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15 Ways to Improve Lighting Quality In Commercial Applications

  • These 15 tips are designed to help you preserve or improve lighting quality in commercial applications, courtesy of NEMA.

    1. Increase luminous comfort by distributing light on walls and ceilings
    2. Specify a Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating of >80 when color rendering is important, along with “white” light sources between 3000 and 4100K in color temperature
    3. Consider lower and/or translucent partitions for open plan offices
    4. Choose an 80% reflectance for ceiling finishes and a 70% reflectance for walls and vertical partitions. For indirect lighting and daylighting, use a 90% ceiling reflectance.
    5. Specify lighting systems (lamp-ballast combinations) that provide a minimum maintained efficacy of 90 lumens/watt
    6. Utilize occupancy sensors to ensure that unused lighting is shut off
    7. Consider high-efficiency fluorescent electronic ballasts
    8. Reduce power with a combination of high-lumen “Super T8” lamps and low-output ballasts or reduce fixture count with standard or high-output ballasts
    9. Consider low-wattage ceramic metal halide lamps as an alternative to tungsten halogen lamps, and pulse-start metal halide instead of probe-start metal halide
    10. Reduce lamps or number of fixtures in some indirect lighting applications with one T5HO lamp instead of two T8 lamps, or otherwise increase the fixture spacing
    11. Use only electronic ballasts for linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent and metal halide lamps
    12. Consider compact fluorescent or low-wattage metal halide instead of incandescent lamps when feasible
    13. Layer the lighting design where practical so that the general lighting system does not do the heavy lifting of task lighting
    14. Minimize maintenance by choosing lamps with maximum service life
    15. Choose light fixtures that offer the highest optical efficiency

An Introduction to EPAct

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 establishes a long-range energy policy to combat the nation’s growing energy crisis. Effective Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2013, the U.S. government is offering substantial, accelerated tax incentives as a reward for installing or retrofitting energy-efficient lighting, HVAC and/or building envelope technologies in qualifying applications.

Lighting, a critical component of energy use today, costs 40% of the average commercial building’s electric bill. Energy efficient upgrades reduce energy consumption and operating costs by 30 to 50% and often pay for themselves within months.

Generally, lighting retrofit investments are amortized over the life of the system. One of the most significant benefits of EPAct 2005 is that it allows a larger portion of the capital investment to be depreciated in the first year.

EPAct 2005 Qualifications

To qualify for the EPAct 2005 tax deductions, a commercial building property must:

Be located in the U.S. and fall within the scope of ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2001; and Receive an upgrade/installation of:
(1) interior lighting system, or
(2) heating/cooling/ventilation/hot water systems, or
(3) building envelope that was put in service between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2013

Be certified as being an “energy-efficient property,” defined as one that has 50% of the total annual energy and power costs of a building satisfying ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2001.

To receive the tax deduction, the deduction must:

Not exceed the cost of the upgrade, including materials, labor and design; and

Be taken in the taxable year the property or upgrade is placed in service (2006 - 2013); and

Be calculated based on the square footage of the upgraded building.
– Up to $1.80/sq. ft. for “energy-efficient property”
– Up to $0.60/sq. ft. each for interior lighting, HVAC/hot water and building envelopes

To claim the tax deduction*, you must be:
The owner or entity who paid to have the commercial building constructed or renovated
The party primarily responsible for designing the publicly owned property

* Circumstances vary widely. Before pursuing or claiming any deduction described in this brochure, consult your tax advisor concerning your specific tax situation and potential changes in the applicable tax laws.

For additional information: Lighting Tax Deduction

Lights for Less, LLC | 500 N. Walnut Rd. Kennett Square, PA 19348 | 610-925-5740