The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for suspended fluorescent luminaires; 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 suspended 4-foot-long luminaires with linear fluorescent lamps that are used in commercial and institutional buildings. Recessed, surface-mounted, and industrial luminaires are covered by separate FEMP-designated efficiency requirements and are excluded from this product category. Residential pendant-mounted fixtures are covered by the ENERGY STAR program and are excluded from this product category.

This acquisition guidance was updated in June 2021.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

Federal purchases must meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements in Table 1. These requirements are stated in luminaire efficacy rating (LER). A higher value indicates a more efficient product.

Table 1. Efficiency Requirements for Suspended Fluorescent Luminaires
Optical Element Distribution Pattern LER
T8 T5HO T5
Lensed Direct ≥ 85 Lm/W ≥ 71 Lm/W ≥ 66 Lm/W
Semi-Direct ≥ 90 Lm/W ≥ 68 Lm/W  
General Diffuse ======== ========  
Semi-Indirect ≥ 93 Lm/W ≥ 74 Lm/W ≥ 75 Lm/W
Indirect ≥ 92 Lm/W ≥ 71 Lm/W ≥ 74 Lm/W
Louvered Direct ≥ 68 Lm/W ≥ 68 Lm/W ≥ 56 Lm/W
Semi-Direct ≥ 65 Lm/W ≥ 66 Lm/W ≥ 52 Lm/W
General Diffuse ≥ 76 Lm/W ≥ 59 Lm/W ≥ 55 Lm/W
Semi-Indirect ≥ 87 Lm/W ≥ 70 Lm/W ≥ 71 Lm/W
Indirect ≥ 84 Lm/W ≥ 68 Lm/W ≥ 70 Lm/W
Other Direct ≥ 93 Lm/W ≥ 81 Lm/W  
Semi-Direct ≥ 80 Lm/W ≥ 70 Lm/W  
General Diffuse ≥ 73 Lm/W ========  
Semi-Indirect ≥ 88 Lm/W ≥ 71 Lm/W  
Indirect ≥ 89 Lm/W ≥ 73 Lm/W  

Product performance must be determined in accordance with National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) LE 5-2001: Procedure for Determining Luminaire Efficacy Ratings for Fluorescent Luminaires.

Did you know?

Fluorescent luminaires should be periodically cleaned and replaced to retain design light levels. Consider using lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, task tuning, and dimming when daylight is present.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $45 by Buying a FEMP-Designated Product

FEMP has calculated that the required semi-direct T8 model saves money if priced no more than $45 above the less efficient model. The best available model saves up to $147. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet FEMP designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective. Table 2 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models.

Table 2. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Semi-Direct T8 Luminaire Models
Performance Best Available Required Model Less Efficient
Luminaire Efficacy Rating (LER) 97 65 58
Annual Energy Use 202 302 346
Annual Energy Cost $18 $26 $30
Lifetime Energy Cost $206 $309 $353
Lifetime Cost Savings $147 $45 ====

View the Performance and Model Assumptions for Table 2

Performance Column

Light Output: A measure of the total amount of visible light emitted by a source (shown in lumens). Average light output for this product category is 5,500 lumens (based on model data).

Luminaire Efficacy Rating: Calculated by multiplying the luminaire efficiency by the total rated lamp lumens by the ballast factor and dividing by the luminaire watts input (shown in lm/W).

Annual Energy Use: Based on NEMA's LE 5-2001 or Illuminating Engineering Society's (IES) LM-79-08 calculations for luminaires that are operated 3,600 hours per year (shown in kWh).

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.088/kWh which is the average electricity price at federal facilities in 2021. 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 15 years. 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 kWh).

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the most efficient model in the database collected from manufacturers as of June 2021. Values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar.

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 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 ENERGY STAR or 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 ENERGY STAR-qualified or 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 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.

Fluorescent Ballast Schedules and Product Codes

GSA offers energy-efficient lighting products through Multiple Award Schedule.

DLA offers suspended fluorescent luminaires with the ENAC "HK" at the end of the NSN.

The UNSPSC for suspended fluorescent fixtures is 39111501.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Buyers are advised to compare models within each luminaire subcategory, rather than choosing a luminaire for its efficiency (i.e., LER) value alone. Luminaire size, type, optical element, and lamp type may be selected for a variety of reasons based on the application—including color temperature, color rendition, light output, light distribution, rated lifetime, and cost.

LERs should be readily available in manufacturers' literature. If they are not, ask your supplier for these values, or calculate them using this equation.

LER = (Luminaire Efficiency x Total Rated Lamp Lumens x Ballast Factor) / (Luminaire Watts Input)

Luminaire efficiency, total rated lamp lumens, ballast factor, and luminaire watts input are typically found in manufacturers' product specification sheets and photometric reports.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

In addition to selecting the optimal luminaire for the application, building operators should operate lighting only when needed. Buyers should consider using lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, task tuning, and dimming when daylight is present (where applicable) to facilitate further energy savings.

Fluorescent luminaires should be maintained to retain their light levels. This includes periodically cleaning lenses and reflectors and replacing lamps and ballasts. Changing lamps as they burn out is very labor intensive. Group relamping (changing all lamps in an area at a certain point in their average lives) is a more cost-effective maintenance practice than individual lamp replacement due to failure.

General service fluorescent lamps, including 4-foot linear T8s, T5s, and T5HOs, are a product category covered by FEMP. When relamping luminaires with these products, the new lamps must meet the efficiency requirements set in FEMP’s product overview for general service fluorescent lamps.

Fluorescent ballasts are also a product category covered by FEMP. When replacing these products in federal facilities, the new models must meet the efficiency requirements set in FEMP’s product overview for fluorescent ballasts.

Due to their long service lives, some fluorescent luminaires are retrofitted with new lamps and ballasts at the same time. This is an opportunity for federal energy managers and facilities engineers to greatly improve luminaire efficiency by selecting lamps and ballasts that are optimized to work together.

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