If you’re in the lighting industry – manufacturer, utility, energy-efficiency consultant, reseller, architect, distributor and more — you know all about the DesignLights Consortium (DLC). If you aren’t yet familiar with their work, it’s worth getting to know more about them. The DLC plays a critical role in insuring that high-quality lighting products make it into customer installations in the U.S. Here are a few key things to know about their charter, members and listings:

  • The DLC picks up where Energy Star leaves off — addressing product categories not covered by Energy Star (e.g., high bay fixtures and other commercial and industrial fixture types), working to maintain performance and quality standards in the world of solid state lighting;
  • The members are utilities from across the U.S. and related groups whose focus is to find efficiency savings wherever possible.
  • The DLC Qualified Products List (QPL) is a listing of products that meet the organization’s quality/efficiency requirements, and are eligible for rebates/incentives from participating utilities. (Worth noting, non-DLC utilities in an increasing number of countries also refer to the QPL.) The QPL now holds more than 50,000 products, a testimony to the work the DLC does and to their engagement with the lighting industry.

At the recent 2014 DesignLights Consortium Stakeholders’ Meeting in San Diego, which the DL team attended, key participants in the broad lighting ecosystem gathered to take stock of industry trends and assess their impact on utility programs. With this expansive landscape as the backdrop, here were a few of the most interesting themes:

  • Rate of change — More than one lighting professional pointed out that the rate of change in a single year of the SSL market exceeds the amount of innovation previously seen in a decade-long period, which is very true. This, of course, presents challenges for all stakeholders, especially those designing programs that can take time for approval.
  • Luminaire reliability — One of the many excellent conversations revolved around the question of SSL longevity. Thanks to the hard work of those who established the LM-80, LM-79, and TM-21 standards, the marketplace has gained confidence in LED chip lifetime. With this task complete, the industry is now discussing how to standardize whole-luminaire measures of reliability.
  • Intelligence — One of the most critical conversations we heard was around what type of intelligence should be included in lighting systems going forward. This is a major shift from a few years ago – when the question was, ‘Why does intelligence matter?’ As long-term advocates for the role of intelligence in SSL lighting, and with increasing amounts of data to support the value of fully integrated intelligence, we are delighted to see the wholesale movement of the industry in this direction. (For reference, see the PG&E’s Emerging Technologies study of advanced lighting controls here.)

We believe that lighting systems are key parts of every building’s central nervous system, and critical elements of the broader built environment. The work that the DLC does to ensure the quality of the lighting ecosystem is crucial, and we continue to be grateful for the excellent work that they, their utility members, and the industry are doing to ensure customer success with SSL products in the commercial and industrial lighting sectors.