Lighting Design Lab is Diving into Electrification Waters

Release Date: 
September 2, 2021 - 09:45

Over its 30-year history, Lighting Design Lab (LDL or the Lab) programming has existed to support its Pacific Northwest utility stakeholders and partners in working effectively within the lighting industry. The lab has enjoyed a stellar reputation thanks to its regional trainings and workshops distilling current industry information, technology demonstration projects, tool and resource development, and utility lighting programs support. The Lab’s home, Seattle City Light (SCL or City Light), has initiated a technological focus shift within its Energy Innovation & Resources Business Unit. Two years ago, City Light created the Electrification and Strategic Technologies (EST) division where Lighting Design Lab now organizationally resides. Through much planning and exploration, the EST division has prioritized the following areas of growth for City Light: Transportation Electrification, Grid Modernization, and Building Electrification. The latter topic will be a key concentration going forward for Lighting Design Lab.

There has been a topical push for Grid-interactive efficient buildings (GEBs) where utilities are looking to work closely with their commercial customers on two-way communication with the end goal being demand flexibility and time of use rate development. This will be a paradigm shift as many building systems including space heating, water heating, lighting, cooking, clothes drying, electrical vehicle charging among others will be targeted by utilities to have the communication and load shifting infrastructure to become true Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). Demand response will be the new name of the game as utilities seek to maximize the clean energy sourced be used for various tasks and manage peak load times to be more evenly spread across the systems. A large part of implementing and leveraging emerging technologies in these spaces is the workforce development aspect, and that is where the Lab shines.

Lighting Design Lab has proven to be a successful workforce development hub for LEDs and networked lighting controls; in 2021, LDL has been expanding its deliveries to include energy codes, distributed energy resource and electrification topics as part of the utility’s technological shift. We saw our first opportunity arise as the 2018 Seattle Energy code was to be voted on Q1 2021. Lighting Design Lab partnered with Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) who in turn collaborated with industry subject matter experts to deliver a 2018 Seattle and Washington Energy Code education series. Resident code expert Duane Jonlin worked with LDL to orchestrate four trainings around the now incumbent 2018 WA/SEA Energy Codes: HVAC, Building Envelope, Lighting, and Water Heating. For each of the trainings, Duane dissected the code updates from the existing 2015 code and he then teed up various building industry professionals, including our very own Shaun Darragh for the lighting delivery, on system designs and product that would meet and even exceed code requirements. At the end of each of the deliveries, program managers from City Light were present to poll the audience with questions on how they planned to approach the new code. These webinars were some of the most attended LDL events and were just the beginning of our journey beyond lighting. Much of the attendance to our Energy Code series came from the AIA Seattle Chapter as they promoted our trainings through their channels. Shortly after the series, Lighting Design Lab applied and became an AIA continuing education provider.

Continuing with our friends at SDCI, Lighting Design Lab organized another educational series in June centered around heat pump technology and the 2018 Seattle/Washington HVAC energy code. Following the model from our energy code series, Duane Jonlin joined forces with industry professionals from FSI Engineers and Ecotope whom had a great back and forth dialogue on topics such as heat pump designs, available products, code compliance, refrigerants, among others. There were three deliveries in June: Heat pumps in multifamily spaces, Heat pumps in commercial and institutional buildings, and lastly on heat pump water heating. At the latter end of the presentations, LDL and invited City Light HVAC program managers as well as Energy Solutions – who manage City Light’s HVAC mid-stream program – to discuss the HVAC program incentives and the submission process.

In September we will be having another round of deliveries outside of Lighting topics, so stay tuned! Our colleagues in the Customer Energy Solutions division of City Light have contracted with D&R International and Ecotope to develop a Commercial Heat Pump Water Heating (CHPWH) curriculum they will deliver though our webinar platform starting in September and running through Q1 2022. This curriculum will contain multi-part deliveries on topics such as the “Why and How” of CHPWH, an engineering deep dive, CHPWH in multifamily spaces, and “Design, Operations, and Maintenance” of CHPWHs. In addition to the CHPWH curriculum, we will be inviting back Duane Jonlin and the varied array of industry partners to deliver a code update series finale. Now that the region has had some time with the new working code, we expect a more interactive set of sessions with many practical questions being answered. A look forward will have us continue GEB education, doubling down on topics such as electrified space heating, water heating, cooking, laundry, and even microgrids. Continue engaging with us as we enter this new and exciting phase educating on greener energy technologies!

Please note - throughout the year, Lighting Design Lab has also continued to host webinars on lighting and NLC topics for our growing audience of trade allies, design allies, and end users. Energy efficiency and human centric connected lighting play a key part in building electrification and the Lab will remain information aggregators for the lighting industry and disseminating highlights of what we learn. There is an exciting near future where LDL is working with private and public partners to deliver education and awareness to key “lighting and beyond” electrification topics that are ultimately aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Lab will be looking at these technology innovations more broadly and championing the workforce development efforts to take the Puget Sound’s existing labor infrastructure into the next electrification frontier.