The Future is Looking Bright for LEDs

May 18, 2015 by

LED lightingFalling prices have made the benefits of LED lighting much more economical and compelling, expanding the market and causing an upswing in the adoption of LED lamps and lighting controls. This has made LEDs the preferred choice for lighting applications for commercial, residential, and industrial buildings says an article in Energy Manager Today.

According to a new report from Navigant Research, unit shipments of LED lamps and modules are expected to experience an overall 19 percent compound annual growth rate through 2024.

In the commercial market, the shift to LEDs will be most dramatic for retrofit projects. The report reveals that LED-based lamps sold to commercial retrofit projects worldwide is expected to grow to nearly 76 percent by 2024. This growth will basically eliminate incandescent and halogen technologies and take a significant share of the market from T8 and T5 fluorescent lamps, as well as from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

Also according to the report, LEDs are set to explode in residential and industrial applications as prices continue to come down, efficacy improves, and new cases for the lighting develop.

The soaring popularity of LEDs is not only attributed to its increasing affordability, but to the technology itself. They are durable, low maintenance, and don’t have a filament that can burn out or break. They have an unparalleled, even spectrum of light that offers clean white light, reliable solid state performance, and up to 50,000 hours of life. On average, LED lamps use a minimum of 50 percent less electricity and can last up to 10 times longer than most standard lighting products.

LEDs have made a particularly strong economic showing in outdoor applications, especially street lighting. This is because of the high wattages, minimal maintenance, and long runtimes of the lamps.

Read the complete article in Energy Manager Today for more details or check out the Navigant Research LED Lighting: Global Outlook report for more in-depth information.

DOE Invests $8M in Next Generation HVAC Systems

May 4, 2015 by

DOE LogoThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it is investing $8M in next generation heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) technologies.

According to a recent article in Energy Manager Today, HVAC systems today account for nearly 30% of the total energy used in U.S. commercial and residential buildings, and also are contributors to carbon emissions. The DOE is looking to improve the efficiency and reduce the emissions of HVAC systems by furthering the research and development of advanced vapor compression and non-vapor compression technologies.

early vapor compression ice machineVapor compression technology has served HVAC needs very effectively for the last 100 years. This technology moves heat through a closed-loop cycle by compressing, condensing, expanding, and evaporating a refrigerant fluid. Having replaced absorption and other cooling systems, vapor compression has become the dominant HVAC technology because of its scalability, relatively compact size, high reliability, and other attributes.

However, times have changed and we are now much more aware and concerned with energy conservation and global climate change. And unfortunately, the conventional refrigerants used in most vapor compression equipment have detrimental effects on the global environment when released in the atmosphere.

With this latest investment, the DOE wants to help the industry identify long-term alternatives to vapor-compression technology in commercial and residential HVAC applications.

Advanced vapor compression systems promise to use highly-efficient versions of the technologies that currently drive HVAC systems but use refrigerants that have minimal effect on the environment:

  • United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) will receive $975,000 to demonstrate a high-efficiency centrifugal compressor design that will enable 1.5- to 10-ton range commercial rooftop systems that could provide 30% annual energy savings with less than two years payback by 2020
  • Mechanical Solutions (MSI) and Lennox Industries will receive $1M to develop a 4- to 5-ton residential HVAC system featuring a small, high-efficient centrifugal compressor — a system that could be scaled up to commercial systems as large as 20 tons

Non-vapor compression systems will employ new technologies that use refrigerants that do not affect the environment and have the potential to use as much as 40% less energy than current systems:

  • Dais Analytic will receive $1.2M to advance membrane HVAC technology that will allow the system to condition air while improving energy efficiency and eliminating fluorocarbon refrigerants
  • Maryland Energy and Sensor Technologies (MEST) will receive $600,000 to develop a high-efficiency, compact thermoelastic cooling (TEC) system
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will receive $1.4M to develop a novel magnetocaloric air conditioner with the potential for efficiency improvements of up to 25% over conventional vapor compression systems
  • UTRC will also receive $1M to demonstrate an electrocaloric heat pump that will be 50% smaller than current models and could result in annual energy savings of more than 1.5 BTUs
  • Xergy will receive $1.4M to develop electrochemical compression (ECC) technology in combination with an energy recovery module to replace a solid-state compressor for use in heat pumps that could provide efficiency improvements of up to 56% in a commercial system

These new technologies also have the potential of improving the efficiencies of other building equipment that rely on heat-pumping technologies (e.g. water heaters, refrigerators), in addition to HVAC equipment.

