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How Will LEED v4 Impact Your Project’s Lighting?


The United States Green Building Council recently published an updated set of LEED green building standards. You can register for LEED 2009 or LEED v4 until June 1, 2015. After that date, the agency will require you to register for LEED v4. Keep in mind that the updated standards are for new construction projects as well as for current structures and commercial interiors. Specifically, the new LEED standards cover retail businesses, distribution centers and warehouse facilities along with healthcare centers and hospitality sites.

The LEED v4 update is significant, and it will likely impact the lighting and design choices that you make for your next project. The new LEED standards support the installation of lighting quality in EQc6.1, which is a new specification. EQc6.1 features eight options, and for your lighting and design project, you must include at least four of the following eight options.

A. Regularly occupied spaces must have light fixtures that emit a luminance below 2,500 cd/m² and between 45 and 90 degrees from the lowest point. LEED v4 does provide exceptions for wall wash fittings that are properly aimed at the walls as well as adjustable fixtures.

B. The complete project must have light sources that emanate a CRI of 80 or more except for lamps and fixtures that supply colored lighting for visual effects.

C. A minimum of 75 percent of a project’s total attached lighting load must be from light sources that feature a lifetime rating of at least 24,000 hours. If the project includes LED sources, then the lighting units must have a rating of L70.

D. For regularly inhabited areas, use direct-only overhead illumination for 25 percent or less of the project’s entire connected lighting load.

E. Make sure that 90 percent of a regularly inhabited floor space meets a minimum of 85 percent reflectance for ceilings, 60 percent for the space’s walls and 25 percent of the area’s floors.

F. When the space includes furniture, confirm that the area has a 45 percent minimum reflection for work surfaces and 50 percent for partitions that move.

G. For 75 percent of a regularly used area, do not exceed the 1:10 ratio of average wall surface lighting to the space’s regular work surface. The specification excludes window design. A project is also required to meet option E and F or display a wall reflectance of 60 percent for area-weighted surfaces.

H. For 75 percent of a commonly used floor area, do not surpass the 1:10 ratio of average ceiling lighting to work surface illumination. The requirement omits fenestration, but projects will need to meet strategy E and F, or they must establish that the space has an area-weighted surface reflectance of 85 percent for the ceilings.


To meet LEED v4 standards, be sure to select illumination that provides the proper coverage. It should also feature long lasting technology and emit good color.

LEED now requires a wide assortment of lighting controls, such as bi-level lighting and daylight harvesting, since LEED v4 is established on fulfilling the ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2010 energy standard.

Keep in mind that the standards Table 9.6.2 includes lighting regulations that may be able to reduce energy even more than the standard in cases where the control credits are requested as savings instead of as added interior lighting power. However, you must use the Space by Space Method as well as energy modeling to gain the additional benefit.

Since LEED v4 is more prohibitive and complex regarding lighting projects, the building designers will likely need to hire lighting professionals to complete illumination jobs properly. Do you have questions about your project? Luma can help.


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