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Categories promote energy equity, sustainability, and germicidal ultraviolet lighting in commercial spaces

In January 2023, the Integrated Lighting Campaign (ILC) launched its annual recognition program with new recognition categories that highlight the potential of novel lighting technologies to contribute to energy equity, sustainability, and indoor air quality in commercial and public buildings.

There are 10 recognition categories in total.

The deadline to submit projects for recognition is April 7, 2023.

The Department of Energy introduced the Integrated Lighting Campaign to encourage building owners, operators, and facility managers to adopt novel sensors and controls that allow lighting to interact with other building systems to save energy, lower costs, and create comfortable spaces for occupants. Every year the ILC revisits the recognition categories to capture emerging industry priorities and new technology trends.

Lighting as a beacon of energy equity

“Lighting influences how we see and experience the world around us and can greatly impact our mood and cognitive function. This can have far-reaching consequences in office environments, schools, and healthcare settings,” mentioned Axel Pearson, project manager at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and campaign lead for the ILC.

"Unfortunately, resource constraints often prevent small commercial building owners, tenants, and occupants in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities from enjoying the benefits of new lighting technologies," said Pearson. "That's why we've added a few new categories to recognize new construction or retrofit projects using energy-efficient lighting technologies to improve the efficiency of buildings and quality of life in these communities."

The new Energy Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Advanced Lighting category will recognize projects that have integrated equity into their siting, installation, contracting, or procurement process. A good example is the Chicago Smart Lighting Program, one of last year's recognized participants, which exceeded their RFP requirements of subcontracting women and minority-owned businesses and installed the first new LED streetlights in the South and West Side Neighborhoods in Chicago.

Another new category, Advanced Lighting Solution for Small Projects or Buildings, has been added to recognize lighting retrofits or installations in buildings smaller than 50,000 square feet.

Improved sustainability, better air quality

Other new categories this year reflect emerging industry priorities. The Sustainability in Lighting category was added to recognize projects that have successfully minimized their environmental footprint and impacts across the project lifecycle.

“Achieving maximum sustainability and circularity in the built environment will require a special care to how lighting technologies are manufactured, installed, operated, and disposed at the end of their useful life,” said Kate Hickcox, energy and environment research scientist at PNNL and advisor to the campaign, “through recognition we want to highlight models of excellence in sustainability.”

In addition to sustainability, lighting has an important role to play in indoor air quality. Through the Germicidal Ultraviolet (GUV) Systems category, the campaign will recognize lighting projects that have successfully deployed GUV systems in buildings to reduce the spread of airborne pathogens and improve indoor air quality.

“We need improved indoor air quality in buildings to give people better air to breathe so they can perform at their best, be healthy, and reduce disease transmission,” said Gabe Arnold, senior lighting research engineer at PNNL, “studies show that supplementing ventilation with GUV is a much more effective and energy efficient approach than ventilation alone.”

Applying for recognition is easy, but the impact is big

The campaign develops case studies and other materials to share the best practices, strategies, and implementation models of these exemplary projects to inspire others to do the same. The ILC also provides participants with the resources and expert guidance needed to choose, install, integrate, and operate their lighting systems.

“By submitting a project for recognition you’re sharing knowledge, championing innovation, and contributing to the success of future lighting projects,” said Pearson.

Applying for recognition is easy. Complete the short application form by April 7th and provide your contact information, building information, communication preferences, and a short description of reported benefits and outcomes of the lighting project. Campaign supporters can also submit as Exemplary Supporter or Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JDEI) Champion.

Interested participants can watch two recorded informational webinars describing the recognition program, along with examples from previous years. Click the links below to watch.

Questions? Email Axel Pearson at