The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for general service fluorescent lamps (GSFLs), 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 GSFLs with a color rendering index (CRI) of 80 or greater. Federal agencies must purchase GSFLs that meet or exceed the lamp efficacy (LE) shown in Table 1 below. GSFLs with CRIs less than 80 are excluded.

This acquisition guidance was updated in June 2021.

Did you know?

When buying efficient GSFLs, it is important to match the lumen output of the new lamps with those of the existing ones. Otherwise, lower light levels could cause occupant dissatisfaction and complaints.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

Federal purchases must meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements in Table 1. These requirements are given in Lamp Efficacy (LE), 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 General Service Fluorescent Lamps
Lamp Type (typical products, which Vary by Manufacturer) LE
4 Foot Medium Bi-pin with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., F32T8, F28T8, F25T8, etc.) ≥ 98.0 lm/W
4 Foot Medium Bi-pin with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., F32T8, F28T8, F25T8, etc.) ≥ 95.1 lm/W
2 Foot U-Shaped with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., FB32T8, FBO32T8, FBO32/U, F32T8/U, etc.) ≥ 90.0 lm/W
2 Foot U-Shaped with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., FB32T8, FBO32T8, FBO32/U, F32T8/U, etc.) ≥ 85.9 lm/W
8 Foot Slimline with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., F96T8, F96T12, etc.) ≥ 101.0 lm/W
8 Foot Slimline with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., F96T8, F96T12, etc.) ≥ 93.0 lm/W
8 Foot High Output with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., F96T8/HO, F96T12/HO, etc.) ≥ 92.0 lm/W
8 Foot High Output with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., F96T8/HO, F96T12/HO, etc.) ≥ 88.0 lm/W
4 Foot Miniature Bi-pin with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., F28T5, FP28T5, FP28, etc.) ≥ 99.0 lm/W
4 Foot Miniature Bi-pin with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., F28T5, FP28T5, FP28, etc.) ≥ 89.3 lm/W
4 Foot Miniature Bi-pin High Output with CCTs ≤ 4,500 K (e.g., F54T5/HO, F49T5/HO, etc.) ≥ 91.0 lm/W
4 Foot Miniature Bi-pin High Output with CCTs > 4,500 K (e.g., F54T5/HO, F49T5/HO, etc.) ≥ 83.0 lm/W

Product performance must be determined in accordance with the "Uniform Test Method for Measuring Average Lamp Efficacy (LE), Color Rendering Index (CRI), and Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) of Electric Lamps" found in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix R).

Federal buyers can find product information (e.g., model numbers and lamp efficacy) for general service fluorescent lamps in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Compliance Certification Database, which contains certification reports and compliance statements submitted by manufacturers for covered products and equipment subject to federal conservation standards. This database houses only certification records of current basic models that have been submitted within the past year and is updated approximately every two weeks.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $25 or More by Buying a FEMP-Designated Product

FEMP has calculated that the two required GSFL models below save money if each lamp is priced no more than $25 (in 2021 dollars) above the less efficient model. The best available model saves $38 per lamp. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective.

4-Foot Medium Bi-pin Fluorescent Lamps

A 4-foot medium bi-pin lamp is cost-effective at the required efficiency level if priced no more than $25 above a less efficient model. Using the best available model saves $38 over 12.1 years—with a roughly similar lumen output. Table 2 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models.

Table 2. Lifetime Savings For Efficient 4-Foot Medium Bi-Pin Fluorescent Lamps in a 2-Lamp Fixture
Performance Best Available Required Model Less Efficient
Input Power 52 56 64
Annual Energy Use (kWh) 186 200 229
Annual Energy Cost $16 $18 $20
Lifetime Energy Cost $163 $176 $201
Lifetime Cost Savings (per lamp) $38 $25 ======

View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 2

Performance Column

Input Power: Based on the wattage used by two lamps in a ballast (shown in watts).

Annual Energy Use: Assumes two lamps driven by a single ballast (BF = 0.88), operated 4,065 hours/year with an average start of 3 hours (shown in kilowatt-hours).

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.088/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities throughout the United States. Learn more about Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions.

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost and assumed product life of 12.1 years or about 49,000 hours. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis – 2021: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 (NISTIR 85-3273-36).

Lifetime Cost Savings: The difference between the lifetime energy cost of the less efficient model and the lifetime energy cost of the required model and the best available model is shown in 2021 dollars. The required model has a lamp efficacy value of 98 lm/W and the best available model has a lamp efficacy value of 109.8 lm/W.

