Marc Foster Receives Lighting Certification

Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes Interview!

KirkwoodHotel-05Marc Foster recently earned his Certified Lighting Designer designation making him one of the few consulting engineers in the state of Iowa with this certification. We sat down in early February for a chat about what this means for Marc, DE’s customers, and the lighting world.

Q: Hey Marc! Congratulations on your new certification!
A: Thanks! It’s something we’ve been wanting to add to the DE toolkit for a long, long time. It’s good to see it finally happen.

Q: So what does your new certification mean for the firm?
A: We’ve always offered basic lighting design services, but now we have measurable processes and can better compare these to industry standards and benchmarks.The official designation of LC doesn’t change our services, but it improves their results and gives us new insights into alternatives.

Q: Illuminating, Marc. What insights and guidance have you gained as a result of your certification?
A: My certification gives me more direct experience with the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America), the lighting guidelines that we use to determine appropriate levels of lighting. We also studied many different case studies as part of our preparation that have been good learning tools as well.

Q: Will all Electrical Engineering services now have this extra bit of lighting expertise?
A: Absolutely, our clients want that kind of focus. We will really be using this designation to procure new work as well as enhance our already stellar staff of design professionals.

Q: That’s glowing praise, Marc. So, what advantage will DE have over other firms by having an LC in-house?
A: Many clients, including The University of Iowa, are asking for the LC designation from their consultants on new projects and we want to be at the top of the list for the area’s most challenging projects.

Q: What is the direct benefit to your customers by having an LC in-house?
A: Right now our customers have peace of mind knowing we have this expertise in-house.  As our experience grows I can see us providing marketing, color rendering, etc. to projects using our AGI32 modeling software.

Q: Can I now call you the resident lighting geek?
MF: Here yes.  Outside of the office I am just a geek.

Q: Brilliant! So are you guy obsessing over foot candles at the desk surface now?
A: We do look at that.  The IESNA has guidelines for all types of spaces.  However, there is also an energy component at play too and the W/sf numbers we are bound to per the ASHRAE energy code is just as important.  These two entities are the building blocks to all projects.

Q: Are you suddenly more attuned to glare, color vibration or people’s auras?
A: Glare is definitely a hot button topic.  With the onset of LED lighting, we are trying to play the game of energy efficiency vs. source brightness.  The lamp image is something we try to avoid so diffusing the source and still allowing the light fixture to produce lumens where and when it needs to is something we pay attention to.

Another item that is important is color rendition and color shift. Color rendition is the measure of how true a surface appears in the color spectrum.  As you may know, a red wall looks different with different color temperature sources illuminating it. We try to match color temperature of all lighting sources on a project, and if we cannot, we use these differences to highlight or call attention to Architectural features or to create a mood for a space. Color shift is when a light source changes its color temperature over time.  This is typically seen in Metal Halide lamps as they age.

Q: Do you have some words of wisdom about the sweeping changes we’re seeing in overhead fluorescent switching over to LED?
A: LED technology is a growing industry and is a viable solution now to almost all design situations.

Q: Is there a cost savings with LED, and what’s the ROI for that?
A: There are costs savings when you look at some applications of LEDs from a lifecycle standpoint; however, the price to purchase LEDs is always higher and the savings gained in lowered maintenance costs and energy usage is usually worth the investment. It’s something that we calculate very specifically on an case-by-case basis for our clients.

Q: That really sheds some light on LEDs! Are you working on a project now where you will be using these skills?
A: Every project Of course!  Actually we are working on a new Kirkwood project that will be one of the first “all LED” educational buildings in the state.

Q: Has this changed how you light your own home now?
A:  You can be sure I will be paying much closer attention to the overall lighting in my home.  Since we don’t work on residential projects here at DE, this will be more of a labor of love.

Q: Well thanks for taking the time to brighten up our day. One last question, are you living the dream of becoming an LC?
A: That is affirmative.