Fifth Light system allows first-ever control of fluorescent lights for greater energy efficiency
New technology with the potential to cut office and commercial lighting energy costs by 30 to 60% is now undergoing its first commercial-scale demonstration at a downtown Toronto office building. The demonstration project was officially launched November 10 by Sustainable Technology Development Canada (SDTC) and Fifth Light Technology, the system developer, together with its consortium partners, Great West Life Realty Advisors, Lindsay Electronics, New Orbit Technologies and Toronto Hydro Energy Systems.
SDTC has confirmed $3 million in funding toward the project, leveraging a further $6.2 million in funding from the Fifth Light consortium. Fifth Light's technology has been tested in a smaller installation in downtown Toronto over the past three years, in conjunction with Great West Life Realty Advisors and Toronto Hydro Energy Services.
"Fifth Light technology became interested in this field several years ago out of a belief that the key to better commercial lighting efficiency and energy savings lay in dimming, intelligent control systems and management protocols, rather than expensive electronic ballasts and light tubes," said Dr Joseph Dableh, president of Fifth Light Technology.
Central to the technology is a unique, patented controller system that, for the first time, allows fluorescent lighting systems using magnetic ballasts to be dimmed. As a result, each lighting fixture in a building can be individually and automatically controlled, in step with lighting needs and the time of day.
Fluorescent lights operated by magnetic ballasts are by far the most common type of office and commercial lighting installed worldwide, with more than one billion fixtures in North America alone. Before the advent of Fifth Light's technology, these lighting units could not be adjusted.
Despite heightened concern over rising energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, most commercial spaces are over-lit, with tenants generally preferring lower light levels than are currently provided. In addition to reduced energy consumption and related costs, the technology's benefits include:
* reduced greenhouse gas emissions through lower energy use;
* an average payback of 2.5 years for installation costs, based on 30 to 60% energy savings (the actual savings depend on the current electricity consumption of the building's lighting system) along with government and utility incentives, and reductions in maintenance and office reconfiguration costs;
* improved light quality, with over-lighting eliminated;
* flexible control that can be placed in the hands of the property manager, tenant organization or individual office workers via computer desktops, telephones or wireless devices;
* reduced landfill because the technology does not require fixture replacement and disposal and
* ability to control light levels seasonally, thereby reducing the mortality of migratory birds at downtown office towers.
The Fifth Light system works with existing or new magnetic ballasts, fixtures and bulbs, more than doubling the life of fluorescent bulbs and ballasts and consequently reducing maintenance and capital costs. It also qualifies for energy efficiency rebates offered by the federal government and some utilities.
Lighting represents at least 30% - and often more than half -- of a building's electrical energy costs. With each Fifth Light dimmer saving an average 350 KWh of electricity per year, installing the technology in 200 office towers would replace the output of one large coal-fired generator or 80% of an average nuclear reactor.
Fifth Light Technology, based in Oakville, Ontario, is the exclusive North American manufacturer and supplier of a new patented device and complete turnkey control and management system that will enhance the performance of fluorescent lighting utilizing magnetic ballasts.