This year’s Lightfair International at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco offers more than slow-moving trolley cars and fine chocolates. In addition to the latest information in lighting technology and a wide variety of new products, the convention presents a great opportunity for facilities managers and building owners to interact with the lighting design community to discuss issues of energy efficiency and high-performance facilities.
“[The show] is extremely useful to people in management because, frankly, they need to know what the design community is thinking based on the products out on the market and what we can do with them,” says James Benya, principal, Benya Lighting Design, West Linn, OR. For the convention, Benya serves as the representative of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), New York City, on the Lightfair management committee. He is also conducting two pre-conference workshops on creating energy-efficient projects.
Lightfair offers 10 pre-conference workshops and 27 in-depth architectural lighting seminars, featuring top industry and academic speakers. The courses range from basic to master level, presenting a diverse selection in everything from photometrics to security, from retail lighting to ballast technology.
“I don’t think there is enough dialogue between us and our clients,” says Benya. “Lightfair is one of those opportunities for us to have that dialogue.” Because lighting consultants work in conjunction with architects and interior designers, facilities managers do not always get the opportunity to work directly with these professionals.
Lighting design, which has been around for roughly 30 years, is a relatively young profession. There is a great need for increased education among facilities managers about the benefits of professional lighting design and the potential of lighting products, especially with green design. Many of this year’s seminars will focus on the growing interest in sustainable design, and thousands of innovative energy-efficient products will be displayed.
“In terms of energy efficiency, you need to know a lot of details to squeeze those watts; if you don’t know the details and do it in a cavalier fashion…you make mistakes and the owner winds up paying for those mistakes for years and years,” says Benya. He urges building owners and facilities managers to discover the extraordinary difference professional lighting consulting and high-performance products can make on a corporation’s bottom line. Adds Benya, “Good design is energy efficient, but it also provides an aesthetic and a quality to the building that is hard to put in words; but you know it when you see it.”
Increasingly, facilities managers are realizing how ergonomics and quality lighting can transform their facilities – especially during modernization. “We are beginning to learn that relighting a building is not just shoving more energy-efficient guts into old fixtures, but by putting in new fixtures we can completely renew a building with a lighting system that is as up-to-date as its communications system,” says Benya.
One of the biggest trends in the lighting industry is cost-effective relighting of existing facilities. For example, one of the seminars, “Up With Uplighting,” covers the evolution of the industry and the benefits of designing efficiently with uplighting systems. Benya explains: “This industry wants to relight; it makes a building live up to the technology of the rest of the infrastructure.”
At Lightfair, facilities managers can also get an update on the most recent productivity research projects. “To be honest, you have to take a leap of faith; you need
to assess things with your eyes and with your own instincts in regards to the research that is being conducted,” says Benya. Lightfair affords facilities managers the chance to have access to the leading lighting researchers.
For the first time ever, the conference will provide International Facility Management Association (IFMA) certification maintenance points. Each three-hour workshop will equal three certification maintenance points and each 1.5-hour seminar will equal 1.5 certification maintenance points. At this year’s event, sponsors are expecting nearly 1,200 exhibitor booths and over 17,000 end-user, engineering, design, and facilities professionals. “If there is one place to figure out what you need to know, it’s Lightfair,” notes Benya. “Anywhere else is only part of the story.”Regina Raiford (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor at Buildings magazine