James Benya, Principal | Benya Lighting Design
While there are a lot of interesting product developments and trends in design, I'd like to address the trends in cost management. The specific trend I see is the lighting designer being held more accountable than ever before for the cost of the lighting, and the resultant need for greater diligence than I have ever experienced in my career.

From my experience, the costs of construction are presently inflating at a 10 to 20 percent annual rate. In part this is due to the U.S. and world economies, which are not nearly as rosy as we're being told, and in part due to the demands of Asia's astounding growth. I have been involved in at least 10 major projects in the last four years in which significant scope reductions occurred after schematic design to compensate for cost. One major project was put on hold for three years while new funding sources were found; another was reduced in size 20 percent to accommodate rapidly escalating costs. Almost every project seems to discard desirable architectural details and finishes to maintain cost these days.

While many of us might be tempted to blame LEED and other influences, the real culprits are energy costs, rapid economic growth in China and India, and the burden of war on the world's economy. Most recently, I have seen LEED initiatives on projects dropped, largely to save the costs of LEED documentation fees and to settle for a less sustainable but affordable building, but only after the structural steel bid package came in, like, 40 percent over budget.

For decades, we lighting designers have lived with the notion that good lighting is seen as a luxury. When the cost of basic building materials rises, the money allotted for lighting drops. In good times, lighting often gets the budget it needs to do the job right. Otherwise, the lighting budget is seen as something that can be cut to pay for the now-inevitable overruns in other aspects of the building.

Nancy Frehling, Vice President and Owner | Oggetti Luce
Color! Everyone is liking, and responding to, color. Even when we offer an item in white, the customer prefers it in color. Red is hot, also greens and orange.

Willard Warren, Lighting Consultant | Willard L. Warren Assoc. Lighting and Energy Consultants
Our conservative and inbred domestic auto industry is losing market share to the nimble, mostly Asian, car companies. Though much smaller, our lighting industry is also vulnerable. Look at the evidence; no more cheap fuels, new and more stringent energy codes and non-polluting regulations, emphasis on LEED criteria and sustainability, and very little basic research being done to respond to these trends (See ' The State of Lighting Research,' March 2006).

Someday, our government will make energy conservation and basic research priorities. Until then, the China Association of the Lighting Industry (CALI) will gain market share above their already $6 billion in U.S. lighting sales, mostly in residential fixtures, commercial down lights, small exterior luminaires, and lamps and ballasts. American lighting manufacturers have some choices:
• Automate plants to reduce labor content and hope that the cost of shipping from Asia will protect their market share.
• Increase off-shore manufacturing and reduce employment in the U.S.
• Sponsor research that responds to visual needs, not product development, and change the game.
• Develop products that are easier to install and correct the imbalance between material and labor, which has now grown too much.

When LEDs become efficacious enough to be used for general lighting, the Asian market will have no trouble displacing troffers with task ambient designs incorporated into the office furniture.

While we have more suppliers of niche lighting products than in the car industry, we have a few very large conglomerates, and the parallels are there.

Craig DiLouie, Principal | ZING Communications
Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction • energy codes • lighting automation • energy efficiency • upgrading existing T8 systems • daylighting • distributed control • fluorescent dimming • nonresidential construction rebound in 2006 • efficiency legislation and regulations • energy-saving T8 lamps and high-efficiency ballasts • upgrading high-bay HID installations to fluorescent, electronic fluorescent, and HID ballasts • colored and white LEDs • manufacturers moving production overseas • Asian manufacturers making inroads here • commoditization • light pollution legislation • smaller landscape fixtures • cut-off and full cut-off outdoor fixtures • T5 and T5HO systems • outdoor lighting included in interpretation of the Life Safety Code in some states • metal halide tracklighting • pulse-start lamps and ballasts • the Light Right Consortium • the Lighting Research Center's ASSIST program • Heschong Mahone's daylighting studies • in-ground burial fixtures • user dimming control • renewed consolidation • construction and materials inflation • fixture and component price increases • continual advances in aligning the Internet toward project management • indirect lighting • LEED • sustainable design • home lighting automation • IES-RP-1 • ceramic metal halide lamps • and an ongoing drive toward smaller, smarter, and more colorful fixtures-to name a few!