Aug 5, 2021

A progress report on Centro de Tecnología en Iluminación

By Michael Siminovich, Mauricio Alcocer Ruthling

In 2017, the Mexican Ministry of Energy awarded international funding to the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG) in collaboration with the University of California Davis (UCD) to establish a lighting technology and design research center known as the Centro de Tecnología en Iluminación (CTI). This is a multi-year, public-private investment focused on addressing growing climate change concerns through translational research committed to clean energy and sustainability in Mexico.

The purpose of CTI is to accelerate the development and adoption of energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies, as well as to help build talent and human capital for Mexico’s lighting industry. CTI’s research capabilities will help meet Mexico’s long-term energy-efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

Despite COVID-19-related delays, researchers at UAG and UCD made steady progress bringing the original concept detailed in LD+A’s August 2018 issue to life. In this article, readers will be updated on the progress over the first two years of the multi-year project, which were focused on establishing CTI as a third-party proving ground for emerging lighting technologies. Additionally, the project team prioritized training and education in partnership with Mexico’s lighting industry to help build Mexico’s technical capacity for lighting. This dual focus of R&D and education significantly shaped the final design of the new 15,000-sq ft building, which includes laboratories, technology demonstrations and training spaces (Figures 1 and 2).

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To achieve these goals, the project team concentrated on four key activities:

1) Building a Research, Development & Demonstration Lighting Center
To help inform the design of CTI, market assessment activities were conducted with partners from industry, the public sector and professional lighting-related practitioners. Outcomes helped the project team identify CTI priorities to fully support Mexico’s lighting energy saving and sustainable lighting design practices.

Industry Feedback. Lighting industry partners requested support with 1) developing new cost-effective, energy saving lighting strategies, and 2) providing the marketplace with evidence-based case studies and guides for said strategies. Specifically, industry partners were interested in collaborating on projects that focus on four areas:

To help address daylight research needs, a full-scale model classroom at CTI has been instrumented with sensors, while the flexible ceiling layout allows for studies of daylight harvesting and light distribution strategies.

Public Sector Feedback. Public sector partners, primarily from municipal and state agencies, expressed interest in energy-efficient lighting strategies for:

Additional unifying themes from CTI’s public sector partners included aging infrastructure, rising energy costs and the need for sustainable design. This was particularly evident in interactions with public school partners where significant improvements in energy efficiency and lighting quality will support both student and teacher’s well-being.

Lighting Designer & Specifier Feedback. Lighting designer and specifier partners expressed a need to better understand today’s new construction and retrofit lighting best practices to ensure they are taking advantage of the recent advancements in technology. There was interest in developing third-party, evidence-based education materials that clearly outline the savings potential for today’s lighting technologies.

2) Establishing the Photometry Laboratory
Over the first two years of the project, CTI and its partners invested in the development of a photometric testing laboratory to assist the regulatory, industry and professional communities with product testing focused on performance, longevity and quality (Figure 4).

In the next phase of the project, CTI will offer comprehensive photometric testing as a service to both the private and public sectors. Training and education activities will be integrated with this service, allowing students to become familiar with photometric testing procedures and methods. In the long term, CTI will offer a certificate program for photometric testing and measurements.

3) Developing Education & Training Programs
In response to the Mexican Ministry of Energy’s directive for development of talent and human capital in the energy sector,1 CTI’s mission has a strong emphasis on education and training. Discussions with CTI’s partners reinforced this directive by emphasizing the need for pragmatic education and training in lighting. Topic areas include a focus on professional education with offerings that range from general lighting fundamentals to more complex subject areas such as advanced lighting controls, daylighting design, testing procedures and lighting design best practices. To support this approach, CTI has established five education and training pathways:

4) Conducting Research Projects
To date, CTI has established two research and testing efforts with industry partners on 1) daylight harvesting and 2) vacancy-occupancy controls for common spaces. An early focused effort has been directed at daylight harvesting opportunities using side-by-side labs (Figure 7), as well as the full-scale classroom for controlled studies.

CTI’s side-by-side office configuration allows for continuous, comparative measurements for daylight harvesting approaches. The iso-lux photograph (left of Figure 7) shows ongoing calibration work with near-identical distribution characteristics between the two test rooms. One of the spaces has daylight harvesting controls, while the other does not and serves as the control for performance and energy use comparison.

Control strategies for Mexico’s common spaces, such as the corridor pictured in Figure 8, are also being evaluated by CTI researchers, with an emphasis on implementation barriers unique to Mexico. Preliminary research focused on fixture integrated sensors vs. zonal sensing strategies to reduce light levels up to 50% during periods of detected vacancy.

As the project team emerges from COVID-19 shutdowns, CTI will host two high-visibility industry-sponsored symposiums on horticultural lighting and municipal lighting. CTI will also launch its first formal testing and measurement efforts as an industry service activity. Additionally, several demonstration projects associated with early research endeavors on daylight harvesting in education facilities; smart exterior lighting; and bi-level occupancy controls in public spaces (i.e., corridors, lobbies, etc.) will be initiated.

The authors greatly appreciate the support of SENER and the CONACYT-SENER Energy Sustainability Fund, as well as the continued support and vision from UAG Vice Rector Juan Carlos Leaño and the assistance of Dr. Judith Arredondo Safa. The project team thanks our industry partners for providing system components for CTI’s teaching and training spaces, with a special thanks to Construlita Lighting International for donating the goniophotometer for CTI’s testing laboratory.

1 Sectoral Fund CONACYT-Secretariat of Energy-Energy Sustainability RFP 2017


Michael Siminovitch

Michael Siminovitch

Michael Siminovitch is UCD director, Centro de Tecnología en Iluminación, director, California Lighting Technology Center, and the Arthur H. Rosenfeld Chair and Professor Emeritus in Design, University of California,... More info »
Mauricio Alcocer Ruthling

Mauricio Alcocer Ruthling

Mauricio Alcocer Ruthling is UAG director, Centro de Tecnología en Iluminación, director, Center of Sustainability & Renewable Energy, and founder of the master’s degree program in Renewable Energy at Universidad Autónoma de... More info »