‘Dim’ idea conserves energy costs

This new technology – its creators claim – could dramatically change the economics, energy requirements and environmental impact of commercial lighting.

And it has the feds very interested.

John McCallum, minister of national revenue and natural resources, was in Toronto last week to flip the switch on this homegrown technology that is expected to reduce office lighting energy consumption by up to 60 per cent.

The technology was developed by Oakville, Ont.-based Fifth Light Technology Ltd. with support from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) – a non-profit foundation created by the government of Canada. SDTC operates a $550 million fund to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies.

Its creators say the technology uses a unique, patented controller system that, for the first time, enables fluorescent lighting systems using magnetic ballasts to be dimmed. The system allows for the individual, automated control of each lighting fixture in a building, in step with lighting needs and the time of day.

McCallum expressed the Canadian government’s “commitment” to investing in clean technology. “We will continue to invest and forge new partnerships and alliances with private industries and organizations like SDTC and other levels of government.”

He said Ontarians and Canadians needed some assurance that they would be able to switch on the lights, today, and five and ten years from now.

Investing research dollars in environmental technology and initiatives of companies such as Fifth Light would pay off, and continue paying off years from now, the minister said.

These views were echoed by Vicky Sharpe, SDTC president and CEO.

“There needs to be an investment in what has increasingly become a pressing condition around energy availability,” she said. “Most commercial space in Toronto, and Canada, is not using the optimum technology.”

Sharpe said lighting represents about 20 per cent of the energy costs of running a building, and if prices go higher it is vital that Canada has a solution.

Fifth Light became interested in this field several years ago, according to the company’s president, Joseph Dableh. He said the key to better commercial lighting efficiency and energy savings lies in dimming and intelligent control systems and management protocols, rather than expensive electronic ballasts and light tubes.

Fifth Light’s technology has been tested in a smaller installation in downtown Toronto over the past three years, the partners said.

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