WARREN — More than 130 building managers, contractors and other building technology experts gathered at the Electrical Industry Training Center Tuesday for the 2012 Michigan Lighting and Energy Conference.
The event offered information and recommendations on the rapidly evolving technology of energy-efficient lighting systems for commercial, municipal and industrial buildings.
LED lighting is rapidly taking over in outdoor lighting, speakers said, and has applications in indoor lighting as well, along with advanced fluorescent and induction lighting.
Improving the efficiency of lighting can mean big bucks to a building owner or a municipality, since lighting can make up 20 to 30 percent of the energy budget of a building and 40 percent of the energy budget of a city.
And it isn’t all about LEDs. Induction lamps — essentially filamentless flourescent lamps using powerful magnetic fields — offer far longer lamp life and lower energy use than currently used high pressure sodium lamps.
Attendees were advised to get multiple quotes from multiple sources for all lighting projects, including a detailed analysis of five- and 10-year total cost of ownership, and to consider good-better-best options.
The event also featured nearly two dozen exhibitors showing off the latest in advanced lighting and control technology.
A good example is Nextek Power Systems, a client of the NextEnergy state renewable energy accelerator, which offers technology for direct current lighting that can be moved around a ceiling as easily as ceiling panels.
Nextek makes a control unit for lighting that seamlessly blends AC power from the grid and DC power from solar installations, then distributes it on a low-voltage DC network of small plates installed in the ceiling that’s safe to the touch. Lamps and lighting fixtures can be installed anywhere along the plates and moved at a moment’s notice. The control unit can be controlled remotely though an Internet application from a remote computer or smartphone, allowing users to turn lights on or off from anywhere there’s an Internet connection.
The Electrical Industry Training Center is operated by the Southeast Michigan chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association and Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The center trains electricians for the area building trades.
Tom Bowes, director of education and outreach for the EITC, noted that “people are amazed that this is a union-management partnership that really works, and has for a long time.”
Bowes described for the crowd how the industry is now turning the EITC into a demonstration center for the electrical industry, from advanced lamps to fixtures to control hardware and software to advances in solar and wind energy.
“One of our goals is to make this building a showplace for our contractors,” Bowes said.