LED vs. Induction Lighting

Which illumination solution is right for your facility?

LED lighting retrofit

Westcor land title insurance company tackled lighting quality during a recent remodeling project, as employees frequently complained about inconsistent lighting and an irritating buzzing sound. The company installed over 100 LED downlights and more than 200 troffers to light the 20,000-square-foot office, eliminating the noise from the fluorescent fixtures and clearing up the inconsistency problem. The new fixtures delivered a Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating of more than 90, ensuring color accuracy.PHOTOS COURTESY OF WESTCOR LAND TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY

Time for a lighting upgrade? You may be torn between LED and induction fixtures. Both offer low maintenance needs, are compatible with a variety of applications, and can secure energy savings. Familiarize yourself with the basics of these technologies to uncover which one will bring your project to light.

Understand the Essentials
Pioneered by Nikola Tesla, induction lighting has been around for over 100 years – plenty of time to earn its “set it and forget it” reputation, says Mark Havira, senior lighting consultant at Efficient Lighting Consultants. Induction lamps rely on ballasts and sealed gas-filled bulbs. Unlike the Edison-style incandescents, induction lamps don’t require a fragile electrode burning inside the bulb to produce light, which allows life expectancy to reach 60,000 hours for retrofit kits or up to 100,000 for the latest manufacturer-provided systems.

“In terms of years, 24/7 use means about 8,700 hours a year,” Havira notes. “In many cases it will be 20 years before you change a lamp on an induction fixture given the right opportunity and environment.”

LED technology is a solid state lighting system, meaning that light is created from electrons moving around within the semiconductor, a piece of solid matter inside the LED. They tend to be more expensive than induction systems, though this is no longer true in all cases, Havira notes: “You have to look at the different wattages on a case-by-case basis and make a determination from there.”

Declining component costs and continuing development are helping to drive down LED prices, Havira continues. The cost of induction systems is unlikely to budge much in either direction because the leaps in innovation have already occurred with induction – there’s not much else to improve on, whereas LED fixtures are still making notable strides.

Most innovation in LED products now focuses on optimizing the entire system rather than individual diodes and other components, adds Gary Trott, vice president of product strategy for Cree. This change has contributed to the decline in cost.

“Sometimes building owners will say ‘Why should I make the change now if the technology continues to improve?’” says Trott. “One reason is that the drops in cost aren’t going to be as large in the future, and the other is that this is the same argument as ‘Why should I buy a computer now if the technology is still improving?’ You buy it now if it makes sense financially for what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Investigate Induction
Ideal applications for induction systems include high bay areas, wall packs, and “anywhere there are metal halide, pulse start, mercury vapor, or high pressure sodium fixtures,” Havira notes.

That sort of flexibility appealed to the University of California, Santa Cruz, which included induction technology in a portion of its campus-wide lighting retrofit in 2012. The $1.1 million project included a solution for the East Field House Gym’s uneven, insufficient lighting, which stayed around 20 fc.

A design based on 3D lighting simulation led crews to replace 30 metal halide fixtures (all of which were either 175 or 250W) with a dozen 315W induction fixtures, reducing the fixture count by 60% while creating even light distribution and raising the light level to 35 fc.

The wood floor in the gym is easily damaged by heavy equipment like the scissor lifts needed to change out malfunctioning lighting fixtures, making the low-maintenance requirement paramount among the team’s concerns. The existing metal halide fixtures not only consumed a high amount of energy, but they also weren’t conducive to controllability, which in turn worsened the energy consumption problem.

The gym also requires careful attention paid to the fixtures’ safety, as wayward volleyballs can damage the motion and daylight sensors on the ceiling.

“Metal halides don’t turn on and off well at all, but LEDs and induction were fairly equal in that respect,” says Patrick Testoni, energy manager for the campus at UC Santa Cruz. “The induction fix worked well in the gym – when we did modeling, it improved the light distribution in the area and also allowed us to install daylighting and occupancy controls.”

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Examine LEDs
Aided by financial incentives, UC Santa Cruz’s 2012 retrofit also replaced MR16, T12, and T8 lamps in 70 elevators with LED versions, cutting the elevators’ energy consumption by over 50%. Light and fan controls were added to compensate for the heat produced during round-the-clock operation, and automatic controls ensure that the lights and fan turn on for eight minutes when the elevator doors open, then shut off.

Additionally, 230 150W HID streetlights were replaced with dimmable 85W LED versions and over 300 locations received bi-level LED wall-pack fixtures that can switch between 52 and 26W. The inclusion of both LED and induction provided an easy comparison for university staff.

