Jan. 1, 2008
ENERGY STAR lighting helps with sustainability. Nine out of 10 commercial buildings don't meet standards for comfort and energy efficiency. And more.

ENERGY STAR Lighting Helps with Sustainability Efforts
When faced with the challenge of reducing your building's carbon footprint, it can be tempting to throw your hands in the air and decide that the problem is too big for one person to do anything about. Take a step back and consider the little things you can do that will eventually have a big impact. Lighting is a great place to start.

An expert in the field, Paul Vrabel, director of the energy-efficient products group at Riverside, NJ-based Sea Gull Lighting (www.seagulllighting.com), has spent the past 13 years furthering the development and practical application of high-quality, energy-efficient technologies. The following conversation with Vrabel presents important information that you can use to do your part in changing the world by changing your lights.

Buildings: What can our readers do to reduce energy costs and implement ENERGY STAR lighting?

Vrabel: Any time you install a more efficient product (one that gives equal or better performance for less energy consumption), you are reducing greenhouse-gas emissions because the power plants that supply the electricity do not need to burn as much fossil fuel. And, even though you may work in an area with lots of hydro or other alternative power, the electricity you purchase is most likely, in part, coming from a fossil-fuel (coal or oil) plant.

Specifying high-quality, energy-efficient lighting is an excellent first step toward achieving an efficient building. Efficient lighting is relatively low cost compared to other efficiency measures, such as HVAC improvements, and lighting savings are easy to measure. These savings can then be rolled into other efficiency improvements, like HVAC.

An important note is that not all energy-efficient lighting is created equal. Facility managers should work with vendors that have a lot of experience with energy-efficient lighting and understand what separates the good from the less-than-average products. Facility managers should ask to see a vendor's full selection and ask tough questions about color rendering, lifespan, durability, efficacy, starting, and independent laboratory verification of the products' efficiency and performance.

Buildings: What should facilities managers know about the latest advances in energy-efficient lighting technologies?

Vrabel: Energy-efficient lighting comes in a variety of decorative and commercial-style fixtures. Today's energy-efficient lighting is not the fluorescent lighting your grandmother had in her kitchen, nor the office lighting of decades ago; actually, it's not the same energy-efficient lighting of only 10 years ago. Advancements have led to the next generation of compact fluorescent lamps, linear T8 and T5 lamps, ballasts, and fixtures. In addition, today's ENERGY STAR-qualified lighting is independently tested to ensure performance and energy savings.

Buildings: Does trying to reduce energy costs and greenhouse-gas emissions limit lighting options?

Vrabel: Not necessarily. Facility managers should work with manufacturers that have substantial lines of ENERGY STAR fixtures. This will increase the likelihood of finding high-quality, energy-efficient fixtures for every room in offices, apartments, hospitality buildings, assisted-living centers, and other applications where selection did not exist 10 years ago.

Buildings: What should our readers know about recent government legislation related to energy efficiency and lighting?

Vrabel: The short answer is that, readers, no matter their location, should pay attention to and plan for changing (increasing) energy codes because they are gaining momentum and more laws are being passed. For example, California's Title 24 2008 is in draft form and raises the bar in many applications from the 2005 code.

ENERGY STAR, although voluntary, has released requirements for solid-state lighting (i.e. LEDs). And, as most have probably heard, there is a major international movement to "ban the [incandescent] bulb." From Australia to Europe to Canada to California to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., there is either passed or drafted legislation that would significantly raise efficacy (lumens per watt) requirements for incandescent bulbs. Although this is not exactly the "ban-the-bulb" language that got widespread media attention, it is legislation that will significantly change how lighting is manufactured, purchased, and specified.

Majority of Commercial Buildings Fail to Meet Standards
Data in the recently released AirAdvice State of Building Performance Report 2007 shows that more than nine out of 10 commercial buildings fail to meet fundamental standards for acceptable comfort and energy efficiency. The report suggests significant opportunities to reduce energy and operating costs, as well as to improve system performance and occupant satisfaction.

Commercial building assessments performed across North America show that:

  • Most buildings suffer from two or more basic comfort or energy-efficiency flaws.
  • Conditions that are likely to generate comfort complaints exist in more than 75 percent of the buildings surveyed.
  • Over-ventilation is the most common cause of excessive HVAC-related energy use.

More information and the complete report can be found at (www.airadvice.com).


UCLA Opens California NanoSystems Institute
In December 2007, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) opened the new California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). The building houses laboratories for nanotechnology, a multidisciplinary field addressing the control of matter on a molecular level.

CNSI is a 7-story building constructed partially below grade, sited on a narrow, steep lot adjacent to a parking structure. This location, plus the diverse laboratory requirements of nanoscience, posed considerable architectural challenges for New York City-based Rafael Viñoly Architects. The parking structure, initially considered an obstacle, became a design impetus for the project - three floors of the building were constructed over part of it.

Key features of the project include:

  • Floor-to-ceiling poles that provide lab benches with rapid air/data/gas/power disconnects.
  • Mobile interior furnishings that foster a kinetic environment of collaboration.
  • An open-air entrance that promotes collegial interaction.

"This is a building that houses a transformational field of new technologies," observes Viñoly. "While respecting the strong character of the campus, the design offers the flexibility and openness that reflects the way in which this work is performed: large, undetermined technical spaces with unexpected modes of circulation that encourage random interactivity."

Building Information Modeling (BIM) Usage is Accelerating
The FMI/CMAA Eighth Annual Survey of Owners makes it very clear: Adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) processes and technology is accelerating, and 35 percent of all respondents have used BIM processes and technology for 1 year (or longer) on some portion of their capital program.

The Survey of Owners, published every year by Raleigh, NC-based FMI Corp. and the McLean, VA-based Construction Management Association of America, surveys, analyzes, and summarizes trends and concerns of business owners in the building and construction industry. The most recent report focuses on how the building and construction community is adopting the process and technology of BIM systems. BIM has begun to prove itself as a great asset in holistic program management, which is becoming more common in the industry.

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