Twelve plus a bonus—policy matters to keep an eye on in 2019
By Alex Baker
As a child with a surname devoid of subtlety I endured many jokes about baking cookies, cakes, bread and whatnot, while being falsely associated with the butcher and the candlestick maker and made to explain why my dozen is one unit greater than everyone else’s. I only recently bothered to investigate the answer to that: Bakers in medieval England (no relation), lacking scale to measure their dough and hoping to avoid flogging and fines for selling undersized loaves, would add a 13th to each dozen sold to ensure the customer’s satisfaction. Well, I don’t know how satisfying this will be, but herewith please find this Baker’s dozen or so policy matters that may be worth keeping an eye on in the coming year.
1. EERE funding is in place, and is up. It’s amazing how functional Washington, D.C. can be when an election is looming. Energy efficiency advocates ended 2018 celebrating two big wins. First, for the first time since 2009 the bill funding the Department of Energy was signed into law before the start of the new fiscal year. With funding secured in advance, DOE staff will be able to move forward confidently with their work while avoiding the confusion and loss of productivity and momentum that results from operating under Continuing Resolutions. Second, in a rebuke of White House proposals to slash DOE programs, Congress increased funding for the Building Technologies Office (BTO, +2%), for the Advanced Manufacturing Office (+5%) and ARPA-E (+4%). Two percent more for BTO could be helpful for lighting-related initiatives.
2. But Dr. Brodrick has left the building… now what? After shepherding the DOE’s Solid-State Lighting Program through more than a dozen Congressional funding cycles, Dr. Jim Brodrick has retired from his post. Jim, of course, leaves behind very big shoes to fill. With this opening and the slight uptick in BTO funding from Congress, how will the Department’s political appointees react? Will the program continue, and who will lead? The 2019 R&D Workshop has been announced: January 29-31 in Dallas/Fort Worth. That’s good news. Let’s hope for more promising news about the program’s future. And with our thanks for his leadership, let’s wish Jim a long, happy and healthy retirement.
3. System efficiency may get its day, at least in the House. The Alliance to Save Energy, of which the IES is a member, continues its efforts to secure passage of federal legislation promoting energy efficiency at the building systems scale. Systems efficiency is a topic of great interest to many manufacturers of building systems, and with the House of Representatives having flipped in the November election, newly installed Democratic Chairs may be keener to see legislation moved to the floor for a vote. Getting the Senate to spend time on this issue will be more challenging, though Senator Wyden (D-OR) has expressed interest in the topic.
4. Infrastructure. No but really, infrastructure. Mention the word “infrastructure” around any table in D.C. these days and you’re bound to hear a few quiet chuckles. The Trump Administration has made several unsuccessful attempts to launch infrastructure initiatives, only to have those efforts overshadowed by more pressing news. Regardless, in 2019 the High Performance Buildings Coalition, of which the IES is a member, will continue spreading the message that buildings are infrastructure, in hopes that any new infrastructure spending might also be made available for new building construction, and retrofitting of existing buildings.
5. Qualified improvement property (QIP) and tax extender uncertainty continues to stifle investment. At press time, with 14 days left to the lame duck and only nine days left to pass seven appropriations bills to avoid federal agency shut downs, House Republicans have released a 297-page tax bill including extenders for 179D, 45L and 25C tax incentives, all retroactive for 2018 only. Deficiencies in existing qualified improvement property (QIP) language are addressed, however, barring a miraculous surge in Congressional productivity we may look to the 116th Congress for action. See my May and September 2018 articles for more details.
6. Certification programs are threatened. Over the last year, various state legislatures have scrutinized professional credentialing programs using the term “certification,” under the premise of bringing these programs under state licensing control. In recent months, such a measure was defeated in Louisiana but passed the Missouri General Assembly and was signed into law during Governor Greitens’s final hours in office. Similar bills are currently being considered in Ohio (SB 255), Michigan (HB 6114) and Illinois (SB 3646). These initiatives threaten the existence of certification programs that lighting practitioners and the lighting industry have come to rely on. Keep an ear open for such proposals in your state, consider getting involved locally, and please do drop a line if you hear of something.
