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City offices experiment with energy-efficient Berkeley Lamp

Guy Poole Daily Planet staff
Thursday November 01, 2001

A new energy-efficient Berkeley Lamp was presented to the city Wednesday by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Charles Shank.  

Thirteen fluorescent desk lamps were donated to the city’s engineering offices and will be used in a pilot program where the lamps’ energy consumption will be monitored for one year. 

Based on four years of research and testing at LBNL, the Berkeley Lamp is a “Trojan Horse for energy efficiency,” said an enthusiastic Michael Siminovitch, one of the project designers. 

“Most office lighting is profoundly challenged, and people are very sensitive to their environment. User control and preference is the Trojan Horse for getting energy efficiency to the market place,” said Siminovitch. “Usually, energy efficiency means a penalty of either the amount of light or control.”  

The lamp is reported to be as bright as a 300-watt halogen torchiere and a 150-watt incandescent lamp combined at full power, but uses a quarter of the energy. 

The lamp’s efficiency lies in the control of the immediate environment. At the heart of the Berkeley Lamp is a patented Septum Dish, which looks like a metal cereal bowl, dividing two 55-watt CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps), sending light up and/or down. Two dimmer switches control either the torchiere or desk style of lighting.  

Siminovitch said the lamps were first designed to meet the needs of the hotel and residential market, but they are finding their place in the office, especially where there are no windows and the only light source is overhead fluorescent lighting.  

Berkeley Energy Officer Neal De Snoo led a tour of the city’s engineering office where the 13 Berkeley Lamps were the only source of light. 

“This office alone will save the city $915 per year,” said De Snoo. “This office produced 6 tons of carbon dioxide per year (using overhead fluorescent lighting). It will now produce 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide.” 

“The light is very nice, a much warmer feel,” said Wendy Wong, an assistant public works engineer who works in the office.  

She was not a fan of fluorescent lighting, but said she is a fan of the lamp.  

There are about 1,000 Berkeley Lamps currently in use in California. For more information see energy.