“In some cases, what we were trying to do at the time was to determine the best way to move forward. Our electrical engineer was really favoring induction lighting and we in the energy department were strongly looking at LED,” explains Testoni. “We wanted to do a pilot to see which one would deliver more efficient lighting, decreased maintenance costs, and a longer lifetime.”

University of California, Davis faced a similar decision when they decided to roll out an exterior lighting retrofit covering 70% of the campus’s pedestrian paths, bike lanes, and roadways. About 1,200 street and area lights, 100 decorative post-top luminaires, and 100 wall-packs were replaced in 2011 and 2012, most of them with LED products. The post-top retrofits involved 45W light engines with zero to 10-volt dimming, while the HID wall-packs were replaced with LED versions that use 14W in low mode and 45W in high mode – less than a third of the HID luminaires’ consumption. Completed in 2012, the $950,000 project saves roughly 1,000 MWh and $100,000 a year.

UC Davis originally planned to use induction lighting to replace high pressure sodium pole mounts in their parking lots, but opted to try LED instead.

“The problem was that the induction lights were huge devices. A lot of the poles have four heads and they started to look like umbrellas – they were just huge,” explains Scott Arntzen, senior project manager for design and construction management at UC Davis. “We were looking for something with a smaller footprint. The product we ended up going with has a dimmable driver – we can dim it all the way down to 10 to 20%. The induction type usually only has a couple of settings below 100%, whereas the LED version has a range.”

Additionally, the new LED lights provided significantly better color rendering over their high pressure sodium predecessors, Arntzen adds. This feature also appealed to Presence Saint Francis Hospital, an Evanston, IL-based Level 1 trauma center with 24/7 traffic. Its parking garage featured yellow high-pressure sodium fixtures that just didn’t pass muster.

“When you go into a parking garage, yellow light does not give a sense of safety and security to people,” explains Joe Stark, regional director of support services for Presence Saint Francis and Saint Joseph Hospitals.

The hospital initially planned to retrofit the existing HPS fixtures with LED lamps, but ultimately ended up installing pendant-mount LED luminaires instead. This secured lower operating costs for the garage and provides even white light that also resulted in clearer security camera footage.

How to Make the Right Decision
There’s no automatic answer to which lighting technology best fits your facility. To determine which product can meet your needs, consider these tips.

1) Run the numbers. Incentives and project bundling can help make projects more affordable. Some are specific to a particular lighting technology – for example, Efficiency Vermont currently offers 20% bonus rebates for some LED fixtures and controls in addition to its general incentives for energy-efficient commercial lighting equipment.

2) Think beyond the one-to-one swap. There’s more to good lighting than just changing out your old lamps for newer, more efficient ones, says Alexis Troschinetz, behavior change and metrics coordinator for Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), a statewide partnership in Minnesota that provides resources for community-based clean energy projects.

“Depending on your upgrade, it could be beneficial to take a look at the lighting design for the area,” explains Troschinetz. “You might not have to do a one-to-one changeout. You could do less, but still get a good quality lighting output for the space.”

Westcor Land Title Insurance Company in Maitland, FL, opted to bypass the one-to-one temptation entirely by bringing in a lighting designer during a planned renovation. The designer was tasked with addressing the inconsistent light quality and constant buzzing sound of the existing fluorescent fixtures. The end result called for more than 100 LED downlights and over 200 troffers across the 20,000-square-foot space. The 90-plus CRI rating helped highlight the textures and brightly colored accents in the office.

3) What warranties are offered? If you’re switching to a new technology, determine whether the vendor’s offered warranty is compatible with your comfort level, Troschinetz recommends.

4) Do your research. When Testoni needs LED lighting, he tries to stick to products that are DesignLights Consortium certified, as the designation signifies a dependable level of quality and efficiency in commercial LEDs.

“The only problem with DLC approval is that the list isn’t maintained as fast as we would like, so there could be some high-quality fixtures on the market that just haven’t completed the approval process yet,” Testoni explains. “Typically, if the manufacturer already has many fixtures on the list and their new one isn’t on it yet, I would still move forward with it.”

5) Be proactive. Develop your own criteria to help narrow down the myriad lighting options on the market, Testoni recommends. “Most of the time, facilities people come in contact with LED through a representative of a certain product or company,” he adds. “It’s better to stay ahead and be the one looking at products – vendors will give you specific solutions based on the products they have. Not all lighting products are created equal, so find out how they aren’t.”

Janelle Penny janelle.penny@buildings.com is senior editor of BUILDINGS.

The nature of LEED: How natural laws inspire and inform green building

by Aline Peterson

In the late 1990s, a revolutionary idea arrived on the scene, shepherded by an innovative thinker and nurtured by scores of curious and passionate individuals. In the book Biomimicry, Janine Benyus introduced the notion that we could be better off by simply mimicking the ways problems are solved in nature; this idea has proven transformative.

