Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 2009 AIA-SWO Chapter Meeting Recap

The February AIA-SWO chapter meeting featured a dynamic presentation by Greg Hansen, LC, IESNA, LEEDTM AP, of Balzhiser & Hubbard Engineers (BHE), about the latest trends in sustainable architectural lighting. Greg and I have worked together on numerous Robertson/Sherwood/Architects projects(1) since he first became BHE’s principal lighting designer, so it was a treat to see him outside the context of our everyday professional connection. In addition to being an outstanding lighting design consultant, Greg is a first-rate educator, having taught lighting design at Lane Community College’s Energy Management Program since 1994.

Greg’s talk was entitled “Trends in Sustainable Lighting – 2009,” but could as easily been dubbed “The Six Ages of Light.” He recalled the history of artificial illumination, and its continued evolution ever since Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan independently developed the incandescent light bulb in the mid-nineteenth century. According to Greg, the six ages of light have unfolded as follows:

The First Age of Light – 1881: The Age of Necessity – Lamps are purely pragmatic; they are used to simply dispel the darkness.

The Second Age of Light – 1940: The Age of Abundance, wherein lighting design consists of determining the desired level of illumination, selecting luminaires that will produce that level, calculating the number required, and laying them out for uniformity of illumination.

The Third Age of Light – 1960’s: The Age of Refinement – Lighting solutions are driven by factors other than quantity of light. New light sources become popular, and new professionals enter the lighting design field. Between 1940 and 1965, the use of all lamp types increased over 16 times.

The Fourth Age of Light – 1974: The Age of Production versus Consumption. The production perspective is about power and its distribution and the impact upon lamp selection; the consumption approach starts with the physiology and psychology of the observer.

The Fifth Age of Light – from the mid-80s to the early ‘90s: Exploiting the potential of electronic ballasts; increasing lighting energy efficiency and government support for development, evaluation, and introduction of electronic ballasts into the U.S. market.

The Sixth Age of Light – Now! Continuing code changes, reducing lighting power densities, increased requirements for automatic lighting controls, and concerns about night light pollution. Sustainable lighting principles are now the rule of the day.

Beyond the history lesson, Greg addressed such topics as the basis for recommended illuminance levels, how energy code and other legislation is impacting lighting applications, and the current trends in lighting technologies (light emitting diodes are not yet the panacea that some would have us believe). He listed concerns now common to all good lighting design, including the quality of the luminous infrastructure, health benefits, productivity, and reducing human impacts and the carbon footprint. Greg also described a new, free digital design tool called “SkyCalc®,” which helps determine optimal natural skylight design. SkyCalc takes into account U.S. climate zones, has built-in lighting calculators for energy cost analysis (accounting for heating, cooling, lighting, energy rates, occupancy and use), and makes skylight sizing quick and easy.

Altogether, Greg provided an illuminating (pardon the pun) overview of the constantly evolving field of lighting design. Thank you Greg!

(1) These projects include the Eugene Public Library (main branch), Springfield Justice Center, and the Corvallis Clinic Surgery Center.

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This month's winner of our chapter meeting raffle prize, which is a $50.00 gift certificate courtesy of Down to Earth Home Garden & Gifts store, is Rick Satre, principal of Satre Associates. Remember, your first raffle ticket is free with your paid dinner and additional tickets are only $2 each. However, you can’t win if you don’t attend, so join us at our next meeting!

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The March AIA-SWO chapter meeting will feature a presentation on the subject of Sustainable Urban Regions by Robert Young, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Planning, Public Policy & Management (PPPM) at the University of Oregon. Professor Young’s research and teaching interests focus on environmental and economic policy and planning, specifically the role that governance networks can have in advancing the development of more sustainable urban regions. He will touch upon environmental policy and planning history, and discuss innovations in urban environmental theory and implementation from the 19th century to the present day. Professor Young has served as Director of Planning of the City of Philadelphia Recycling Office, and as head of the New Jersey Office of Sustainable Development. Our meeting will take place on March 18th at The Actors Cabaret in downtown Eugene; the social hour begins at 5:30.

The March AIA-SWO program sponsors will be BANG Office Interiors and DIRTT Environmental Solutions (“Doing It Right This Time”). BANG is committed to helping its customers build beautiful, dynamic, and most of all, green working environments. BANG has unmatched experience in helping clients and designers realize modular, reusable, and recyclable interiors. DIRTT manufactures movable wall systems that are pre-engineered, pre-manufactured, and horizontally support new and legacy furniture and storage. They virtually eliminate construction waste and any future renovation waste – no demolition, dumping, procuring, or rebuilding. The results are dramatic and meaningful for the environment and the bottom line. Thanks to BANG and DIRTT for being the AIA-SWO sponsors for March!

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