Energy Focus, an award-winning innovator in LED lighting and USSBC member, discusses what the new wave of human-centric lighting (HCL) means to them, why including disinfection solutions in HCL products is an idea whose time has come, and their ambition to build the “Silicon Valley of Energy Efficiency” in Saudi Arabia
James Tu, Chairman and CEO
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, Energy Focus, an Ohio-based, NASDAQ- listed member of the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, has accelerated its efforts to become a leader of the new wave of human-centric lighting (HCL), which aims to provide human biological health and safety benefits through combining lighting with advanced technologies, and is rapidly emerging as the next frontier of LED lighting technology. HCL products aim to elevate the impact of lighting to a whole new level, “unseen” since the time electric lighting was first commercialized in the Thomas Edison days.
Energy Focus, the creator of the first flicker-free LED products, has been an innovator in the field of LED lighting for close to 20 years. Clients include military and maritime (70% market share of U.S. Navy lighting), healthcare (Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, university hospitals), education (Penn State University, University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, over 200 school districts), U.S. federal, state, and local governments, as well as Fortune 500 companies.
While energy savings and sustainability remain the core appeals of LED lighting, Energy Focus believes that HCL will usher in another “once in a century” golden era for general lighting by delivering superior “triple bottom-line” benefits for the environment, health, and business.
HCL encompasses a range of lighting technologies devoted to enhancing the quality of life of building occupants. These innovations center upon reducing or eliminating flicker, providing high color rendering, and facilitating the controls of color temperature and brightness of lighting. Health benefits of HCL result from this ability to dim and color-tune LED lighting to align human bodies with their circadian rhythm, the 24-hour biological clock surrounding the movement of the Earth around the Sun. Studies have shown HCL could enhance learning effectiveness or employee productivity by as much as 20-30%, while significantly improving sleep quality. MarketsandMarkets estimates that the HCL market will grow from USD $810 million in 2019 to USD $3.6 billion by 2024, a CAGR of 35.2 percent. The market growth is driven by the adoption of LED lighting solutions, initiatives toward establishing smart cities, and the rise in the demand for energy-efficient lighting solutions.
Energy Focus’s breakthrough HCL Innovations
EnFocus™ is an award-winning, patent-pending lighting control platform with flicker-free, secure dimmable and color-tunable LED tubes and switches that utilize existing powerlines to provide affordable dimmable and circadian lighting capabilities for existing buildings. EnFocus™ aims to provide 60-80% energy savings over fluorescent lighting. It is simple to install by swapping out the existing fluorescent and wall switches and can be done by any qualified electrician, maintenance staff, or contractor. There is no need for rewiring for control capabilities or replacing the whole fixtures, saving a significant amount of labor and product costs, as well as reducing fixture waste by up to 50 times over a 10-year period, making it the most sustainable lighting control system in the market today. And since the control system does not need wireless communications, EnFocus™ is network safe and secure, free from cybersecurity risks. It also comes with the ability to preserve high power factor and low total harmonic distortion, unlike traditional phase-cut dimming, making the lighting systems even more energy efficient without causing disruptions to building power systems. Overall, EnFocus™ brings circadian lighting capabilities with one-third to one-sixth of the cost of any other wired or wireless LED lighting controls.
Energy Focus’s recent HCL product lines are also expanding to provide additional and important benefits in a post-pandemic world.
A breakthrough development in the evolution of HCL is the ability to integrate self-contained UV-C disinfection within the units that can continuously reduce pathogen levels in the air while preventing human exposure to harmful UV rays. Energy Focus applies the proven disinfecting power of UV-C light (254 nm wavelength) and cutting-edge technologies in LED, electronics, sensors, cloud, and AI to deliver products designed to destroy up to 99.99 percent of various airborne and surface pathogens, including influenza and coronaviruses, such as SARS and SARS-CoV-2.
Its new impactful, affordable, and chemical-free disinfection solutions for indoor spaces include:
Most air purifiers currently in the market target specific breathing or allergy issues, requiring frequent filter changes. They lack sufficient UV-C or air circulation power. With an enclosed UV-C chamber shielded from direct human exposure, the patent-pending nUVo™ can achieve 4 air changes per hour (ACH) in a 200-square-foot room. It also does not need filter changes, and the replaceable UV-C lighting module lasts over 10,000 hours (or over 2 years if used 12 hours per day on average).
abUV is an integrated lighting and air disinfection system for current and post-pandemic public spaces, such as hospitals, schools, universities, offices, retail stores, or public assemblies where 2×2 and 2×4 fluorescent or LED fixtures are the predominant form factor for lighting. With a built-in fan that draws, disinfects and circulates the air in the room at approximately 2 ACH in a 200-square-foot space, the abUV troffer system provides facilities with continuous air disinfection.
The patent-pending mUVe is an autonomous surface disinfection robot designed for chemical-free disinfection with 99.99 percent effectiveness against pathogens such as influenza and coronaviruses that are within the range of 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) of the unit. Moving at a speed of 18 inches per second and with the ability to cover approximately 15,000 square feet of space per hour, the robot is capable of reducing pathogens on surfaces—walls, furniture, equipment—in its line of sight with a concentrated beam of UV-C light directed by a proprietary parabolic reflector, as well as on floors disinfected by another UV-C lamp on the bottom of the robot. In addition, mUVe also comes with an attached UV-C wand that could be used by the robot operators to further disinfect surfaces that are out of line of sight from the robot, such as cabinets, drawers, personal articles, etc.
Building the “Silicon Valley of Energy Efficiency” in Saudi Arabia: Energy Focus Value Proposition for the Saudi Market
Energy Focus is interested in introducing its recent HCL innovations to the Saudi market, developing high-quality LED lighting as well as R&D and manufacturing in the Kingdom. The company also aims to engage in dialogue with energy sector stakeholders to develop energy efficiency retrofit (lighting-as-a-service and energy-efficiency-as-a-service) projects for public and commercial business customers.
“Vision 2030” for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a clear call for unlocking business opportunities, broadening its economic base and creating jobs and general prosperity through global investment in innovation and technology. As a proven innovation and tech leader in the global lighting industry, Energy Focus is uniquely positioned to deliver energy efficient, sustainable and human-centric LED lighting, smart building and smart city solutions to further develop the sophisticated digital infrastructure that Saudi Arabia will build.
Energy Focus’s new EnFocus™ control platform features an advanced switch with intuitive digital display that delivers its human-centric lighting capabilities to improve health, productivity and safety in both commercial and residential environments, where people spend 90% of their time under artificial lighting. As LED lighting technology continues to rapidly evolve in terms of both energy efficiency and connectivity, the exponential emergence of IoT technologies will only accelerate the functionality and intelligence of HCL. Energy Focus’ HCL systems deliver scalable, sustainable and upgradable solutions for both new construction and efficient retrofits for existing buildings that optimize human wellbeing in the age of IoT.
Energy Focus is committed to developing partnerships that will foster continued R&D of HCL plus manufacturing capabilities in the Kingdom that serve future advancements in lighting technology. Centered around HCL that provides real-time building occupancy and traffic data, we also look forward to expanding our smart building and smart city technology offerings and contributing to the Kingdom’s vision of building the “Silicon Valley for Energy Efficiency”