The Future of LEDs: Key Takeaways from the Solid-State Lighting Technology Development Workshop

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) hosted its annual Solid-State Lighting (SSL, or better known as LED) Technology Development Workshop in Denver, CO on November 16th and 17th.  The event was attended by 180 industry members from various backgrounds including, manufacturers, utilities, designers, municipalities and academia, all working to drive mass adoption of LEDs throughout the US.

The workshop challenged the status quo, asking tough questions to lighting industry experts in order to identify technological barriers. Today, only about 6% of the installed lighting systems in the US use LEDs.  The goal for DOE is to increase adoption to 86% by 2035.  In terms of energy savings, the current installed LEDs contribute 280 trillion BTU’s of savings vs. previous lighting technologies.  The goal of 86% adoption would result in 5,070 trillion BTU’s or 5.1 quads of energy, which is equal to the average annual electric use in 137.4 million homes in the United States.  There are billions of dollars to be spent in lighting technology in the next two decades, and JLL is poised to help our clients be a part of the revolution.

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JLL and our in-house lighting experts can help our clients navigate the rapidly evolving world of LEDs:

  1. Not all LED products are equal. There are still great strides available in fixture efficacy (lumens per watt, or the efficiency of the light output compared to the energy consumed).  Through different engineering of fixtures and optics, in addition to the natural progression of more efficient LED chips, a variety of options are available to clients.
  2. LED Tubes are not always the solution. LED “plug and play” tubes are a viable solution for some situations like strip fixtures, industrial fixtures and some short term lease situations. However, LED fixture or full retrofit kits with new door/trim provide better light, for a longer life, at a relatively small premium.
  3. Lighting control technologies are still in their infancy. There is a long way to go for controls technology to maximize the potential of these new light sources as well as serving as a backbone for various other systems like wayfinding.  With various protocols and equipment out there, the market is in flux now.  As the market evolves and some clear “winners” surface in the area of controls communication protocol standards, broader acceptance of central lighting control systems will arise. The current Passive Infrared (PIR) occupancy sensors will be phased out over time and replaced by camera based systems. One of the most promising is a time of flight sensor, which uses thermal imaging cameras to detect the distance of objects from the camera and determine if they are people or objects.
  4. Lighting levels are important, but so is light color. Through proper photometric design, there are a number of ways to get the exact light you want in the space. From full color RGB systems to tunable white that goes from 2700K to 6500K, clients can also install lights with appropriate color temperature for the application and then tune the system based on their finishes and employee preferences.  Light color is also known to have an effect on circadian rhythm, and proper design can keep employees alert and productive (and happy!).

Overall, the world of LED lighting is moving fast and continues to pick up speed.  It’s an exciting time in lighting and JLL is looking to remain on the forefront to bring the best proven technologies to our clients.


Bill Lawler is a Portfolio Energy Manager and lighting guru in JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services.

Jennifer Fairchild is the Eastern Regional Energy Director for JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services.

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