Over the past decade, architects and lighting designers have witnessed a number of sustainability measures that are shaking up the lighting industry, helping to drive product development while reducing energy use. These initiatives include the incandescent lamp phase-out, along with the promotion of state adoption of updated building energy codes. These are some of the points Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) director of public policy Robert Horner and International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) public policy consultant John Martin made during a presentation to about 60 interior designers at the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) legislative symposium, held in Washington, D.C., on April 14 and 15. 
In their presentation, Horner and Martin identified several issues that have arisen regarding lighting legislation and regulation. One such item is the requirement for use of lighting controls in new and renovated buildings, as mandated by California’s Title 24 Energy Code. Another shift is the move from measuring only installed lighting wattage in buildings to measuring and counting real energy use, which could lead to submetering of lighting and other building systems. Trade associations and professional lighting societies are advocating for measuring building performance in BTU per square foot per year. Horner and Martin also identified the rise of the Net Zero Energy (NZE) building, as exemplified by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007’s requirement for NZE in new commercial buildings by 2030, and increased use of daylighting, along with sensors and controls for electric lighting installed in daylit spaces, as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In addition to looking at legislation that has already had an impact on the lighting industry, Horner and Martin also presented synopses of some of the current energy-efficiency bills currently making their way through the legislative process on Capitol Hill.
  • At the time of the presentation, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), was still waiting on Congressional approval. As of last week, the House of Representatives passed the bill and it is now waiting on President Obama's signature. The bipartisan measure creates Tenant Star, a voluntary certification and recognition program run by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to promote energy efficiency during the design and occupancy of a leased space. It also requires federally leased buildings without Energy Star labels to benchmark their energy usage data. 
  • Another bill introduced by Portman and Shaheen is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which incentivizes the use of efficiency technologies and upgrades in residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.  Three provisions of this bipartisan legislation, commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill, were passed in the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, but the original bill remains largely intact as it heads to a hearing on April 30 in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. One provision of the bill encourages the adoption of state building codes that meet or exceed the model building energy code (IECC-2009 for residential buildings and ASHRAE 90.1-2010 for commercial buildings). This means that lighting designers must ensure that lighting, controls, and daylighting meet the code requirements.
  • Another bill for lighting designers to watch is the 179D commercial building tax deduction. Under 179D, building owners who spend money to render new or renovate commercial buildings more energy efficient will again be eligible for an immediate, one-time federal tax deduction, calculated based on the energy use results compared to a 2001 benchmark ASHRAE 90.1-2001. The legislation raised the total deduction from $1.80 to $3.00 per square foot and from 60 cents to $1.00 for the lighting component as compared to the baseline standard outlined in ASHRAE 90.1 – 2007.
Lighting designers and architects, along with allied design professionals such as interior designers, will have to continue to track these and other energy efficiency measures as they advance through the legislative process to understand how the rules and regulation could affect their work.