The article, 'Uncle Sam Gives Back for Efficient Lighting,' brings back memories of the 1970s when, during the 'Energy Crisis,' I served on several government agencies and other committees whose mission was to get our country on track to save energy. It was quite amazing to me the number of schemes presented, most of which had little merit. It was clear that if I was to be of value, I would have to propose a positive, simple approach that would be easy for practicing professionals to incorporate in their work. At the same time this would need to be an easy-to-use system so that code officials could readily apply it. My contribution was a mathematical equation that set the upper power limit for lighting in new buildings. That equation was adopted. But it was William Tao, a brilliant engineer on the committee, who used that equation to produce Unit Power Density (UPD) tables that met the criteria of easy and simple. We owe a lot to Mr. Tao.
The lighting density table published in your Jan/Feb 2006 issue ('Uncle Sam Gives Back for Efficient Lighting,' Page 20) shows the reduction of allowable power density from 1989 to 2004. The reduction in allowable connected load has been significantly reduced in that four-year period. When compared to the UPD's that Bill Tao and I worked on, the reduction in connected load is quite significant.
I am greatly concerned that if we continue on this course of limiting power for lighting we will be doing a great disservice to the significant role that lighting plays in the built environment. It is interesting for me to observe that most of the wonderfully lighted projects illustrated in this same issue far exceed the limits in the table you published. Further, in my opinion, if the designers had followed the limits set in the 2004 table, they could not have produced those magnificent lighting schemes. That would have been a disaster for their clients. I applaud professionals who serve their clients needs. They are the true professionals that exercise professional judgment to optimize the use of energy.
It is clear that energy zealotry is missing the point when it comes to lighting. The time is now to rethink where we are going and produce a table that is consistent with the needs of different user groups.
howard m. brandston, Founding Partner, Brandston Partnership, New York