Purchasing Energy-Efficient Exterior Lighting

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Equipping exterior luminaires with advanced controls can save even more energy and operating costs than only improving luminaire efficiency.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for exterior lighting used for general illumination, a product category covered by FEMP efficiency requirements. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified products or FEMP-designated products in all product categories covered by these programs and in any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

FEMP’s acquisition guidance and efficiency requirements apply to fuel pump canopy luminaires, parking garage luminaires, outdoor pole/arm-mounted area and roadway luminaires, outdoor pole/arm-mounted decorative luminaires, outdoor wall-mounted light fixtures or luminaires, and bollards. All other luminaires are excluded.

This acquisition guidance was updated in July 2017.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

Federal purchases must meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements in Table 1. These requirements are given in luminaire efficacy rating (LER), which is the ratio of lamp lumen output (lumens) to measured electrical power input (watts), and stated in lumens per watt (lm/W). A higher number indicates a more efficient product (i.e., more light output per unit of power input).

Table 1. Efficiency Requirements for Exterior Lighting
Category LER
Fuel pump canopy luminaires ≥ 93
Parking garage luminaires ≥ 106
Outdoor pole/arm-mounted area and roadway luminaires ≥ 106
Outdoor pole/arm-mounted decorative luminaires ≥ 94
Outdoor wall-mounted luminaires ≥ 102
Bollards ≥ 45

Product performance is determined in accordance with industry-recognized test standards including, but not limited to, the following:

  • IES LM-50-13: Approved Method for Photometric Measurement of Roadway and Street Lighting Installations
  • IES LM-79-08: Approved Method for Electrical and Photometric Measurements of Solid-State Lighting Products
  • IES LM-80-08: Approved Method for Measuring Lumen Maintenance of LED Light Sources.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $724 by Buying a FEMP-Designated Product

FEMP calculated that the required model saves money if priced no more than $724 above the less-efficient model. The best available model saves up to $977. Table 2 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective.

Table 2. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Roadway Exterior Models
Performance Best Available Required Model Less Efficient
LER 136 106 65
Annual Energy Use 794 1,019 1,662
Annual Energy Cost $72 $93 $151
Lifetime Energy Cost $894 $1,147 $1,871
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $977 $724 --


View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 2

Performance Column

Input Power: Based on the wattage used by the luminaire with an output of 30,000 lumens which is typical for this product category (shown in lm/W).

Annual Energy Use: Calculated according to the IES LM-50-13 test procedure assuming 3,600 operating hours per year (shown in kWh).

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.09/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities. (Source: U.S. Department of Energy. 2016. Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions in 2015. In Comprehensive Annual Energy Data and Sustainability Performance).

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost and assumed product life of 15 years. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are based on federal guidelines (NISTIR 85-3273-31) and are from the Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 and NBS Special Publication 709, Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life Cycle Cost Analysis. 2016.

Lifetime Cost Savings: The difference between the lifetime energy cost of the less efficient model and the lifetime energy cost of the required model or best available model.

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the most efficient model in the database collected from manufacturers as of February 2017.

Required Model Column

Calculated based on new FEMP-designated efficiency requirements. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed FEMP-designated efficiency requirements.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on the previous FEMP requirement for this product type.

Determine When FEMP-Designated Products Are Cost-Effective

An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option. FEMP considers up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume FEMP-designated products are life cycle cost-effective. In high-use applications or when energy rates are above the federal average, purchasers may save more if they specify products that exceed federal efficiency requirements (e.g., the best available model).

Claim an Exception to Federal Purchasing Requirements

Products meeting FEMP-designated efficiency requirements may not be life cycle cost-effective in certain low-use applications or in locations with very low rates for electricity or natural gas. However, for most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to federal purchasing requirements through a written finding that no FEMP-designated product is available to meet functional requirements or that no such product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Get additional information about federal product purchasing requirements.

Incorporate Federal Acquisition Regulation Language in Contracts

These mandatory requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide and project specifications; renovation, repair, energy service, and operation and maintenance contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in federal government facilities. To comply with FAR requirements, FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency and energy performance requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations.