Read the complete article in Energy Manager Today for more details. For more information on advanced and non-vapor compression HVAC technologies check out this interesting DOE report.


Happy Earth Day 2015

April 22, 2015 by

earth day 2015Today we commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day! This year’s theme, “It’s Our Turn to Lead” reminds us we all must work together towards environmental sustainability.

Check out what’s happening for Earth Day 2015 at

Drought Impacts California’s Energy

April 20, 2015 by

With California in the grip of an epic, multi-year drought, Governor Brown recently called for funding relief and critical water infrastructure projects and directed the first ever statewide mandatory water reductions.

California hydropowerOne aspect of the drought that isn’t being talked about is the effect on California’s energy. According to the California Energy Commission, the state’s water and energy resources are inextricably entwined. The most widely recognized aspect of the water-energy relationship is hydroelectricity production.

Energy is needed to pump, treat, transport, heat, cool, and recycle water. This accounts for nearly 20% of the electricity used in California and 30% of non-power plant-related natural gas consumed in California. However, some smaller publicly-owned utilities (irrigation districts) rely heavily on hydroelectricity and are more detrimentally impacted during drought times.

When the state is experiencing less rainfall, less snowpack in the mountains, and earlier snowmelt, less water is available to generate hydroelectricity. Also, reduced snowpack that is melting earlier could lower the amount of water that generates hydropower during the summer months, when electricity demand and prices are highest.

With less water available to generate hydroelectricity, natural gas and renewable energy supplies are used to make up the difference. Natural gas is more expensive than hydropower and produces greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. While renewable energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions and costs continue to decline, there are capital costs associated with new renewable energy capacity. Given that hydropower is one of the least expensive sources of energy and has zero emissions, substituting these other types of energy to make up the difference can definitely affect energy costs and carbon emission goals.

The drought’s impact on hydropower generation and California’s electricity supply is continually being monitored and assessed via the Energy Commission, who is part of the interagency Drought Task Force appointed by Governor Brown.

For more information, check out the California Energy Commission’s FAQs: Drought Impact on Hydropower and Facts on California’s Use of Hydroelectricity.

Energy Efficiency is a Top Priority for U.S. Mayors

April 11, 2015 by

Despite the challenges of capital funding and budget constraints, U.S. mayors are making energy efficiency a top priority for their cities, with most planning to increase spending on energy efficiency projects over the next five years.

This is according to a recent survey of nearly 300 cities representing all 50 US Conference of Mayorsstates titled Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities. The survey was performed by Philips and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,398 such cities in the country today.

Highlights of the survey include:

  • Nearly 3 in 10 cities are making LED/energy-efficient lighting technology their top priority over the next 24 months, and 1 in 5 cities are focusing on solar technology systems
  • LED/energy-efficient lighting was overwhelmingly rated (82%) as the most promising technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions, with solar electricity generation (54%) coming in second and green building (53%) placing third
  • 67% percent of mayors anticipate further growth in the deployment of new energy technologies in their cities over the next 5 years
  • Public buildings (83%) and outdoor lighting (54%) are identified as the two top priorities for cities in improving the energy efficiency of city infrastructure
  • Cities deploying all-electric vehicles increased to nearly 23%, up considerably from the previous survey in 2011
  • Most mayors expect to use their own local resources, as well as seek partnership with the private sector, to finance their energy efficiency projects
  • Three-quarters of the cities have developed an energy emergency response plan that maintains key municipal services during power outages
  • 54% of mayors are creating programs to engage local residents in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as their priority among other community-wide engagement initiatives

The results of the survey seem to confirm that U.S. mayors are seeing that investing in energy efficiency efforts benefits taxpayers, businesses, and their communities as a whole.

Be sure and read the complete survey, Energy Efficiency and Technologies in America’s Cities, for more detailed facts, figures, and information.