In the book, Benyus lists nine principles that govern and define how nature operates. Not surprisingly, elements of each of these principles are readily identifiable in connection with LEED.

Nature runs on sunlight:

Just as nature is powered by the renewable energy of the sun, LEED promotes the use of renewable energy sources and the purchase of green power. If we were to consistently mimic the ways of nature, we would rely solely on renewable power.

Nature uses only the energy it needs:

We can all learn a lesson from the Center for Green Schools; one of the key ideas taught to the world’s future sustainability natives is to take only what you need, not as much as you want. In addition to encouraging the use of renewable energy, LEED also rewards projects for optimizing energy performance, both newly constructed buildings and existing buildings can receive points for energy efficiency measures.

Nature fits form to function:

This is a no-brainer, but it’s also something we very rarely pay conscious attention to. A tree is rooted in the ground to draw water and nutrients from the soil, it spreads its branches and leaves wide to increase its surface area and soak up the sunlight it needs to produce energy and grow. In the same vein, well-designed buildings and communities that adhere to the principles of biomimicry make optimal use of mass and space. LEED for Neighborhood Development capitalizes on this principle, encouraging urban planners and developers to make the best possible use of the space available and to design for the future.

Nature recycles everything:

Think about it, everything produced in nature is biodegradable. Once the natural life of a pinecone has come and gone, it breaks down into essential elements and compounds that are repurposed. In the built environment, LEED recognizes projects that reduce, reuse or recycle construction materials and thatencourage recycling once the building is occupied. Additionally, LEED encourages project teams to engage in a life cycle assessment, considering available resources based on their ability to be repurposed.

Nature rewards cooperation:

Very little in nature exists in isolation. By way of example, plants persist because of pollinators, which in turn feed on the nectar they collect. LEED also rewards cooperative forethought and effort with theintegrative process credit. Buildings that are designed with input and analysis from experts of diverse backgrounds capitalize on the differences and similarities between building systems, honoring the synergies that exist.

Nature banks on diversity:

Diversity is one of nature’s best insurance policies. We know that species with limited genetic diversity have more difficulty adapting to environmental change, and that ecosystems rich with diversity are more stable. Like a living system, LEED has evolved and changed over the years and is now applicable to a diverse body of building types including schools, healthcare spaces, retail facilities andhomes.

Nature demands local expertise:

There is a reason the term “invasive species” has such strong connotations, nature’s systems are inherently local. Certain species thrive under specific conditions; local and regional weather patterns matter, as do the types of soil, air particulates and water temperatures. Not only does LEED incorporateregional priority credits, which encourage project administrators to consider geographically specific issues, but LEED also has added incentives for the selection and use of raw materials that are locally sourced. Products and materials that are extracted, manufactured and purchased within 100 miles of a project are valued at 200% of their cost.

Nature curbs excesses from within:

Every natural system has a tipping point, a carrying capacity or a state of disequilibrium that triggers a change. Forest fires are a great example of a natural phenomenon that renews and refreshes, cutting down on excessive growth and allowing for regeneration. A large part of what makes LEED a successful system is the human element; in the end, green building is all about the people. The LEED Dynamic Plaque monitors usage and human experience, allowing building owners and occupants to identify excessive waste or usage and to adapt accordingly.

Nature taps the power of limits:

All living things are governed by limitations; age, climate, population density and many other factors determine how species and systems develop. LEED recognizes the importance of identifying limits and finding creative ways to compensate for them. A building constructed in the heart of a city may have limited parking options, but LEED rewards project administrators and owners for building near public transportation hubs.

If there is one take away this Earth Day from Janine Benyus’s simple list of natural laws it’s that there is an endless amount we can learn if we just pay attention to our surroundings. Building design and construction is an imaginative process and LEED provides credits in line with the best of what nature has to teach us about sustainable development.

Earth Day: The History of a Movement

Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.

The Idea


The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995) — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day Today

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It used the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a talking drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to a strong narrative that overshadowed the cause of progress and change. In spite of the challenge, for its 40th anniversary, Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a powerful focal point around which people could demonstrate their commitment. Earth Day Network brought 225,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, amassed 40 million environmental service actions toward its 2012 goal of A Billion Acts of Green®, launched an international, 1-million tree planting initiative with Avatar director James Cameron and tripled its online base to over 900,000 community members.

The fight for a clean environment continues in a climate of increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more victories and successes into our history. Discover energy you didn’t even know you had. Feel it rumble through the grassroots under your feet and the technology at your fingertips. Channel it into building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come.

