So much is happening in the world of lighting that it’s incredibly challenging to keep up with all the new developments. Over time, I’ll write about many topics on lighting and advancements in lighting science that are actually quite exciting. To start, let me describe one of my current consulting projects.
Intro to DLC’s CALC QPL Program
Currently, I have an on-call contract with the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) to provide support for the relatively new Commercial Advanced Lighting Controls (CALC) initiative and corresponding Qualified Products List (QPL) program. Now, if you work for an electrical utility with an energy conservation program or for a trade ally organization that performs energy-efficient lighting upgrades and retrofits, you are probably already familiar with the DLC and its QPL for Light Emitting Diode (LED) commercial lighting products. But you may not have heard of the DLC’s CALC program. For the rest of you, this alphabet soup of acronyms is all completely new. For those readers, let me provide some quick background information and a simple description of the DLC and what it does; and then I’ll provide a little information about the work that I am doing for them.
Utilities Adopted Energy Star Standards
Years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started a consumer-focused program called Energy Star, which allows consumers to quickly and easily identify energy-efficient products for use in their homes. One of the market segments covered by Energy Star is replacement lamps (light bulbs) and residential luminaires (light fixtures). With Energy Star, consumers can walk into retailers and find products with the Energy Star logo on the packaging and instantly know that the product has met or exceeded some type of formal energy-efficiency standard, established by the EPA.
With the Energy Star standards already in place, electrical utilities with energy conservation programs adopted the Energy Star lighting standards for their lighting rebate and energy conservation programs. Utilities required all replacement lamps (light bulbs) and residential luminaires (light fixtures) to be Energy Star listed, in order to qualify for rebates and incentive funds. Thus, Energy Star became the first broadly recognized QPL.
DesignLights Consortium Creates Commercial LED QPL
The problem was that Energy Star only covered consumer products primarily intended for the residential market, whereas utilities needed minimum efficiency standards for lighting products used in commercial applications, which were covered by the utilities’ commercial lighting programs.
Recognizing this need, the Northeast Energy-Efficiency Partnership (NEEP), a regional non-profit energy-efficiency organization funded by utilities in the northeastern United States, tasked its own energy-efficient commercial lighting-focused entity, the DesignLights Consortium, to establish minimum efficacy standards for the rapidly developing commercial LED lighting market. Thus the DLC created its minimum efficacy standards for commercial LED lighting products and the DLC QPL was born.
As the first mover and most established standard for commercial lighting, adoption of the DLC standards quickly spread beyond the northeast and became the default standard for commercial LED lighting products across the U.S. and Canada. As a result of the broad adoption and support of the DLC standards, in January 2017, NEEP formally spun-off DLC, now an independent non-profit organization funded by utilities and conservation organizations throughout North America. The DLC’s minimum efficacy standards for commercial LED Lighting is about to adopt revision set 4.2 and its standards have contributed to a better than 40% increase in the efficacy of commercial LED products over the past five years.
Establishing Standards for Advanced Lighting Controls
Several years ago, the DLC’s leadership began to explore areas within commercial lighting where new standards and benchmarks were needed to help move the industry forward and help accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient lighting technology. It was determined that the emerging market of advanced lighting controls was the most opportune and the CALC program was initiated. At the time, and in my previous position at the Lighting Design Lab, I was invited to participate in a small team of national lighting and energy-efficiency experts, to help craft the initial CALC QPL standards. As part of the initiative’s development, the DLC renamed and rebranded the CALC program as the Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) program and formally launched it in June of 2016.
The DLC’s NLC program is a suite of tools and resources to enable widespread adoption of Networked Lighting Controls in commercial buildings. Included in the program is the DLC’s NLC QPL which establishes a set of minimum required criteria for advanced networked lighting control systems, necessary to achieve a baseline standard for energy-efficiency. In addition to the required criteria, the standard also requires manufacturers to report on additional capabilities and functionality that will likely be required in future revisions of the standards.
By requiring that both required and non-required capabilities of the connected lighting control system be published on the QPL, system specifiers and potential customers can easily compare the attributes and capabilities of all qualified systems on the list. Additionally, manufacturers can determine which attributes and functions are important to utility programs and which features will need to be included in future products in order to qualify for the QPL under subsequent revisions.
Evaluating Lighting Control Systems with DLC and Manufacturers
In my current role, as an external contractor to the DLC, I review and evaluate lighting control systems that have been submitted to DLC for inclusion on the NLC QPL. Working with the DLC Program Managers for the NLC program, I review the submitted applications. Through a detailed process, I verify that each system offers all of the required functions and meets or exceeds the minimum criteria to qualify. Additionally, I verify that all of the functions that each manufacturer is required to report have been accurately depicted.
As part of the work, I regularly communicate and interact with the product managers and engineers from the control system manufacturers. I also work with the DLC team on the development of the next NLC standards and the development of training tools to help educate specifiers, trade allies and property operators on the capabilities and optimal operation of these NLC systems.
Expert, Independent Help for Your Energy-Efficient Lighting Project
I would love to help you with a similar project! Check out other pages of this website to see a small sampling of other projects I’ve worked on and the variety of ways I can help you, centered around ensuring the optimal applications of the best practices in energy-efficient lighting systems, primarily within existing buildings. Give me a call, email me, or fill in the contact form and I’ll get back to you promptly to discuss ideas about your project.