The National Lighting Bureau (NLB) – a nonprofit coalition of lighting companies and organizations – had an eventful 2019, drilling down on its mission to promote High-Benefit Lighting.
Most recently, NLB launched a new awards program to recognize new construction and retrofit lighting projects that, "through the creative use of lighting systems and controls, enhance the value of lighting for occupants."
The program, organized with the help of longtime GE Lighting Institute manager Mary Beth Gotti, called for well-documented projects that demonstrate improved visual performance for those with normal and impaired vision, reinforce circadian rhythms, reduce light pollution/sky glow, improve safety and security, enhance occupant satisfaction, improve productivity, increase retail sales, etc. The intent is to share what works and to look at collaborative efforts that establish best practices, Gotti explained. Projects are being judged by NLB board members or their designees and a representative of the Lighting Research Center. The Tesla Awards ceremony will be hosted by Gotti at LIGHTFAIR International 2020 in Las Vegas. More info at nlb.org/tesla-award
NLB is currently working on an industry-wide Trusted Warranty Program, to be launched in 2020. As an independent third party, the NLB will offer to audit luminaire manufacturers’ warranty programs, issuing a "Trusted Warranty" seal to those who meet rigorous requirements. NLB will work on educating lighting designers, electrical distributors, and electrical contractors on the value of specifying Trusted Warranty products when purchasing lighting equipment.
NLB also tackled photobiological effects, including competing circadian lighting metrics in two videos now available on YouTube.
Good lighting design is inherently human-centric, and lighting affects our sleep cycles, circadian rhythms, alertness and other non-visual responses. With innovative technology developments, coupled with new research, the lighting industry has the opportunity to improve people’s health. The question is, do we wait for more research and more discussion, or do we begin implementing what we know today?
There are two important, sometimes competing, metrics regarding circadian lighting: One is the equivalent melanopic lux (EML) and the other is circadian stimulus (CS). The metrics were discussed by a panel of experts convened at the NLB’s 2019 Annual Lighting Forum.
Reid moderated the panel, which included Mark Lien, industry relations manager of the Illuminating Engineering Society; Michael Barber, principal at The Lighting Practice; and Craig Casey, senior building science engineer at Lutron Electronics.
The panel defines and discusses EML as light measured at eye level using spectral weighting factors. It is a calculated value of the human’s non-visual reception and response to light. EML is an initial metric that has some value, but focuses only on one photosensor. CS, developed by the Lighting Research Center, measures the impact on other visual sensors as well. The industry is debating which metric will be the most valuable, and we are in a wait-and-see mode, the panel determined.
The panel also discussed ethics and whether using lighting to influence the sleep-wake cycle is good or bad for society. Once the science establishes the impacts of light on human health, the panel warned, employers that don’t implement circadian solutions may face litigation.
Toward the end of the discussion, Mark Lien made a profound declaration: "We are not united in funding research to make some of the benefits tangible. As long as we are not unified to do this for the betterment of the industry, we risk the survival of our industry."
Hospital-acquired infections are one of the top preventable illnesses in medical facilities, and a special type of visible LED lighting can act as a continuous disinfectant to reduce the opportunity for those infections. In a video, produced by the NLB and the EdisonReport, Colleen Costello of Vital Vio and Deb Zawodny of New Star Lighting discuss how LED lighting is being used to disinfect germs in hospitals.
Vital Vio focuses on a relatively new disinfectant field, which uses violet wavelengths in the visible spectrum as a disinfectant, as opposed to the ultraviolet spectrum. UV disinfection has been around for years, but can be harmful to people if they are exposed.
"Surfaces play a big role in transmissions of germs, and we looked at how germs interact with surfaces," Costello said. "We use violet wavelengths between 400 and 420 nm to target molecules in certain organisms, and these targeted organisms are not present in human cells, so it is safe for people."
Zawodny explained that LED lighting is meant to be part of the process, but it does not replace regular cleaning and disinfection of room surfaces. Vital Vio technology begins to have an effect after 90 minutes, and allows for continuous disinfection using white light with a high violet content; a pure-violet mode is also available and allows for deeper cleaning.
Back in the spring of 2019, John Bachner, founder and executive director of the NLB, announced his retirement after 43 years. Bachner started the NLB in response to the energy crises, and his initial goal was to focus less on energy consumption and more toward quality of light – a goal that continues today. During his tenure, Bachner published hundreds of press releases, magazine articles and handbooks on High-Benefit Lighting, which is defined as efficient lighting designed to optimize human performance, health, safety, and commerce. Randy Reid, editor of the EdisonReport, replaced Bachner as executive director.
"In the past 43 years, John has accomplished more success promoting the quality of light than anyone I have ever met," Reid said. "Most lighting organizations do a great job of talking to each other – all within the industry. John focused the NLB’s efforts on the end-user executive, who has the authority to make the best overall lighting decision."
The NLB is an independent, nonprofit educational foundation that has served as a trusted lighting information source since 1976. The bureau is able to provide its services to the public free of charge because of the generous funding of the organization’s sponsors: professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, manufacturers, service providers and agencies of the U.S. government.