How do you balance the design process while adhering to energy code requirements?Is it possible for both to coexist without any sacrifices to the lighting design concept and implementation?

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DOUGLASS R. WERNER, LIGHTING DESIGNER | STV INCORPORATED The biggest hurdle in balancing the design process with energy code requirements is, as designers, to have a thorough knowledge of the energy codes affecting our projects and to share this knowledge with our clients. The design process is clearly a collaborative, creative process between the designer and the client that includes many factors; we cannot ignore the importance of energy codes and energy savings among those factors.

While many designers work with energy codes on a daily basis, many of our clients are relatively unfamiliar with these codes. In discussions with my colleagues, I'm finding this to be especially evident on the East Coast where the implementation of energy codes seems to have lagged behind the western part of the country. It is our responsibility as professionals to educate our clients regarding energy codes and their impact on lighting design and control strategies, in the same way we have educated them as new lamp technologies and luminaire designs have been introduced.

It is clear to me that energy code requirements can, and must, coexist with the design process without sacrificing design. I find this to be apparent as good design practice puts less emphasis on providing the appropriate quantity of light and more emphasis on the correct quality of light and how that light shapes the visual environment. Quantity of light is not the only factor affecting energy usage, however, limiting the amount of lighting in a particular space, both by design and the use of effective lighting controls, is a significant factor in reducing energy consumption. It also is apparent that there is an ongoing “push” among lighting manufacturers to develop new fixture designs committed not only to photometric performance, but also to reducing the amount of energy consumed by these fixtures. These are ways the lighting industry exemplifies its seriousness about the “art of illumination” as well as energy codes and how these energy codes ultimately affect the future of our planet.

JEFF GERWING, PRINCIPAL | SMITHGROUP There is no doubt that the continued development of energy codes creates a significant design challenge when it comes to meeting the aesthetic goals for a project. Our design process always begins with a conceptual study of how lighting relates to the architecture of the spaces we are designing. These aesthetic concepts translate into a reality that impacts the way people perceive and experience space and therefore must remain fresh in our minds as the target of what the lighting design will become. If we begin with a focus on energy, we already have forgotten why we design buildings—for people.

There are many parameters that impact the design process and pull you off course, but energy codes quickly are becoming one of the most difficult challenges to navigate. Beginning with the aesthetic and following with the technical allows us to focus our design work on the most critical areas. It's really about creating a hierarchy of spaces and using your allowable energy where it matters most. We target energy savings in areas of the building that are more functional so we can apply more energy to the critical “impact spaces.” There are times when a great idea cannot be implemented within code, but the majority of the time these challenges simply force us to dig deeper into a better overall design solution.

EVA PERSSON, PROJECT MANAGER | LJUSARKITEKTUR The lighting design profession has a great responsibility for future generations. Light is energy and we need to handle it with care. The goal is to create good lighting design that agrees with the energy codes or is even more energy efficient. Often there is no contradiction between good lighting design and energy efficient lighting. By planning and use of modern energy efficient light sources you get the right light where you need it and avoid unnecessary light and energy where you don't.

Light control also is an important tool to receive the right light environment and to save energy. In some cases we have a high installed effect but it is never meant to be used all at the same time. An environment can have different needs of light depending on time of day or function. In the House of Sweden we have a multipurpose room where the activity can be a conference, an exhibition, or a party—all need a different kind of lighting. Depending on the use of the room we can control the different luminaires and the light level to suit the situation.

The most difficult environment to make good lighting design, energy efficiency, and the needs from the customer to coexist is the commercial environment. The general situation today is the more light the better. In this case we believe you might have a chance to compete with less light if you do it differently to your surroundings and with the combination of special design of both light and architecture together.