Anyone now entering lighting design might mistakenly think that change is a steady constant of the industry, as evidenced by the number of new LED products and technological developments that are continually coming to market nowadays. But anyone who has been in practice for more than a decade or so knows that change in the lighting industry, especially when it comes to metrics and standards, is a long, involved process often riddled with committee meetings and public comment periods. It’s like trying to turn a battleship 180 degrees. You wouldn’t think it would take such a long time, but it does.

Another battleship is starting to turn. Over the past few months, there has been a discussion about adopting a new color metric as outlined in, TM-30-15, IES Method for Evaluating Light Source Color Rendition. Borne out of the need for a better standard that would address the specific color issues associated with LEDs, the proposed metric’s most significant feature is the introduction of 99 color-evaluation samples, as opposed to the 14 (eight pastels and six additional hues) currently used for the industry’s present guide, the Color Rendering Index (CRI).

Color is a core issue, and has always been an important topic of industry discussion. With the launch of our new website in June, architectural lighting has assembled a page entitled “Light and Color 101”——that serves as a directory of our articles on the subject. architectural lighting’s most recent color discussion was in the last issue: “The Evolution of White Light,”

There are many different aspects of color relevant to the discussion, such as consistency, temperature, rendering, difference, appearance, shift/stability, colorfulness, and matching. It’s a complex topic, and the introduction of solid-state lighting (SSL) hasn’t simplified matters. But what SSL has done that is of great benefit to lighting as a whole is that it is forcing designers and manufacturers to re-examine important technical issues like this one.

And that is what the introduction of TM-30 late this summer has provided. Everyone is talking about it. The U.S. Department of Energy offered two webinars in September that are now available on their website: Randy Burkett, Kevin Houser, and Michael Royer presented “Quantifying Color Rendition: A Path Forward” at the IALD’s Annual Enlighten Americas conference in Baltimore on Oct. 8–10. Upcoming lighting trade shows in Europe, such as LuxLive in London, are also set to hold seminars on the subject.

There is still debate about whether the new metric addresses the shortcomings that have plagued CRI, a system that goes all the way back to the Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage chromaticity diagrams of 1931 and 1964. But what is sufficiently important is that the underlying research projects, and discussions at the committee level, have progressed to a stage where the information can be disseminated publicly: The Illuminating Engineering Society has released the new metric as an official technical memorandum.

The introduction of TM-30 is important for the industry as whole. It reflects advancements that have far-reaching implications for research and product development. This much we know for certain. But the real question now is how will the discussion progress? Will there be more research and testing? How will the design community react and participate? How will manufacturers incorporate this data in their technical product sheets? Will TM-30 lead the way to a completely new, industry-accepted standard, or will it simply become a marketing tool?

I hope the industry will give TM-30 a fair shot and allow all parties involved to continue their meaningful and informative discussions. Too much work has already gone into the metric to let it flounder on the shelf.

Elizabeth Donoff