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Lure of energy efficient lighting not enough to offset empty buildings

Though there are benefits to installing energy efficient lighting, they are not sufficient to swamp out the effects of a punk economy. That might be one lesson from the latest readings of NEMA’s Lighting Systems Index. After a steep first-quarter decline, the index contracted an additional 4.3% during the second quarter of 2009.

The drop marked the third consecutive quarter in which the index has fallen to a new all-time low reading. The index was down even more sharply on a year-over-year basis, plummeting nearly 25%, and has registered more than a cumulative 30% drop from its cyclical peak in early 2006. For the third consecutive quarter, each major type of lighting equipment making up the index posted lower inflation-adjusted shipments versus the second quarter of 2008, with a particularly sizable year-over-year decline in luminaire shipments.

NEMA also figures spending on residential energy-efficient lamps, which tend to be expensive, could remain under some downward pressure. Similarly, the backdrop for lighting equipment predominantly used in nonresidential applications is expected face several more quarters of weakness as the commercial real estate downturn gains momentum. Replacement demand for lighting as well as retrofitting to energy-efficient systems will be dampened as firms try to find short-term fixes to cut costs and restore profitability.

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