“Frequently Asked Questions”

When is Earth Day?

Earth Day is honored around the world on April 22, although larger events such as festivals and rallies are often organized for the weekends before or after April 22. Many communities also observe Earth Week or Earth Month, organizing a series of environmental activities throughout the month of April.

Why do we need an Earth Day?

Because it works! Earth Day broadens the base of support for environmental programs, rekindles public commitment and builds community activism around the world through a broad range of events and activities. Earth Day is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities. More than a billion people participate in our campaigns every year.

What can I do for Earth Day?

The possibilities for getting involved are endless! Volunteer. Go to a festival. Install solar panels on your roof. Organize an event in your community. Change a habit. Help launch a community garden. Communicate your priorities to your elected representatives. Do something nice for the Earth, have fun, meet new people, and make a difference. But you needn’t wait for April 22! Earth Day is Every Day. To build a better future, we all must commit to protect our environment year-round.

What is Earth Day Network?

Founded by the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network (EDN) promotes year-round environmental citizenship and action, worldwide. Earth Day Network is a driving force, steering environmental awareness around the world. Through Earth Day Network, activists connect, interact and impact their communities, and create positive change in local, national, and global policies. EDN’s international network reaches over 22,000 organizations in 192 countries, while the domestic program assists over 30,000 educators, coordinating thousands of community development and environmental protection activities throughout the year.


Global Revenue From Advanced Energy Reaches Nearly $1.3 Trillion

Global Revenue From Advanced Energy Reaches Nearly $1.3 Trillion

The U.S. market grew 14 percent in 2014, five times the rate of the overall economy.

Julia Pyper
March 11, 2015

The advanced energy sector has made it to the big leagues.

At nearly $1.3 trillion in global revenue for 2014, the market for innovative energy products and services is now as large as the market for apparel and fashion, and almost four times the size of the semiconductor industry worldwide, according to a new report commissioned by the group Advanced Energy Economy (AEE).

Last year was the biggest year for growth in advanced energy worldwide since AEE began tracking these markets in 2011 in collaboration with Navigant Research. Global revenue increased 12 percent compared to 2013.

In the United States, the advanced energy market revenue grew 14 percent last year — five times the rate of the U.S. economy overall — to just shy of $200 billion, making it bigger than the U.S. airline industry ($180 billion), equal to pharmaceuticals ($200 billion) and nearly the same size as consumer electronics ($211.3 billion).

U.S. advanced energy revenue has grown 38 percent over the last four years. Today, it represents 15 percent of the global advanced energy market.

Advanced energy spans seven broad industry segments, including technologies such as solar, energy storage, demand response and natural gas turbines. Building efficiency is currently the largest segment of the U.S. advanced energy market, with revenue of $60.1 billion in 2014. According to AEE data, revenue in building efficiency has grown 43 percent over the last four years.

Results in transportation were mixed, with a slight year-over-year revenue decline. U.S. revenue for hybrid vehicles fell by 19 percent in 2014, but went up by 34 percent for plug-in electric vehicles. Revenue from electric-vehicle charging stations jumped up 31 percent to $201.5 million, a sevenfold increase from 2011. Revenue from natural-gas-powered vehicles went up 26 percent.

In electricity generation, solar energy and natural gas generating equipment both increased substantially, up 39 percent to $22.5 billion and 48 percent to $6.4 billion, respectively. According to AEE, the uptick in turbine sales indicates that the “natural gas revolution” is now translating into new orders, and not just boosting productivity at existing natural gas power plants.

In 2013, wind energy saw a severe downturn in response to uncertainty over the federal Production Tax Credit. Revenue fell to $2.1 billion in 2013 from $25.5 billion in 2012, which was enough of a blow for all segments of U.S. advanced energy to show an overall decline of 4 percent on a year-over-year basis. But wind bounced back in 2014, reaching $8.2 billion. Based on the number of projects currently in the pipeline, 2015 could be a record year.

Today, 4.4 percent of U.S. electricity comes from wind. Susan Reilly, president of RES Americas, said the wind industry’s goal is to produce 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030.

“We know that’s possible, but it’s very dependent on policy,” said Reilly, speaking at an AEE event this week in Washington, D.C.

Policy will be a key driver of continued growth across the advanced energy sector, said Graham Richard, CEO of AEE. In particular, where federal tax provisions for advanced energy have been allowed to lapse, they need to be extended.

“Making energy tax policy stable, predictable and technology-neutral so our industry can invest in growth for the long run is very important,” he said.

State policy matters too, according to Richard.

“In some states, renewable energy and energy-efficiency policies are under attack,” he added. “In those states, we see an opportunity to do more discussion in the area of energy efficiency and peak demand management.”