Find Federal Supply Sources

The federal supply sources for energy-efficient products are the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells products through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage!. DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through FedMall (formerly DOD EMALL). Products sold through DLA are codified with 13-digit National Stock Numbers and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC). The ENAC identifies items that have positive environmental characteristics and meet standards set by an approved third party, such as FEMP.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for e‑commerce. It contains more than 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each with a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Manufacturers and vendors are beginning to adopt the UNSPSC classification convention, and electronic procurement systems are beginning to include UNSPSC tracking in their software packages. UNSPSCs can help the federal acquisition community identify product categories covered by sustainable acquisition requirements, track purchases of products within those categories, and report on progress toward meeting sustainable acquisition goals. FEMP has developed a table of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated covered product categories and related UNSPSC codes.

Exterior Luminaire Schedules and Product Codes

GSA offers exterior luminaires through Schedule 56 (Buildings and Building Materials/Industrial Services and Supplies).

The UNSPSC for garage or canopy lighting is 39111538 and for roadway or highway lighting is 39111603.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Typical light sources vary across the six categories of FEMP-designated exterior lighting product categories and often include high-intensity discharge sources (which include high-pressure sodium and metal halide). Other technologies include fluorescent, compact fluorescent lamps, induction, and, more recently, light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Each of these lighting technologies has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which may make it more or less attractive depending on the application.

Table 3. Common Exterior Lighting Technologies
Features Solid-State Lighting (i.e., LED) High Intensity Discharge Fluorescent Induction
High Pressure Sodium Metal Halide Linear/U-Lamp Compact
LER Best Better Better Better Good Better
Source/System Efficacy Best Best Better Best Good Best
System/Lamp Life Best Better Good Better Good Best
White Light Source Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Light Level Options Inherently Dimmable Bi-Level Only Bi-Level only Can Be Dimmed Can Be Dimmed Bi-Level Via Multiple Lamps
Controllability Yes Bi-Level Bi-Level Yes Yes Bi-Level
Initial Cost High Low Low Low Low Medium
Notes LEDs are point light sources that can provide better uniformity compared to single lamps. Lamp re-strike takes on to four minutes. Lamp re-strike takes one to 15 minutes. Fluorescent lamps require closer spacing for the same illumination levels compared to other sources. Temperature sensitive. Induction lamps are large sources, which makes effective use of the lamp's light more difficult due to limitations of reflector geometry and optics.

The key to making an informed and cost-effective choice for each exterior lighting application is gathering the most accurate and relatable data on the performance, cost, and reliability of the products. If LED technology is identified as a viable option, pay attention to the performance criteria for comparing LED lighting with other technologies and products. Because LED technology is still developing, make sure you've gathered the information you need to make good decisions.

Products with verified performance are commonly listed when they meet specific criteria. A good resource is the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) LED Lighting Facts program. LED Lighting Facts showcases LED products for general illumination from manufacturers who commit to testing products and reporting performance results according to industry standards. The program also provides information essential to evaluating products and identifying the best options. The site offers a search mechanism that allows users to sort on a variety of performance criteria. The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) is another good example of a program that lists products in certain luminaire categories that have verified performance. The DLC also has a search capability and has additional performance requirements to ensure high-quality products. However, DLC only covers LEDs.

Some utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-qualified products. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local utility offers these incentives.

Lighting Controls

Additional energy can be saved through the use of automatic lighting controls. The lights in unoccupied areas should be turned off, and controls can perform this function more reliably than occupants. There are many control options, including wireless, to choose from. Get more information about lighting controls from DOE's Energy Saver website.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

LED exterior luminaires can save even more energy and operating costs, as well as extend fixture lifetime, through the use of networked controls that allow lighting to adapt to environmental conditions and adjust lighting levels based on real-time activity. Individual luminaires can be connected as part of a larger network along with advanced control system components, such as motion detectors and video cameras. (Source: Lynch, Stan. 2015. Making Outdoor Lighting Control Smarter, More Efficient. Electronic Products. Last accessed March 28, 2017.) In addition, Many LED manufacturers offer luminaires that can help reduce light pollution. (Source: Alexander, David J. Check It Out: An Energy Efficient Exterior Checklist. PG&E. Last accessed March 28. 2017.)

Finding More Information

The following resources provide additional information surrounding the purchase of efficient products:

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.