For the Common Good

by Katie Lee

Adapting to LED technology for efficient lighting.

By Perry Levin

The benefits of LED lighting are undeniable at this stage. However, acceptance of LED lights has more to do with questioning conformity that has been common practice since the 1950s in the face of more efficient technology. Lighting is viewed in the context of the light bulb with little differentiation over the last 100 years.

Business has viewed lighting as an operating expense, a maintenance item. The recession has afforded the industry an opportunity to evolve with new and better products and applications. It was during that time that people in the lighting industry contributed to this evolution by assisting the better manufacturers in creating new applications for a myriad of users. Today the paradigm shifted. The progress of LED now requires a different perspective: that of added value creating increased long term net cash flow. The additional benefits are tangible and add to efficiency. Now the industry even with greater acceptance is viewed in the context of the old paradigm. However, one knows there is something more when interpretation of what is known is no longer adequate.

It is time to adjust. Progress involves review of previous practices and the personal relationships that have flourished as a result. The construction process features the party responsible for installing the lighting, purchasing the lighting and having a contract to replace lighting when required and profiting from each task. How does the process adjust when LED lighting is guaranteed for 5 years and may continue with no noticeable loss of brightness for 10 years depending on usage? How does a landlord who is reimbursed for common area maintenance expenses adapt to new capital expenses (changing lighting including parking lot lighting) and deal with reduced electrical expense reimbursement from the tenants? Why would a landlord spend additional money on lighting in an individual unit when the tenant pays the electric? There needs to be recognition of mutual benefit where previously none existed or was sought. The challenges endure even with recognition that technology can increase profitability. Many in the industry are looking in the rear view mirror and find trouble adjusting when it means modifying existing relationships and practices.

At the same time recognition of a problem is only a part of the solution. While understanding and acceptance of the benefits is taking place, LEDs are being viewed as generic. However, all LEDs are not the same or created equal. They are differentiated by color rendering index, size of the chips and dissipation of heat. Additionally, the industry continues to advance. The products sold just a few years ago are much less sophisticated by today’s standards. The technological innovators tend to produce quality LEDs that reduce heat (therefore deterioration) and have meaningful warrantees. At this time the effectiveness is proven and standardization is setting in to assist in the adaption process, which is always an educational experience.

With technology, one is either in front of the curve or behind it. Currently we are utilizing solar energy and adapting it to power LED lights when effective. We realize that even with incentives, the concept has many of the same challenges.

One of the largest national companies projected that in the next 10 years 70% of the lighting will be LED. Currently it is less than 10%. They might not be correct but there is a reason that one of the largest domestic lighting manufacturers announced that they will only produce LED lighting.


— Perry Levin is partner of LED AMP Energy, which has worked with major manufacturers to create lighting applications for its clients. Clients include property owners, retailers and restaurant tenants who use lighting as a background to enhance ambiance and contribute to brand identification. Email the author at [email protected].

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