Regulations also need to change. Many utilities in the U.S. and around the world are paid for building new assets and selling electricity. As some parts of the advanced energy market continue to grow, they will diminish utility revenue by reducing the need for new capacity and energy sales.

But at the same time, utilities are vital to the coming transformation in the power sector, according to leaders in advanced energy.

“We need to reform all over the world that regulatory paradox, so that utilities…are not hurt financially by all of this innovation,” said David Brewster, president and co-founder of EnerNOC. “It’s in [society’s best] interest: we want to reduce carbon, we want to reduce energy, and we need to make sure utilities have a stake in that and are incentivized to do that.”

Over the last 135 years, “utilities have developed a range of expertise, not just in owning and operating wires,” said Richard Caperton, director of national policy and partnerships at Opower. “But they have also developed strong customer relationships, they have strong customer-facing brands and they understand their customers better than many of the AEE companies could ever understand their customers.”

“I think we need utilities to be a delivery vehicle for a range of solutions,” he said.

A paradigm shift is taking place, said Tom Starrs, vice president of market strategy and policy at SunPower Corp. Today, utilities aren’t simply building supply and responding to demand; they’re modifying demand to meet the available supply, including from intermittent renewables like solar and wind.

Advanced energy products included in the AEE report “can benefit the grid by really, tangibly reducing the costs of operating and maintaining the grid itself, while also improving not just sustainability, but also the reliability and resilience of the grid,” he said.

“While we have a lot of rhetoric of opposition [around technology innovation], underlying this, I see a different attitude than I saw three years ago,” said AEE’s Richard. “There’s a desire to get it right and make it work.”

TAGS: advanced energy economy, efficiency, enernoc, natural gas, opower, solar,sunpower, utilities, wind

Philips sells 80 percent of lighting components unit for $2.8 billion

(Reuters) – Philips (PHG.AS) has agreed to sell an 80.1 percent stake in its lighting components division for $2.8 billion to Go Scale Capital, a technology fund that will seek to expand the company’s automotive and LED businesses.

The deal announced on Tuesday is a prelude to an even bigger strategic move for Philips: spinning off its main lighting division, the world’s largest lighting maker, via a stock market flotation, as the Dutch group focuses on medical technology and selected consumer products.

Philips said the deal values the components business, which comprises an automotive lighting unit and the “Lumileds” LED manufacturing business, at $3.3 billion including debt.

ABN Amro analyst Marc Hesselink said the sale price was “considerably above market expectations”. The unit made a profit of 141 million euros on sales of 1.42 billion in 2014.

Go Capital was advised by London-based Zaoui & Co, while Philips was advised by Morgan Stanley.

Philips shares, which had hit a 14-month high of 27.675 euros earlier this month, eased 0.4 percent to 26.53 euros by 0952 GMT.

Go Scale, which beat off competition from private equity firms to seal the deal, has previously invested in Boston Power, a U.S.-based manufacturer of electric vehicle batteries, and Xin Da Yang, a Eco-EV company in China.

It said it plans to expand the business, building on Philips’ customer base which includes the likes of Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), BMW (BMWG.DE) and Audi.

“We expect to see significant growth and unparalleled inroads into new opportunities such as electric vehicles,” Go Scale chairman Sonny Wu said.

Go Scale is funded by GSR Ventures, with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Silicon Valley, and by Oak Investment Partners. Consortium partners include Asia Pacific Resource Development, Nanchang Industrial Group and GSR Capital.

“There were other bidders, also good bidders, perhaps with fewer connections in the industry of semiconductors and the ability to help in building out scale,” Philips CEO Frans van Houten told reporters.

Reuters had reported that rival bidding groups led by private equity firms CVC-KKR and Bain Capital had been vying for Lumileds until the Asian-oriented group entered the bidding in mid-March.

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, are semiconductor devices that emit light when an electric current passes through them.

Although their use has boomed in recent years, the industry has suffered from overcapacity and price erosion. Philips has said its LED business has operating margins above 10 percent after a 2012 restructuring under Pierre-Yves Lesaicherre, but needs further investment to improve scale.

Philips said it wanted to sell the subsidiary, which will be called “Lumileds,” because so many of its customers compete with Philips itself. Approximately 20 percent of component sales are to Philips’ own main lighting business.


Update given on Warriors' San Francisco arena plans

Warriors executives gave a public update on their arena plans for the team’s new home in 2018.
The hottest team in the NBA is expected to have the most state-of-the-art stadium in just a few years. On Tuesday, the Warriors gave an update on their San Francisco arena plans. The team’s new home will be built in the Mission Bay area at 3rd and 16th streets.

