As people around the US prepare to recognize Earth Day on April 22, Color Kinetics Inc (NASDAQ: CLRK) is emphasizing the role that new lighting technology will play in mitigating energy strain, projecting that at least 75% of commercial lighting in the US will be produced by energy-efficient LED sources by 2030*.
LEDs already deliver four times the efficiency of traditional incandescent and halogen light sources, while rapidly gaining ground on fluorescent and offering numerous benefits above and beyond all three.
The role of lighting as a chief energy drain and contributor to global warming has garnered international attention in recent weeks, including news of industry initiatives, incentives and even proposed legislation to ban inefficient incandescent sources. The Earth Day Network, official organizers of the annual event, proclaimed 2007 "the beginning of the end of the inefficient incandescent."
Though public attention has centered on the impact of replacing incandescent sources with compact fluorescent (CFL) in residential lighting, with today's prediction Color Kinetics is emphasizing the need to tackle inefficiencies in commercial lighting—which is accountable for much higher energy consumption overall than lighting in homes.
"With millions of lights burning nearly 24x7 in office buildings, hospitals, shopping malls, hotels, and public places, it's no wonder that commercial buildings account for 51% of total energy consumption for lighting in the US vs. 27% for residential," says Bill Sims, president and CEO, Color Kinetics. "This presents us with an enormous opportunity to leverage smart technologies, like LED lighting, to put a real dent in energy inefficiencies and in turn reduce the amount of emissions being pumped into our atmosphere."
Color Kinetics sees LED technology as the future of energy-efficient lighting, first for commercial spaces and eventually for residential applications as well. Performance trends suggest that LEDs have the ability to ultimately leapfrog other efficient light sources, (such as fluorescent) given their longer source life, durability, non-toxic materials, lack of radiated heat and UV, higher quality of light output, and flexibility to accommodate wide-ranging fixtures and form factors. Moreover, as inherently digital devices, LEDs produce light that can be intelligently controlled to dynamically customize environments from restaurants and casinos to retail shops, homes, and even automobiles.
Color Kinetics' intelligent LED lighting technology is already at work in over 15,000 installations worldwide, spanning every state in America and six of seven continents. The company's lighting systems have successfully displaced conventional sources in a number of applications where LEDs already win in terms of cost efficiency and visual impact. For example:
• LAX Gateway at Los Angeles International Airport replaced metal halide with an LED system, anticipating 75% less energy consumption. • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas replaced metal halide with an LED system, cutting annual energy costs from $18,000 to $1,900. • The British Airways London Eye replaced fluorescent with an LED system, eliminating former maintenance costs and requirements while gaining the ability to produce color light and programmable effects. • Bostonian shoe stores in the US replaced fluorescent with an LED system, mitigating the need for frequent and costly lamp replacement, while also gaining the ability to easily adjust from "warm" to "cool" white light in its display shelves. • Boathouse Row in Philadelphia replaced incandescent with an LED system, saving approximately $57,000 in annual operating costs due to reduced maintenance and energy consumption.
"The notion that LEDs are still relegated to flash lights, tail lights, and electronic gadgets is a misconception. We can point to major landmarks, towers, bridges—even the world's largest spherical building—that are illuminated by our LED systems today," notes Sims. "Color Kinetics was established for the very purpose of supplanting less efficient light sources with a new form of intelligent lighting based on LEDs. We're not simply responding to a timely trend. We've spent ten years solely focused on making LED sources viable as the right long-term solution."
Color Kinetics participates in several government and industry initiatives related to energy conservation. As a member of the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, the company is helping to develop a technology roadmap for the US Department of Energy (DoE), as well as Energy Star criteria for LED lighting. In 2006 the company was awarded a $1.7 million grant by the DoE to develop LED-based replacement lamps for 60-watt incandescent light sources that, with a four-fold increase in efficacy to 80-lumens per watt, would meet or exceed the efficacy of nearly all conventional light sources.
Reflecting the company's leadership role, Color Kinetics' VP of innovation Kevin Dowling will make his 6th appearance as a featured presenter at the DoE's Solid-State Lighting Workshop in California on April 23. At this meeting of technical, legislative, and academic minds, energy efficiency and speeding the pervasive use of LEDs for illumination will be a major topic of discussion.
"We applaud any initiative, whether public or private sector, that brings attention to the need for energy-efficient lighting. Though adoption may be aided by government regulations, business consortiums, financial incentives, grass roots movements or other influencers, we believe that LEDs will ultimately win in the market based on their merits as a superior technology, as has been the case with so many disruptive technological innovations in the past," Sims concludes. *Based on past penetration rates of other lighting technologies: Fluorescent lighting share of the US commercial lighting market, Electronic ballasts share of US lighting ballasts."