Boston’s LED Cluster: Lighting Up Everything From Projectors to the Pru

4/20/10Follow @xconomy

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industrial facilities with LED lighting systems that also intelligently monitor energy functions and can be programmed to responsively turn on and off based on a building’s function.

At present, lighting for 250,000 square foot commercial-scale facilities costs about $1 per square foot annually. Digital Lumens’ system is designed to bring that cost down to a dime, by combining more efficient LED lighting with software that helps monitor energy usage and eliminate inefficiencies, says CEO Tom Pincince. The reduction in energy is the equivalent of taking 109 cars off the road or 139 homes off the power grid, for each commercial facility that adopts the new technology, he says.

Digital Lumens, founded in spring 2008, has a staff with more than a decade of LED experience, but its product hinges almost as heavily on software as it does light-emitting diodes. Its devices contain strips of LED lights and a mini computer processor with networking technology, allowing multiple fixtures to communicate wirelessly with one another to work responsively and intelligently. The system of lighting fixtures can be set up to all turn on at once, or turn on in a domino effect, depending on the use of the facility.

A facility administrator can track the entire landscape of devices from a software interface, and control them in zones that best correspond to the different patterns of use in the building. The interface also provides the building administrator information on how much energy the different zones are using, to better inform him or her about lighting options.

Revamping a 250,000 square foot commercial-scale building with Digital Lumens technology costs between $400,000 and $500,000, but the company’s goal is for the product to pay for itself in energy savings in about two years. The devices can last for decades, too, Pincince says. He hopes companies will look to the LED system as an efficient cost-cutting method in the difficult economy. “People would rather fire a kilowatt than fire an employee,” he says.

DigitalLumensUltimately, he envisions the technology showing up “anywhere you see a really bright light”—from big retail stores, to garages, to streetlights.

Philips Color Kinetics, of Burlington, MA, is also taking LED technology to the commercial building level, but is lighting up some famous landmarks around town. Think of Boston’s Old North Church, Prudential Tower, and TD Banknorth Garden. The company has indoor and outdoor architectural lighting installations at almost 17,000 sites across the globe.

Philips Color Kinetics is one of the older players in the Boston LED cluster (and the industry). The company started as Color Kinetics in 1997, which went public in 2004 and was acquired by Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands in summer 2007 (NYSE: PHG). In the decade-plus it has been around, the company has developed LED products with a wider range of capabilities and have gotten … Next Page »

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