Warriors’ president Rick Welts shared the team’s vision with a Chamber of Commerce gathering. The new arena is expected to break ground early next year and open in 2018.

The 12-acre-plot is in the developing Mission Bay neighborhood, near AT&T Park and the new UCSF Hospital complex. The Warriors believe the $1 billion showpiece will draw the league’s top players.

“Plus think, most of our players are in their 20’s and the future of our world is being determined by 20 somethings in the Bay Area right now,” Welts said.

Welts says the arena may also attract national political conventions.

“I hope we nominate a president of the U.S. here,” Welts said.

And get ready for big-name concerts. However, it’s the die-hard Warriors fans that need to buy in. Some fans are concerned the team will become kind of corporate and others say they’re excited to see a basketball team in San Francisco.

The Warriors say their fan base at Oracle is about evenly split between San Francisco and the East Bay. Those demographics are now fueling a lively debate — if the hottest team in the NBA wins the championship, which city hosts the festivities?

Still, with the team on a roll, you bet they’re thinking about it.

You may be able to catch a Warriors game on ABC7 this weekend. We’ll know more when the playoff schedule is set.

We do know the NBA Finals can be seen only on ABC7. Live coverage begins June 4.

Property Management of Section 8 and Housing Choice Voucher Programs

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If you’re looking for residents who have incentives to pay their rent on time each month look no further. Those who qualify for federally sponsored housing assistance programs backed by the only organization that can legally print money…the federal government…awaits you!

The oldest program has been around nearly 80 years! Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937, authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 3.1 million low-income households.

It operates through several programs, the largest of which, the Housing Choice Voucher program, pays a large portion of the rents and utilities of about 2.1 million households. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) manages the Section 8 programs.

One property manager I interviewed who participates in the Housing Choice Voucher program said she feels secure knowing the government funds will be deposited in her client’s bank account every month.

She explained the HUD-managed program was meant to pay for “a portion” of the rents and utilities of those in its care. But often, as she explained, payments are greater than competitive rental prices.

   A Real-Life Example of How Section 8 Renters Pay Off for Landlords

Instead of renting a recently vacated house on the open market, the property manager encouraged her landlord-client to offer it to the local Section 8 housing authorities. They found a woman with two children to rent it.

“The Section 8 people offered to pay us $1,600 a month for this property, which is about $300 more than it’s worth”, the manager told me.

“After my client pays the monthly expenses – the mortgage, maintenance, and taxes – we are netting more than 12% on this investment. That’s a nice return in today’s world”.

“Is there a catch?” I asked disbelievingly? “What if the resident didn’t pay her rent?”

The manager explained that Section 8 guarantees about 75% of the monthly rent.”

So, as she informed me, even if the resident doesn’t pay, the government still deposits $1,200 into their account, no questions asked. The resident is responsible for the remaining $400.

But there’s no reason for the landlord to worry about their renter’s $400 payments. The local Public Housing Agency make sure she pays her part. They act as “the enforcers”.

The owners don’t even worry about her making payments on time; because the local agency handles that challenge also.

Then I asked what would happen if she and her children trashed the place? I was told that the local officials dutifully inspect the house and make sure it stays in good condition.

In effect, they do the work of a property manager, free of charge. The owner-client still wanted a property manager to be their “liaison” between them and the local agency.

But since the property manager hardly needed to do anything they negotiated a lower fee then the standard 10% of the rent normally paid to a property manager.

When the lease expires, if the resident leaves, the government finds another resident to take her place – on the same terms, which saves the property manager and the owner that responsibility.

The best part was that it’s all guaranteed and supported by the federal government. Everyone including the resident came out ahead.

Remember, public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. The family or individual’s income cannot exceed 50% of the median income for the area.

There are strict guidelines that owners and tenants must follow to be eligible to participate in these kinds of program. For specific details, contact your local Public Housing Agency.

Israel no longer worried about its water supply, thanks to desalination plants


At a water desalination plant on the sea near the northern Israeli town of Hadera, water pumped in from the Mediterranean is pushed through rows of multi-layered plastic membranes, and through a process called reverse osmosis, emerges after 90 minutes as tasty drinking water.


HADERA, ISRAEL — Israel has gone through one of the driest winters in its history, but despite the lean rainy season, the government has suspended a longstanding campaign to conserve water.

The familiar public messages during recent years of drought, often showing images of parched earth, have disappeared from television despite weeks of balmy weather with record low rainfalls in some areas.

The level of the Sea of Galilee, the country’s natural water reservoir, is no longer closely tracked in news reports or the subject of anxious national discussion.

The reason: Israel has in recent years achieved a quiet water revolution through desalination.

