Is it possible to develop lighting solutions that meet code, accommodate user functions and client requirements, and realize the design vision? These were the questions shaping many of the seminars, workshops, and keynote addresses delivered during the two-day "Lights of Philadelphia 2006" conference held October 16-17. This biennial event, sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America's (IESNA) Philadelphia Section (IES-PHL), attracted a diverse range of lighting designers, engineers, and manufacturers, from the seasoned professional to the recent design-school graduate.

To develop programming that would attract a large audience and encourage conversations on key industry concerns, the conference committee--comprised of 30 IES-PHL members--engaged nationally recognized practitioners as its conference presenters. In the first of two keynote talks, Jim Benya, of Oregon-based Benya Lighting Design, encouraged attendees to participate in the code-writing process as a way of ensuring that lighting designers versed in the subject are helping to define the regulations that govern their work. In the second keynote presentation, Paul Deeb, principal of Baltimore-based VOX, discussed the challenges of selling a lighting concept. Seminars covered a wide range of topics, including: fiber optics and electronic metal halide ballasts, ASHRAE/IESNA/ASNI 90.1 and LEED, controlled energy-saving solutions, specialty environments, and the business of design. Workshops focused on lighting schools and landscapes, using daylight, and designing sustainable environments.

In one notable seminar, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Don Millstein, the current president of lighting control developer Encelium Technologies, described the importance of using advanced lighting controls to reduce consumption and expense caused due to unprogrammed lighting levels. A 96-vendor tradeshow supplemented the opening day's activities.

Despite the conference's diversity of topics, the programs all shared one attribute: Conveying practical knowledge. In future years, as IES-PHL works to refine and expand its programming to attract an even wider audience, including architects and interior designers, "Lights of Philadelphia" could well become one of the lighting industry's more varied, engaging, and relevant events.