This piece was originally published in the March/April 2019 issue of electroindustry.
The notion of quality can be elusive. In the manufacturing world, quality typically connotes a degree of excellence or a measurable Standard by which we compare like items. To a consumer, however, quality can be all of that and much more. Quality can involve personally subjective attributes, such as style and taste. In the lighting world, both types of quality play an important role in our daily lives.
Before 1925 the concepts of a correlated color temperature (CCT) and color rendering index (CRI) for a light source never existed. People lived with light sources that were static in color. They simply screwed in the bulb and accepted whatever light they got. The lighting industry progressed and over time technology was developed to produce a variety of light sources, each with its own CCT and CRI. Still, once you purchased a light source, it remained static. The ability to dynamically change the color of an individual light source across the visible spectrum of the rainbow was virtually out of reach. The light-emitting diode (LED) is changing the game. Most people know LED lighting from their tremendous energy savings, but when coupled with precision controls and communication platforms, a quantum change in lighting quality is emerging in ways we are only beginning to experience.
With LED technology, CCT and a high CRI can now be precisely “dialed in.” But now imagine this: The visual atmosphere for a Friday night home dinner party or movie can be “tuned” to fit personal tastes and styles and even define the quality of the dining experience. With a few taps on a smart device, this idea can be replicated in virtually any space with connected lighting … each to its own end.
The future of LED lighting goes beyond mood-setting. Today, there is buzz in the lighting industry around circadian rhythms and how electric lighting may enhance human and plant functioning. For example, the agriculture industry is experimenting with LEDs and controls to maximize the quantity and the quality of harvests by adjusting lighting around-the-clock.
NEMA addresses lighting quality from many angles via its five Sections within the Lighting Systems Division. We are also a leading voice in the Lighting Controls Association (LCA) and Daylight Management Council (DMC). The Lighting Sections provide the foundation for the industry to stand on: Standards to ensure efficiency and compatibility; and Government Relations to lead legislators and regulators from Washington to state capitals via voluntary industry Standards and best practices.
The LCA is working to educate the industry—architects and designers, specifiers and contractors, owners and end users—so that we can all benefit from being able to control and adjust our environment efficiently throughout the day, seasons, and years.
And the DMC works to ensure that daylight reaches deep into our living spaces and lives. Doctors and patients, teachers and students, parents and children, pets and plants—all of us—benefit from the creation of better rhythms for our respective settings. Modern LEDs have the potential to align the ebb and flow of daylight and electric light in tune with the cycles of life.
NEMA’s Lighting Members are producing high-quality innovation, high-quality products, and high-quality installations that are all leading to a higher quality of light and, in turn, a better quality of life.
Mark J. Gliebe
Chairman, NEMA Board of Governors