A group of lighting professionals talks about what keeps them awake at night
By Samantha Schwirck
Innovation, evolution, revolution, disruption…How many of today’s most popular TED Talks, best sellers, even Netflix specials, include these words in the title or description? Our days overflow with statistics about “the next big job” and “the new face of American unemployment,” and our evenings are consumed by an endless queue of post-apocalyptic fiction—it’s no surprise we’re left tossing and turning come bedtime. With lighting changing as much as any industry, we asked a group of professionals one simple question: What keeps you up at night? Their responses touch on everything from dark-sky preservation to cyber security.
Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design, George Washington University
I wonder how many more generations will enjoy the view of the night sky that my children and I enjoy on our annual trek to the Arctic watershed and hope that students of my lighting class gain an awareness of the very short history of the electric light and how in that short span of time it has shaped the way that we live as well as affected the natural environment.
Principal, Goodman & Co., LLC
[What keeps me up at night is] all of the unknown consequences of LED technology’s early adoption with a focus on strictly energy savings. You don’t have to look too hard to find numerous studies espousing the potential negative human effects of poorly designed fixtures, or even well designed fixtures using early LED technology. Energy goes into the fixture but people live and work under what comes out. I really don’t know why there were billions of dollars poured into\ rushing adoption so far in advance of the industry’s understanding of its effect. We should make lighting fixtures, not widgets for energy savings.
What keeps me up is the demand to develop products fast enough to stay in line with, if not ahead of the trends, while also ensuring they will last a very long time once in the hands of our clients. I can tell you from the questions I have received that this latter point keeps our clients up at night as well. While people have accepted, and welcomed, changing smart phones every one to two years to benefit from new features, they expect their hand-crafted LED light fixtures to last at least a generation. And that requires serious design consideration.
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Vode Lighting
I have been reading the book Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly, which reads, “So, the truth: Right now, today, is the best time to start something on the Internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, ‘Oh to have been alive and well back then!’ ” What keeps me up at night: Am I receptive enough to hear the whisper of the new, humble enough to realize its significance, and do I have the vision to make a difference?
MARIEL TAVIANA ACEVEDO
Manufacturer’s Representative, Solus
The quick turnaround and changes of product at the manufacturer’s level. With the constant growth and improvement of LED I always worry that the fixtures we got specified will get modified, or worse discontinued and replaced, in the timeframe from specification to submittal to actual orders. Manufacturers will often change part numbers and cut sheets if they upgraded the LED chip and driver which is an easy fix, but sometimes the fixtures change dimensions or outputs during these upgrades and that can create big problems on a partially built job and approved job.
MINT KAMOLNADDA THUMRONGLUCK
Lighting Designer, L’Observatoire International
My nighttime contemplation revolves around time, a resource I value greatly. I am constantly questioning if I have spent it well enough, and if I feel there is enough meaning and significance in every moment in our lives within the chaos of the current political environment. I am currently trying to reevaluate how to go about being more efficient with spending time in what I love and want to pursue.
LED Educator/Consultant, Creator, The LED Show
What keeps me up at night and throughout the day is one and the same—security within the lighting protocols. In the rush to produce a trendy product, some manufacturers will cut cost and reduce the customer’s Internet safety. It is easy to make a light dim or change colors via a cell phone. The tough part or responsible part is how it affects the rest of the network and its connections. A standard or entry level of security should be minimally required, like a UL/ETL/etc. listing. Not to layer on another hurdle for manufacturers, but to set the bar for consumer protection.
Principal, Navigate Design
The interior design community embraced LED technology during its infancy, immediately recognizing it as an innovative concept. While the general public has also grasped the concept of energy efficiency within the last decade, the hospitality and F&B industry has yet to justify the upfront capital required to purchase LED technology. What keeps me up at night is that a number of restaurant clients do not understand the long-term benefits of using LED—rather they are driven by shorter term ROIs. In addition, a lot of clients still fear LEDs, thinking they are always cold and can never replace the ambience generated from halogen lamps.
Strategic Market Manager, Commercial Lighting, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
While the adoption rate of LED lighting is soaring, controls have yet to feel the love. Less than 20 percent of installed lighting includes controls of any kind, and that holds true for LED lighting installations. Yet controls, and especially advanced connected lighting controls, are our best option in the lighting world for reducing energy use, reducing dependence on fossil fuel and combating climate change. How can efficiency programs work in synergy with the market to create a world where smart lighting is as common as smart phones?
Building Grid Technologies Sales Manager, Robert Bosch LLC
I think about two issues, both focused on product quality and performance. The first deals with the potential maintenance burden that looms from LED fixtures. While there’s a lot of discussion around the longevity of the LEDs in luminaires, there’s a lack of data around the life of the AC drivers and little awareness that direct current technology can significantly improve the lifespan of an LED fixture. The second deals with how customers evaluate financial considerations. While a quick payback can be one effective means of evaluation, it can also lead to the installation of less robust components that won’t go the distance.