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the June 2021 update to DOE’s Compliance Certification Database values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. More efficient models may be introduced to the market after FEMP's acquisition guidance is posted. When replacing a conventional fluorescent lamp with an energy efficient alternative, the lumen output of the two products should also be considered.

Required Model Column

Calculated based on FEMP-designated efficiency requirements; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed FEMP-designated efficiency requirements.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on the minimum federal standard for this product type.

2-Foot U-Shaped Fluorescent Lamps

A 2-foot U-shaped lamp is cost-effective at the required efficiency level if priced no more than $3 (in 2021 dollars) above a less efficient model. The best available model saves even more money—$22 over 12.1 years. Table 3 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models.

Table 3. Lifetime Savings for Efficient 2-Foot U-Shaped Fluorescent Lamps
Performance Best Available Required Model Less Efficient
Input Power 50 62 64
Annual Energy Use (kWh) 179 222 229
Annual Energy Cost $16 $19 $20
Lifetime Energy Cost $157 $194 $201
Lifetime Cost Savings (per lamp) $22 $3 ======

 

View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 3

Performance Column

Input Power: Based on the wattage used by two lamps in a ballast, shown in watts.

Annual Energy Use: Assumes two lamps driven by a single ballast (BF = 0.88), operated 4065 hours/year with an average start of 3 hours (shown in kilowatt-hours).

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.088/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities throughout the United States. Learn more about Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions.

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost and assumed product life of 12.1 years or about 49,000 hours. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis – 2021: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 (NISTIR 85-3273-36).

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 (shown in 2021 dollars).

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the June 2021 update to DOE’s Compliance Certification Database; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. More efficient models may be introduced to the market after FEMP's acquisition guidance is posted.

Required Model Column

Calculated based on FEMP-designated efficiency requirements; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed FEMP-designated efficiency requirements.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on the minimum federal standard 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 on 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 (O&M) 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.

Requirements to purchase energy-efficient products can sometimes be perceived as in conflict with other acquisition requirements, including Buy American, Small Business, or other set-asides. These requirements are not mutually exclusive. If you run into problems trying to meet multiple procurement requirements, please reach out to FEMP for assistance.

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.

General Service Fluorescent Lamp Schedules and Product Codes

GSA offers fluorescent lamps through the Multiple Award Schedule.

DLA offers GSFL models with the ENAC "GE" at the end of the NSN.

The UNSPSC for GSFLs is 39101605.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

GSFLs are part of luminaires that also include ballasts and fixtures. Fluorescent luminaires are the most commonly used lighting systems in commercial office buildings, including those in the federal sector. Most fluorescent luminaires contain multiple GSFLs, with two to four lamps being the most common in commercial offices. Of the components in fluorescent luminaires, the lamps need to be replaced the most frequently. This contributes to federal agencies purchasing more than 8 million GSFLs per year. Learn more by reading Achieved and Potential Energy Savings through Energy Efficient Procurement.

There are many opportunities for federal agencies to purchase and install efficient GSFLs. These include lamp replacement, luminaire retrofit, and lighting system design. Many electric utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the installation of energy-efficient lighting products or systems. Check with your local electric utility for more information and availability.

Lamp Replacement

Fluorescent lamps burn out regularly and are replaced by maintenance staff. Sometimes all the lamps in an area are replaced as part of a lumen maintenance program. Maintenance staff at federal facilities purchases cases of GSFLs per year so they have products on hand when lamp replacements are necessary or scheduled.

Several lighting manufacturers are producing reduced-wattage GSFLs that provide the same lumen output of older, less efficient products. The most common of these reduced-wattage products are for F32T8 and FB32T8 lamps. Replacing these standard lamps with efficient models is a simple means for federal agencies to lower energy consumption through a routine maintenance operation.

Note that reduced-wattage fluorescent lamps are typically not compatible with dimming ballasts. Check the manufacturer's literature for product compatibility before purchasing and installing. In addition, reduced-wattage GSFL performance will vary based on the existing ballasts. Different lamps may need to be tested prior to finding models that are compatible.

When buying efficient GSFLs, it is important to match the lumen output of the new lamps with those of the existing ones. A failure to do so can result in lower light levels and possible occupant dissatisfaction and complaints. Federal maintenance and procurement personnel who purchase replacement lamps meeting the efficiency requirements shown in Table 1 can be confident they will save energy while maintaining light levels.