With four plants currently in operation, all built since 2005, and a fifth slated to go into service this year, Israel is meeting much of its water needs by purifying seawater from the Mediterranean. Some 80 percent of domestic water use in Israeli cities comes from desalinated water, according to Israeli officials.

“There’s no water problem because of the desalination,” said Hila Gil, director of the desalination division in the Israel Water Authority. “The problem is no longer on the agenda.”

The struggle over scarce water resources has fueled conflict between Israel and its neighbors, but the country is now finding itself increasingly self-sufficient after years of dependency on rainfall and subterranean aquifers.

Israel’s experience might also offer some important lessons, or at least contrast, for states like California. Now gripped by drought, with the all-important snowpack averaging only 26 percent of normal, California has struggled with desalination efforts in the past.

At present, more than a dozen desalination projects are at various stages of planning in the state, and the California Department of Water Resources will be announcing a new round of desalination grants in May. The grants are very modest, though; the last round, for instance, offered just $45,000 to study the technology in southern San Luis Obispo County.

The plants themselves, meanwhile, are costly and frequently controversial. One big plant built two decades ago near Santa Barbara, in the final years of an earlier drought, is now dormant. Officials estimate it would cost $20 million or more to reactivate it.

A proposal for a 50 million-gallon-per-day facility at Huntington Beach in Southern California would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. In November, the California Coastal Commission postponed granting the project a permit pending more studies.

Each of Israel’s plants cost between $300 million and $450 million to build. The plants are privately owned and operated, under a contract with the government, which buys the water from the plants. The budget for water purchases comes from water charges to consumers. The plants are not subsidized.

Israel’s efforts to solve its water shortage haven’t ended with desalination. The country treats and recycles more than 80 percent of its wastewater, using it primarily for agriculture, making it a world leader in that field.

By easing its own water crunch, experts say, Israel could free up more of the precious resource in a possible peace agreement with the Palestinians.

At a water desalination plant on the sea near the northern Israeli town of Hadera, water pumped in from the Mediterranean is pushed through rows of multi-layered plastic membranes and, through a process called reverse osmosis, emerges after 90 minutes as tasty drinking water.

The company that runs the facility, IDE Technologies, which is based in Israel, recently showed foreign visitors around the plant, touting its performance along with another plant at Soreq, near the southern Israeli coast, the largest reverse osmosis desalination plant in the world. That plant produces 150 million cubic meters of potable water a year.

IDE is also involved in building seawater desalination plants abroad, including what is expected to be the largest such plant in the Western Hemisphere at Carlsbad, Calif., able to provide 50 million of gallons of potable water a day.

The Israeli plants, mostly located along the coast, operate at high energy efficiency and are some of the most cost-efficient in the world, when measured against similar plants in other countries, according to official figures. Desalinated water at the Soreq plant is produced at the price of 52 cents a cubic meter, according to terms of a government tender, and while actual rates fluctuate according to energy costs, currency exchange and the cost-of-living index, they remain significantly lower than in other nations.

But environmental experts caution that desalination has its costs, among them high energy consumption from power plants that emit greenhouse gases, use of scarce land on Israel’s crowded seacoast, and emission of highly concentrated saline water and chemicals into the ocean, with unclear environmental consequences.

“In Israel, environmental costs are not taken into account when calculating the costs of desalinated water,” said Nurit Kliot, a professor of environmental studies at Haifa University.

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, a regional environmental group, said desalination should be part of integrated water policy that included conservation and use of solar energy to power desalination plants.

“A level of desalination is absolutely necessary because the population of this region has gone way beyond the carrying capacity of natural water resources, but desalination needs to be brought in not as the first option, but as the last option,” Bromberg said.

“Water conservation is now out the window,” Bromberg noted, lamenting the suspension of the campaign to save water.

Bromberg said the government needs to encourage efficient water use by reducing water subsidies for farming and by regulating crops to avoid those that require heavy irrigation, such as tropical fruits.

In addition, he said, Israel is still at “an infant stage” when it comes to recycling what is known as gray water from sinks, showers and baths for use in toilets or gardens.

In peace negotiations with the Palestinians, desalination could allow for more equitable sharing of natural water resources in the West Bank, now largely controlled by Israel, according to Bromberg.

