology. The award was announced in February, at the inaugural LEDs Magazine Sapphire Award gala, which was held in conjunction with the Strategies in Light conference in Las Vegas. Arborlight was this year’s winner in the category of Smart Solid State Lighting Technology.

On Feb 25, 2015, developers from across the globe joined each other to celebrate the innovation taking place in the LED and SSL industries. Companies working in these sectors nominated over 100 products from 10 countries around the world for consideration. Judges selected finalists, announced in January, across 13 categories including SSL Lamp Design, LED drivers and Smart SSL Technology. On Gala night, the best developers in each category took home the Sapphire trophy.

Judges were asked to evaluate the various technologies presented based on their ability to deliver new capabilities not found in legacy products, potential commercial use, and performance. Arborlight’s victory in the new smart technology category is especially noteworthy, given that they were up against some well-established competitors such as CREE and Philips Color Kinetics. “Arborlight’s new technology earned some of the highest scores in the entire competition,” commented Maury Wright, Editor-in-Chief of LEDs Magazine. “It is cool and adds a completely new dimension to lighting,” Wright added.

Arborlight’s LightWell 16 SSL Daylight Emulation™ technology breaches the boundaries between smart lighting and human-centric lighting. The lights, once installed, look like skylights and are able to simulate daylight in terms of color, intensity and directionality. Smart lighting software includes adjustments for the time of year and geographic location. Alternatively, users are able to wirelessly tune the color, intensity and time to their preference using smart phones, wireless devices or desktop computers.

CEO Michael Forbis was present to accept the award on behalf of the company. “Recognition of this magnitude is sincerely appreciated,” said Forbis. “It serves to validate the ground-breaking nature of Arborlight’s new technology,” Forbis continued. The groundbreaking technology could prove enormously beneficial to human well-being  in countless applications such as work, health care, education and home.

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World Prepares to Celebrate International Year of Light

Every once in a while, a holiday comes along that I, Dr. Bulb, can get really excited about. One such holiday is The International Year of Light. Quite frankly, it doesn’t get much better than that.

The United Nations has designated 2015 as The International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL2015), a global initiative to celebrate the uses of light and lighting technology.

The year 2015 was chosen for several reasons. It is the centennial anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general relativity equations, something that could only be tested with the use of light. 2015 also marks the 1000th anniversary of the first publication of the Book of Optics, a seven-volume work written by the medieval Arab scholar Ibn al-Haytham, known in the West as Alhazen (965– c. 1040 AD).

There are three goals associated with the International Year of Light, the first of which is to make people more aware of how dependent the world is on light and photonics technology. Most companies in the field are small to medium-sized businesses. The goal is to make people more aware of these smaller companies and support them.

The second goal is associated with education. In recent years there has been a global push to reinvigorate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The International Year of Light will support programs that are designed to encourage youth and young adults to pursue STEM-based careers. The goal is to illuminate the lighting industry in such a way that people see it as a viable career path.

Finally, the third goal is focused on the Study After Sunset project. The purpose of this project is to bring light into rural African homes so that children will be able to study after the sun goes down. This initiative is already well under way and solar lighting solutions are being installed in some areas. The International Year of Light will work to reiterate the importance of this event to the world.

The International Year of Light was proposed in 2013 and two years later, it is finally happening. The project quickly gained support from more than 80 countries and is supported by scientific societies, museums, universities and various other organizations, including the International Council for Science and the United Nations.


LED Sports Lighter Outshines Metal Halide Equivalent

Before recently, LEDs could not provide the amount of light required for sports lighting. Thanks to advancements in LED technology, this is no longer true.

The 567w LED sports lighter by Access Fixtures has the light output equivalent of a 1,500w metal halide sports lighter, which means it uses 65% less energy to produce the same amount of light. The LED sports lighter emits 71,782 initial lumens and 61,015 luminaire lumens even after 50,000 hours of use.

The LED sports lighter also lasts 33 times as long as the metal halide version. Why is this so important for sports lighting? It’s expensive to replace sports lighters due to the fact they are typically mounted between 30 and 80 feet off the ground, which requires a lift to reach the luminaire. The sports lighter can also illuminate large commercial and industrial facilities that face the same maintenance issue with traditional lighting technologies. By using LED, maintenance is reduced to virtually zero, drastically reducing operating cost for property managers.

Fortunately, improvements in LED technology are making it possible to use energy-efficient and long-lasting lighting in many applications.


Is OLED a Threat to LED?

LED lighting has become popular in recent years due to the longevity of the lights and their energy efficiency over traditional lighting technologies, but LED lighting may soon be replaced by OLED lighting!

There are an increasing number of OLED luminaires to choose from, including OLED panels, and these are loaded with enhanced benefits over LED lighting. The new technology may have the ability to perform with even greater energy efficiency without requiring replacement for 10 years or longer. In addition, the technology in OLED lighting is carbon-based, meaning organic materials are used to conduct electricity and to emit light. White light panels may be an option for development in the near future, and this can further enhance the growth of OLED over LED lights in the marketplace. Additional styles and functional improvements may continue to make OLED lighting an even better alternative to LED lights in the marketplace over the next few years.

When new technology is introduced into the marketplace in almost any area or segment, there is always a possibility that the technology will not actually be well-received by consumers. The same happened with LED lighting. Some consumers may continue to opt for the older models available with less innovative features for different reasons. For example, some consumers may believe that the newest products with the latest technological features and benefits are not worth the higher price. While this may be true with some innovations, many market analysts and experts believe that OLED will overtake LED in the marketplace within the next decade.

While there are clear benefits associated with the price of the OLED lighting as well as its lifetime and performance capabilities, some consumers may be slower to make an upgrade to their light fixtures. Generally, however, the improvement over OLED is expected to be well-received and gradually adopted by consumers in their buying decisions. For now, LED lighting is still a vast improvement from most traditional lighting technologies, particularly in energy efficiency and longevity.

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LED Flicker and How to Measure It

While LED lighting offers numerous benefits, it’s not—unfortunately—flawless.

Certain lights have flicker, causing the light to exhibit a subtle pulsating or strobing issue. LEDs aren’t an exception. Typically, it is barely noticeable by the human eye. But just because it’s not noticeable by humans, doesn’t mean it’s not causing problems for humans. Health-related issues such as migraines, fatigue, reduced visual task performance, distraction, visual impairment and even epilepsy attacks are being said to have been triggered by flicker. Because of this, an increasing amount of organizations are paying more attention to the issue.

What causes flicker, anyway? The source of the problem originates from a conflict in the power current, particularly between the outlet and the power supply of the light. Dimmers can also increase flicker. Though fluorescents are infamous for high flicker (at least before recent advances), LEDs are exhibiting the same symptoms. LEDs can further complicate the issue with changing power needs. This problem can be mitigated by an LED driver that is placed between the power supply of the light and the light itself. The driver will regulate a constant voltage to the LED to decrease flicker.

Still, if flicker is not detectable by the human eye, how do we know the LED driver is working? Companies are now releasing products that can measure flicker, such as the MK350D meter from UPRTek. The meter can accurately measure flicker percentage from 1 to 100%, with 0% being pure uninterrupted continuum of light (no flicker.) It’s difficult to eliminate flicker entirely, but a meter can help lessen the flicker and subsequently, the health-related issues.

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