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Saving More with Networked Lighting Controls

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Liesel Whitney-Schulte's picture
Program Director, DesignLights Consortium

 Liesel Whitney-Schulte, LC, is the Program Director for the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), where she provides oversight and direction for strategic outreach and engagement programs, support for...

  • Member since 2018
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  • Oct 25, 2019

This item is part of the Energy Efficiency - Fall 2019 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

With their vast potential to boost energy efficiency and advance smart building goals, networked lighting controls (NLC) are poised to stoke the next phase of the LED lighting revolution.

The energy-saving promise of NLCs was highlighted in a 2017 DesignLights Consortium (DLC) study that showed adding NLCs to LED lighting projects can boost energy savings by nearly 50 percent. It’s helpful to consider this in the context of the savings potential of LEDs themselves – a technology that has transformed the world lighting market over the past decade. According to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) most recent report on LED adoption in the US, use of the technology delivered energy savings of nearly 470 trillion Btu in 2016 and reduced energy bills by approximately $4.7 billion. LEDs now dominate the residential lighting market and are making steady progress in the commercial and industrial sector - although C & I market uptake was still under 13 percent as of our 2017 study, leaving lots of potential energy savings on the table.

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LED lighting is a key tool to reduce energy consumed by buildings and the associated GHG emissions. But the addition of NLCs makes advanced lighting an even bigger game-changer. According to the DLC’s 2017 report, the potential additional energy savings resulting from adding NLCs to commercial LED installations over five years is equal to 75 terawatt hours (tWh) of electricity – about 17 times greater than the 4.5 tWh annual output of the Hoover Dam. What's more, those savings are projected to persist for a decade or longer.  

As we seek more and better data to promote the adoption of this important energy efficiency strategy, the DLC and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) have launched another study to update the 2017 findings. The goal of this one-year project is to accelerate adoption of NLC systems and services by providing more detailed usage and savings information, supporting the growth of utility incentive programs that reduce the upfront costs of NLCs.

The project will gather data from NLC systems installed in a variety of building types, including offices, warehouses, health care facilities, educational institutions, restaurants, retail establishments and manufacturing sites. With more building types, sites, and control companies represented than were in the 2017 study, the new study (planned for release in 2020) will investigate operational best practices to achieve even higher energy savings through LED with NLC projects.

Data and analysis resulting from the “Networked Lighting Controls Energy Characterization Study” will be used directly by NEEA, DLC member utility companies, and efficiency organizations to support the development and expansion of NLC incentive programs, enabling them to quantify and validate their energy claims, establish incentive levels, and determine program cost-effectiveness.

NLC manufacturers and others interested in learning more or participating in this project can contact


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 25, 2019

The goal of this one-year project is to accelerate adoption of NLC systems and services by providing more detailed usage and savings information, supporting the growth of utility incentive programs that reduce the upfront costs of NLCs.

What type of dissemination of the findings will be made publicly? I'm sure there are plenty of entities that will be eager to take advantage of any lessons learned!

Liesel Whitney-Schulte's picture
Liesel Whitney-Schulte on Oct 28, 2019

Hi Matt - thanks for the comment.  In this project, we will be looking at more granular data of different building types, but as with the original report, the results will be published on our website. You can view the original report here:

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 28, 2019

Thanks for the resource, Liesel!

Liesel Whitney-Schulte's picture
Thank Liesel for the Post!
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