American commerce trends toward more efficient lighting

There is much focus on energy efficiency in residential applications, but the commercial sector is working to conserve energy, as well. And as with a home, owners and managers of commercial buildings are looking to lighting as an area of opportunity for more efficient energy consumption.

However, the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, conducted by the United States Department of Energy, revealed some critical information about the commercial sector.

According to the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, of 4,645 buildings, approximately 20 percent of energy consumption on site goes toward lighting. Only heating, at 38 percent, consumes more energy. In the category of electricity consumption, the results are a little different. Lighting consumes the most electricity at 38 percent, outstripping the next three sources of electrical consumption: cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration.

The survey, which focused on buildings larger than 5,000 square feet, including retail, shopping malls, and other commercial centers, found a shift away from incandescent and halogen lighting, which is less energy efficient. The survey’s responses indicated that 2,749 used at least some incandescent or halogen lighting. However, every building studied also boasted fluorescent or compact fluorescent lighting.

While there is still use of less efficient lighting, the study revealed that 75 percent of the more than 51 million square feet surveyed uses standard fluorescent lighting.

A major factor in preventing a complete conversion to fluorescent or compact fluorescent lighting may be in the application, which in some cases may favor incandescent or halogen lighting. Information provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that the less efficient lighting options have a superior Color Rendering Index (CRI). This is a measurement of how accurately light renders colors.

The measurements are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being more accurate. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, incandescent and halogen lights have a CRI of 99 and 97 respectively. By contrast, fluorescent lighting rates between 50 and 92, depending on the types of lighting measured. Compact fluorescent lighting is rated at 85 CRI.

This lower CRI creates lighting that appears “colder”.

While these factors may slow the complete conversion to energy efficient lighting, the owners of commercial buildings, with a focus on profit, are embracing fluorescent lighting as a means to reduce expenses, which helps increase profits.

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