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Covered Product Category: Light Fixtures (Luminaires)

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance and Federal efficiency requirements for light fixtures or luminaires. The luminaires product category is very broad and covers a wide variety of lighting products. Both ENERGY STAR and FEMP provide programmatic guidance for various types of luminaires. See Table 2 for more information about which types of light fixtures are covered by which program (FEMP or ENERGY STAR). Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies meet these efficiency requirements in all procurement and acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

For luminaire types covered by ENERGY STAR, manufacturers display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. Visit the ENERGY STAR website for the most up-to-date commercial light fixture efficiency levels and product specification information, and a list of qualified light fixtures. For luminaire types covered by FEMP, product efficiency requirements are provided in the relevant product overview guidance. See table 2 for more information.

Meeting Energy Efficiency Requirements for Luminaires (Light Fixtures)

Buy products with the ENERGY STAR label and/or check the ENERGY STAR–qualified products list. Buyers can assume that ENERGY STAR–qualified products are life cycle cost-effective; if a Federal buyer finds this is not the case, or that a qualified product is not reasonably available, then the head of the agency must document in writing this justification for an exception.

Table 1. Efficiency Requirementsa for Federal Purchasesb
Luminaire Type Luminaire Efficacy (Initial)
Portable Desk Task ≥ 29 lumens per watt
Downlight (recessed, surface mount, pendant, SSL retrofit) ≥ 42 lumens per watt
Under-Cabinet ≥ 29 lumens per watt
Accent ≥ 35 lumens per watt
a The ENERGY STAR specification for luminaires includes a number of requirements to ensure lighting quality. This table provides the ENERGY STAR luminous efficacy requirements for directional commercial luminaires. Consult the ENERGY STAR specification for full qualification requirements, including additional product types and additional measures of luminaire quality.
b Requirements as of April 2012. For the latest efficiency requirements, visit the ENERGY STAR Product Specifications website and look up light fixtures in the Lighting & Fans section.


Defining the Covered Product Category

The ENERGY STAR product specification for luminaires (light fixtures) applies to both residential and commercial products, but this FEMP product overview provides acquisition guidance for only the most commonly used ENERGY STAR commercial products. See the ENERGY STAR website for more information on how products qualify for the ENERGY STAR label.

Table 2. Comparison of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-Designated Coverage of Commercial Lighting Products
Product Categories Covered by the ENERGY STAR Luminaires Specification Product Categories with FEMP-Designated Efficiency Requirements (Not Covered by ENERGY STAR)
Directional downlights—recessed, surface mount, or pendant Linear fluorescent lamps
Shelf-mounted display and task lights, such as those mounted under overhead storage cabinets Linear fluorescent luminaires (troffers)
Portable desk lamps Industrial (high bay) luminaires
Accent lights, including line-voltage track lighting Exterior lighting


Reducing Energy Costs When You Buy ENERGY STAR–Qualified Products

Because of the wide variety of luminaire types that meet the ENERGY STAR specification, it is difficult to estimate how much energy a given product type could save. Buyers should consult with ENERGY STAR to determine cost-effectiveness for the specific product under consideration.

Determining When ENERGY STAR Is Cost-Effective

In general, ENERGY STAR–qualified luminaire products are life cycle cost-effective compared to alternatives using incandescent lamps. An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional upfront cost (if any) compared to a less-efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers first cost and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels.


Products meeting ENERGY STAR performance specifications may not be life cycle cost-effective in certain low-use applications, such as when a device is being purchased for a fixture with low hours of operation. Operating conditions vary from facility to facility. To help determine cost-effectiveness in unusual operating conditions, consult with ENERGY STAR.

Complying with Contracting Requirements

These requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide specifications and project specifications; renovation, repair, maintenance, and energy service contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Energy efficiency requirements should be included in both the evaluation criteria of solicitations and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires Federal agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 in solicitations and contracts that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products. FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into both the technical specification and evaluation sections of solicitations. Agencies may claim an exception to these requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR–qualified or FEMP-designated product is available to meet the functional requirements, or that no such product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Additional information on Federal requirements is available.

Buyer Tips: Choosing Efficient Products

Downlight luminaires using incandescent lamps do not meet ENERGY STAR performance requirements. Federal law prohibits Federal buyers from purchasing incandescent downlights unless the head of their agency determines in writing that an exception is warranted. In lighting situations with low lumen output requirements, fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts are recommended as replacements for incandescent lamps. Ceramic or pulse metal halide lamps, or solid state lighting, may be preferred in downlight applications requiring small dimensions or high color rendering qualities.

User Tips: Using Products More Efficiently

Proper lighting design is critical to maximizing lighting efficiency. Commercial downlight luminaires, in particular, are often used in office and retail environments. The Advanced Lighting Guidelines website (registration required, free for Federal employees) provides specific design guidance for both office and retail lighting applications.

Where possible, task lamps and under-cabinet work surface lighting should be used in combination with lower ambient (overhead) light levels. Occupancy sensors can also provide savings for both task and overhead downlight fixtures. Integrated dimming systems with daylight controls are also available for use with downlight fixtures.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this product overview.

Updated March 2013