7. The AIA addresses school safety. In October, the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Education (AIA CAE) held a Symposium on the Design of Safe, Secure & Welcoming Learning Environments, which I attended on behalf of IES membership. The event’s purpose was developing “recommendations and guidelines for the physical design of school campuses to address school safety & security” while emphasizing “both the root causes of school violence and the responses necessary to mitigate its impact.” With students from the Parkland, FL school shooting in attendance to lend their perspectives, this symposium served as a starting point for the building industry’s engagement with this issue in the months and years to come.
8. Emergence of an outcome-based Title 24 compliance path. Having assessed wins and losses from the 2019 revisions to Title 20 and Title 24, the California Energy Alliance, of which IES is a member, is now finalizing its goals for the 2022 revision cycles. Among the lighting-related initiatives, development of an outcome- based code compliance pathway is generating excitement among members. As a potential third pathway alongside the existing prescriptive and performance paths, outcome-based code compliance would rely on energy consumption data easily obtained through building automation systems. With the California Energy Commission having expressed real interest in this effort, this work will continue in earnest in 2019.
9. Speaking of California, something’s gotta happen with JA8. Lighting designers are crying foul over Joint Appendix 8 in California’s Title 24, with some indicating that the associated testing burden is leading manufacturers to certify exceedingly few products, leaving designers very little to work with. Some lighting designers are weighing the risks of losing projects for lack of product with which to design, versus moving projects forward with non-compliant elements. I am studying this issue closely, along with my policy counterparts at IALD, and will be reaching out to California IES Sections in the coming months to gather more information. In the meantime, any and all input from IES Members would be most welcome.
10. The end of widget-centric lighting incentives? EPA has begun development of the Energy Star Smart Home Energy Management System (SHEMS) program model which could incentivize consumers to install packages of connected lighting, thermostats and switching for miscellaneous electric loads (MELs). Combined with occupancy sensors and smart algorithms, this system approach could save more energy than incentivizing widgets alone. With store shelves now filled with LED options for nearly every consumer lamp type, will we see more stringent Energy Star V3.0 lighting specifications developed, or, will EPA consider the consumer lighting market transformed, and sunset those specs? Or will EPA need a Lamps V3.0 spec, this time certifying only connected lamps, to enable the SHEMS model? We may find out this year.
11. TM-21-related marketing claims subject to increased scrutiny. IES TM-21-11 produces three projections. First, a Calculated L70 (Dk) (e.g. 189,965 hours to L70): low statistical confidence and not intended for application use. Second, a Projected L70 (Dk) (e.g. 130,131 hours to L70): interpolated by temperature, low statistical confidence and not for application use. Those projections beget a Reported L70 (Dk)—TM-21’s final product—an interpolated projection capped at 5.5 or 6 times the LM-80 test duration (e.g. > 60,000 hours to L70), with a high degree of statistical confidence and intended for application use. TM-21 Addendum B (replaced Addendum A) states that only the Reported L70 value shall be reported.
Lighting manufacturers, electric utilities and market transformation program administrators all know: the market is run amok with marketing claims that confuse these terms, often quite intentionally. The IES Board of Directors has taken a position on this matter; see IES PS-10-18. The coming year should bring an industry-wide reckoning as business executives and thought leaders wake up to the widespread undermining of the long-life value proposition central to the promise of solid-state lighting.
12. UVC measurement standards to take shape. Ultraviolet “disinfection” devices have been deployed in medical settings for years now, with adoption increasing despite a lack of industry standards for measuring the performance of UVC lamps, luminaires and systems. With the support and expertise of IES Members working together with other organizations, UVC standardization is likely to move forward this year. Look for more on this subject in a future column.
13. The phrase “human-centric lighting” will disappear forever. Please?