Lighting R&D

Photo of a grocery store produce department, illuminated by LED track accent lights on the ceiling.

Solid-State Lighting

New lighting solutions are key to reducing building energy use. Solid-state lighting offers more potential to save energy and enhance the quality of our building environments than any other lighting technology. Learn more.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working in close collaboration with research and industry partners to increase energy efficiency in buildings by pursuing new and evolving lighting technologies and practices.

DOE's solid-state lighting portfolio activities target improvements in the efficiency, performance, lifetime, and quality of light from both organic and inorganic light emitting diodes. Solid-state lighting systems have the potential to more than double the efficiency of today's lighting systems, and these research and development efforts represent an essential component of meeting the Building Technologies Program's energy efficiency goals.

Still, a mix of lighting solutions will be needed to meet our nation's near-term and long-term needs, which is why DOE has a number of other programs that promote efficient conventional lighting technologies:

  • DOE conducts studies on spectrally enhanced lighting which is a simple strategy that uses existing products and technology to significantly reduce energy use in commercial buildings.
  • The Commercial Building Energy Alliances bring together building owners, managers, and operators from a variety of business sectors to minimize the energy use and environmental impact of commercial buildings. Currently, alliances exist for retail, commercial real estate, and hospitals, with more to come.
  • In Commercial Building Partnerships, companies and organizations are selected to work with DOE and its national laboratories on specific retrofit and new-construction building projects to achieve whole-building energy savings of 30% or better in retrofits and 50% or better in new construction by transforming the building delivery and management processes.
  • Commercial Lighting Solutions is an interactive Web tool that helps commercial building owners improve their lighting efficiency with a combination of commercially available but underused technologies, lighting controls, expert lighting design, and integrated systems. The tool—currently available for retail and office facilities, with institutional buildings to follow—allows a builder or designer to enter specifics about a project and provides a detailed report about possible lighting strategies.
  • Building America partners with more than 270 companies—comprised of architects, engineers, builders, equipment manufacturers, material suppliers, community planners, mortgage lenders, and contractor trades—to conduct and support research, development, and demonstration activities that will produce cost-effective homes that use up to 70% less energy.

Additional DOE programs that support the deployment and demonstration of energy-efficient lighting technologies include the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Block grants help U.S. cities, counties, and states implement projects to reduce total energy use and fossil fuel emissions, improve energy efficiency, and create and retain jobs. The Federal Energy Management Program facilitates the federal government's implementation of sound, cost-effective energy management and investment practices to enhance the nation's energy security and environmental stewardship.

The Cost of Lighting

According to the Buildings Energy Data Book energy consumption for all lighting in the United States is estimated to be about 18% of the total electricity generated. More than half of the energy is consumed in the commercial sector, where lighting coincides with peak electrical demand and contributes to a building's internal heat generation, increasing the air-conditioning load. The conversion of electricity into useful light is one of the least efficient energy conversion processes in buildings today. Advanced lighting technologies can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting and reduce building energy consumption and costs.