Lamp/Ballast Replacements

Like lamps, ballasts need to be replaced periodically; however, they usually last two to three times longer (see FEMP's product acquisition guidance for fluorescent ballasts). Lamps are commonly replaced when ballasts are replaced, which provides an opportunity to adjust lumen output (e.g., in spaces where the use has changed) and save energy. This is achieved by "tuning" the ballast factor (BF) in combination with high-performance lamps, as shown in Table 4.

Table 4. Tuning a Three-Lamp/Ballast Replacement
  BF Lumens Watts
Standard-Performance F32T8 Lamps 0.88 BF 7,524 lm 84 W
High-Performance F32T8 Replacements 0.81 BF 7,530 lm 78 W
Lifetime Power Savings   6 W

Three high-performance F32T8 lamps driven by low-BF ballasts can match or exceed the lumen output of three standard-performance F32T8 lamps with mid-BF ballasts while using less energy.

In spaces that are over-lit, it may be possible to delamp luminaires while upgrading ballasts and lamps. By reducing lumen output to more appropriate levels while installing high-performance lamps and high-BF ballasts, it may be possible to go from three-lamp luminaires to two-lamp luminaires.

Luminaire Retrofits

Some fluorescent luminaires can be retrofitted with new lamps, ballasts, and reflectors to improve their overall performance and reduce energy use. This is an excellent opportunity for facility engineers or electrical contractors to improve light quality in addition to system efficiency. Many manufacturers offer kits that include all the parts (i.e., brackets, lamp holders, screws, etc.) necessary to upgrade from older, inefficient products (e.g., T12 lamps, magnetic ballasts, and older T8 lamps) to new, advanced technologies (e.g., high-performance T8 and T5 lamps, electronic ballasts, and LEDs).

There are different retrofit options. A common approach is the one-for-one replacement of lamps and ballasts with energy-saving models. Here, lumen output is usually maintained while energy input is reduced. Some of the kits for these retrofits include reflectors that get more light out of the fixtures and onto work surfaces, thus improving overall system performance.

Another option is to retrofit luminaires to use fewer lamps. Delamping typically occurs when an area is over-lit by luminaires with inefficient lamps or ballasts. In these situations, the luminaires are retrofitted to provide fewer overall lumens with high-output F32T8 lamps and more efficient ballasts. This can result in fewer lamps per luminaire (e.g., two lamps instead of three) providing the correct amount of light. This saves on both operating and GSFL replacement costs.

Luminaire retrofits are more complicated than lamp replacements and must be carefully designed by lighting professionals and installed by trained electricians. However, the energy and cost savings are much greater with luminaire retrofits.

Lighting Controls

Additional energy can be saved through the use of automatic lighting controls. The lights in unoccupied areas should be turned off; 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.

Lighting System Design

The lighting system design stage offers the best opportunity for selecting energy-efficient GSFLs. Here the architects, electrical engineers, or lighting designers can optimize performance by specifying lamps, ballasts, and fixtures (see FEMP's product acquisition guidance for fluorescent luminaires) that are compatible and also match the lighting needs of the spaces in which they are installed.

High-performance F32T8 lamps can be used and it may be possible to provide the same amount of light with fewer fixtures. This could result in lower installation cost. This is also a good time to select or specify lighting controls. Because lighting systems are typically designed as part of new construction projects or major renovations, it is important that federal agencies are aware of these opportunities and take advantage of them.

Light Emitting Diodes

While not covered by this product category overview, LED technology is rapidly advancing and is starting to replace fluorescent lamps in some lighting applications.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

While it is typical for maintenance personnel to replace lamps individually when they burn out, it is more cost-effective to relamp an entire area at the same time. The performance of GSFLs is tested and manufacturers publish the results, which include lumen depreciation over time. In a lumen maintenance program, facility engineers or maintenance personnel use this data to determine the optimum time to replace lamps and send crews into areas at night or on weekends to quickly replace GSFLs. The fixtures and lenses should be cleaned or dusted at the same time to maintain the reflectivity of the surfaces. Although this will not eliminate the need for spot replacements, it will greatly reduce them.

Fluorescent lamps contain small amounts of mercury, which is considered hazardous waste. When disposing of used GSFLs, agency personnel must do so in accordance with federal and local laws.

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