There was a time when you pressed a switch to light up a room and pressed it again to switch the light off. Not anymore. Lighting is no longer a process of merely illuminating a space. It has evolved into an intelligent system that allows you to control br ightness, intensity and other parameters, both manually and automatically.
Modern lighting systems include sophisticated devices that continuously monitor light in a room, adjusting its intensity and brightness according to the amount of ambient light and sunlight entering the room. The lights are switched on or off by motion sensors that detect the presence of people in a room, thus conserving energy.
Today’s buildings have centralised, computer-based management systems that control all electrical and mechanical systems, including lighting systems. Some prominent lighting technologies employed by architects and designers include halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), high intensity discharge (HID), light emitting diode (LED) and organic light emitting diode (OLED), the general practice being to use a combination of these technologies.
With construction projects moving apace in the Middle East, lighting is likely to claim a major chunk of energy costs if new standards for energy efficient lighting are not formulated and cost-effective, green alternatives are not adopted soon. According to Italy-based independent research institute CSIL, the GCC market for lighting fixtures made up more than half the $1.9 billion market for the entire MENA region in 2010.
The CSIL report indicates that consumption of lighting fixtures in the UAE and Saudi Arabia were $336 million and $363 million respectively in 2010. The UAE manufactures just a little over 10% of its lighting fixtures while Saudi Arabia produces 40% of what it consumes.
“There is an increasing trend towards using new technology in lighting in order to save energy. New buildings are increasingly utilising such technology and even existing ones are replacing their traditional lighting with greener alternatives to reduce energy bills,” says Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, pointing out that lighting represents 15% of Dubai‘s total energy consumption of almost 15,000MW.
Given the growing global preference for more efficient lighting solutions, better design and environmentally friendlier technology, the focus at the recently concluded Light Middle East exhibition held in Dubai from October 1 to 3 was quite naturally on energy-efficient lighting systems and the role of emerging technology in fashioning sustainable solutions.
“This year saw increased demand for the latest in sustainable lighting systems and energy-efficient illumination, with LED solutions and sustainability being the buzz words at the show, which featured 220 exhibitors. Their on-going technological developments continue to change the very shape of the lighting industry,” observed Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organiser of the exhibition.
LEDs the undisputed future light source
The CSIL study reveals that the consumption of LED lighting fixtures in the Middle East is set to reach $257 million by 2015, making up 15% of the total lighting consumption. This represents a more than a 300% increase from the 2010 level, indicating the vast potential that exists in the region for such new innovative lighting solutions.
Globally, incandescent and CFL lamps are being upgraded or replaced with LED lamps, which have a higher energy efficiency, are more durable, have a longer lifespan, and do not contain hazardous materials such as mercury.
In fact, the European Union extended its ban on standard 100W and 60W bulbs for domestic use in September to include 40W bulbs, while the governments of several other countries, including the US, UK, China, India, Brazil and Malaysia, are implementing new energy standards to enable a scheduled phase-out of incandescent bulbs within the next few years.
All leading manufacturers of lamps worldwide are now pushing for LED technology, a trend clearly evident in the 7th edition of LightME this year. The US-based conglomerate General Electric (GE) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the invention of the visible-spectrum LED by GE scientist Dr Nick Holonyak Jr by showcasing its latest range of energy-efficient lighting solutions for indoor and outdoor applications, including retail & hospitality and roadway & architectural projects.