Maryland Green Purchasing

Lighting products

Lighting products - which typically consist of a lamp (the light source), the luminaire (fixture) and in some cases a ballast - provide visibility and contribute to safety, security and productivity, but also consume energy and in some cases produce large amounts of heat.

Many traditional lighting products, such as incandescent and fluorescent lamps, are being replaced by newer technologies that use less electricity and require less maintenance. About 90% of the electricity consumed by traditional incandescent lamps produces heat instead of illumination. Compact fluorescent (CFL) lamps can produce the same amount of light for less than a quarter of the electricity and last 6-15 times as long. Light-emitting diode (LED) lamps are as efficient as CFLs, last about 25-35 times longer than incandescent lamps, and unlike CFLs are mercury-free.

Ballasts control the starting and operating voltages of fluorescent and HID (high intensity discharge) lamps. Magnetic ballasts used with fluorescent light fixtures prior to 1979 contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have to be disposed as hazardous waste, and are being replaced with electronic (high-frequency) ballasts, which are cost-effective, 12% more efficient, and eliminate flicker and hum. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) identifies the most energy-efficient instant-start and programmed rapid-start electronic ballasts designed for use with T8 fluorescent lamps.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ENERGY STAR guidelines for some classes of lamps and fixtures and the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance and efficiency requirements for a variety of product categories, including fluorescent and industrial luminaires (fixtures), fluorescent ballasts, and exterior lighting.

Exterior lighting should be used for safe pedestrian passage and property identification, lit during active business hours when there is not enough daylight and shut off afterward. Lamps should provide no more than the maximum light level (lumens per square foot) for adequate visibility and fixtures should be "full-cut off" or “fully shielded”. Excessive, stray or misdirected light from exterior fixtures may cause unsafe glare, trespass over property lines, and contribute to "light pollution” and unnatural "sky glow". Research indicates that intrusive night lighting may interfere with circadian rhythms in humans, reducing the production of the hormone melatonin, as well as disrupt the migrating, feeding, and breeding habits of many wildlife species.

Many outdoor lights can be solar powered, reducing both energy consumption and maintenance. "Dusk-to-dawn" sensors without a middle of the night shut off control should be avoided. Security and police should be notified of the “lights out” policy so that illumination and activity after hours can be investigated. For areas with cold winters, lamps should be rated for extreme temperatures of 0° F and less.

Lights with motion or occupancy sensors, controls, dimmers or timers provide visibility and security while saving energy by turning off when not in use. Fluorescent, induction, and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting sources work better with occupancy sensors and dimmers than traditional high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting sources and have the same, or longer, rated life spans.

Maryland State Finance and Procurement Article §14-406 requires state agencies to give preference to products and equipment that are mercury-free or contain the least amount of mercury necessary to meet product or equipment performance standards. Fluorescent lamps contain mercury but are preferable to incandescent lamps due to their high energy efficiency.

For more information, see Maryland Green Purchasing Committee Newsletter, Fall 2013 Product Focus:


When selecting lamps, ballasts and fixtures state agencies should pursue the goals of

  • Energy efficiency
  • Long lamp life, and
  • Low mercury content

Agencies should replace T12 fixtures with energy-efficient T8 or T5 fixtures with electronic ballasts. When purchasing fluorescent tube lamps, agencies should consider long-life, super long-life, extra life and extra long-life models.

DOE has published specifications for high-efficiency parking lot and parking structure lighting, which can cut energy costs (as much as 70%) through reduced energy use, while also cutting maintenance costs (as much as 90%) through extended life.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance provides technical assistance to Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking (LEEP) participants.

Lighting Products Specifications