“Increasing the pie through desalination allows the natural water to be shared at low political cost for Israel and at a high political gain for Abu Mazen,” he said, using the nickname of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “Allowing more water to flow in every Palestinian tap has immediate impact on the quality of life of all Palestinians. This is relevant to the (peace) efforts of Secretary of State (John) Kerry. We can move forward rapidly on water.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/03/20/221880/israel-no-longer-worried-about.html#storylink=cpy

Woman builds 186 sq. ft. modern tiny home to bypass unaffordable housing market

by Kimberley Mok (@kimberleymok)

Isabella Mori

© Isabella Mori

A few months ago, Lloyd wrote about how many tiny homes are too cutesy and even “ugly,” considering the multitude of sleeping lofts squeezed under impractical gable roofs. No wonder when we showed a couple of tiny homes inspired by Japanese design, they got quite a bit of mileage.

Building yet another modern tiny home with Japanese flavours is 50-year-old Vancouverite Isabella Mori, who got her new 186 square-foot tiny home built late last year as a way to bypass rising rents and Vancouver’s shockingly expensive real estate market, recently ranked second-most unaffordable in the world, after Hong Kong.

© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori

Faced with this dilemma, Mori got a tiny home builder, John McFarlane of Camera Buildings, to build her a custom-designed tiny house. Mori spent about CAD $39,000 (USD $30,995) to create a home that is well-lit, and packed with lots of transformer furniture for her and her two cats. A sense of financial security — without having to shell out a fortune for a condo — was her top priority, as Mori told The Province:

Basically, I was looking for some kind of housing security in Vancouver — which we all know is hard to find — and also not having a lot of money to go out and buy something. I was having to seriously think about looking at what’s going to happen to me.

It’s one of the better designed tiny homes we’ve seen: the elongated layout, with the galley kitchen to one side, and the full wall of slatted windows to the other side, makes it feel much more spacious. The home has two levels, with the entry, closet and kitchen on the lower level, and up a couple of steps is the mezzanine, which has a lovely workspace, another closet and a 6-foot by 27-inch washroom with shower and composting toilet (the kitty litter box is in here too, with kitty poo smells vented out with the help of a computer fan).

© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori

One of the best parts of the design is the awesome pull-out bed, which is hidden under the mezzanine level. It solves that head-conking problem with conventional tiny home gabled roofs, with the exposed steps also serving as extra storage.

© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori
© Isabella Mori

Punctuating it with a lot of adorable Japanese knick-knacks, Mori loves her new home so far and has dubbed it “Thousand Crow.” It’s currently parked on rented land in an RV park, but Mori can easily move it anywhere she wants to in the future — one of the perks of living tiny. You can read more over at The Province and see more images over onImgur.

The Working Man’s Prefab

By James White from Homey Improvements

Personnel-Door-and-AC-UnitA recent post highlighted the upsides and downsides of flashy prefab homes from a Danish company called VIPP. It’s an interesting architectural idea, but perhaps not the most practical for everyone. It’s kind of like an upgraded version of those trailers you always see on construction sites.

An upscale job site trailer like the one VIPP offered only got me thinking more and more about the common type everyone is used to seeing; the kind that looks like a leftover from a tractor trailer crash. It sits on a dirt patch and has men in hardhats hustling in and out all day long.

The Importance of an Office on a Job Site

For such a simple structure, it sure can carry a lot of importance on the job site. It frequently acts as the brain center of the entire operation. Frustrated carpenters know they have to clamber inside of it when they need to check their work against the architect’s plans. Foreman record the job’s progress, make orders for materials, and fill out timesheets there.

Despite its mobile nature, it’s about as permanent of a location as you can possibly get when a building is going up. It can act as a lunch room, meeting room, and central place to hold the most expensive tools. It can be the coolest place to take off your hat and grab a quick drink during a scorching summer day and the warmest place to eat lunch and start to feel your toes again on a freezing winter day.

Consider the Right Trailer for the Job

But not all job trailers are built equally. Take a look at these modular office buildings from cargo conainers, for example. Okay, so they might not be as stylish as VIPP’s, but then again, VIPP’s belongs in the MoMA and not anywhere near where place trucks are rolling in and out all day (just imagine some gravel kicking up against all that glass – yikes).

Custom-built modular buildings made from shipping containers are popular today and bring many advantages, such as the following:

  • They drastically reduce costs because they don’t require assembly for many raw materials.
  • Trailers can be quickly built to your specifications – much faster than building something from the ground up.
  • They’re customizable; you can install hardwood floors in them and mold them to your specific needs.
  • You can insulate them with standard fiberglass or closed cell spray foam.
  • You can give them a homier feel by putting up some drywall.
  • You can install as many windows as you want, so it never feels like you’re spending your day inside a sheet metal cave.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that you can even request multi-level units. These might not be the most popular things on job sites, but it’s a possibility because the units are built to withstand over 200,000 pounds.

Maybe it’s easier than you thought to upgrade from a rancher-style trailer office to a multi-level, onsite construction office that’s totally customized to your preferences.