WARREN (WWJ) — High-tech lighting in Michigan is a really bright idea.

Just ask any of the 250-plus attendees Tuesday who jammed the Electrical Industry Training Center in Warren for the Michigan Advanced Lighting Conference.

The advanced lighting industry offers huge benefits for the Michigan economy, the environment, and building owners and managers, speakers said.

Morning keynoter John “Jack” Curran, a high-tech lighting consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, noted that there are two billion light sockets in America. And just about all of them can be replaced with an advanced light bulb — compact flourescent, LED or other technologies — that use far less energy.

An LED replacement for a 60-watt incandescent bulb, for instance, uses just 9 watts, Curran said. Multiply that by two billion and you’re talking a huge impact on energy use and carbon footprint.

There’s also the aesthetic quality of high-tech lighting, which is much closer to sunlight and can be generated in a near-infinite variety of colors. That means much better looking interiors that are infinitely customizable.

“I believe it won’t be long before you enter a room and its lighting will be customized for you,” Curran said.

Presenter Stefan Graf, principal at the Ypsilanti lighting contractor Illuminart, said advanced lighting not only saves energy but can dramatically improve the “visual comfort” of interior spaces, boosting productivity and worker and visitor satisfaction. He said poor lighting quality like glare and poor color rendering is like listening to sound on distorted speakers — you can still hear it, but it’s irritating.

Graf’s presentation is available online at this link.

Kurt McIntosh, product development manager at Oxford-based Relume Technologies, presented a case study on his company’s replacement of 3,117 metal halide lighting fixtures in the parking garage at the MGM Grand Detroit casino. The result: more even, glare-free lighting at a 78 percent reduction in energy use — saving the casino $350,000 a year in electric bills. The project used Relume’s ParkVue fixtures.

David Simon, president of Troy’s Toggled, talked about his company’s lighting retrofit project at the Detroit Zoo in partnership with Local 58 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The project included LED lighting in the zoo’s restrooms and an events pavilion.

Terri Schroeder, operations manager of Michigan Saves, a nonprofit dedicated to making energy improvements easier for Michigan homeowners and businesses, talked about a lighting retrofit at a Battle Creek golf course, Mingus Creek. Also, Scott Collins, project director at Bedrock Real Estate Services, and Nicole Bopp, director of business development at Detroit-based Nextek Power Systems, talked about the lighting retrofit at 1528 Woodward, part of the Bedrock real estate holdings of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert.

Mary Templeton, executive director of the Lansing nonprofit Michigan Saves, set up by the Michigan Public Service Commission to coordinate financing for energy conservation and renewable energy projects for homeowners and businesses, moderated the panel. For more about getting help for those projects from Michigan Saves, visit http://www.michigansaves.org.

Throughout the rest of the day, attendees discussed case studies and regulatory and technical issues related to advanced lighting, as well as Michigan’s place as a major manufacturer in this growing industry. More than two dozen companies also displayed products related to the field.


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