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Duplicable City Center Lighting

This page is about the development of the lighting plan for the Duplicable City Center. It is purposed to share the important developments and considerations made in relationship to the interaction of light, energy conservation, and aesthetics in this structure. This page includes the following sections:


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Aravind Batra: Electrical Engineer, LEED AP, Principal of P2S Engineering
Dipti DhondarkarElectrical Engineer
Erika Yumi Tamashiro: Architecture and Urban Design Student
James Del Monaco: Mechanical Engineer, LEED AP, Sustainability director of P2S Engineering
Joel Newman: Architectural Visualization Designer and owner/operator of Figment
Mike Hogan: Automation Systems Developer and Business Systems Consultant


Duplicable City Center Lighting, Eco-lighting, LEED Platinum lightingDesigning an eco-lighting plan means creating a maximally energy efficient and functional plan to meet all of a structure’s lighting needs. It saves energy and reduces up-front energy infrastructure costs in off-grid village construction. As a component of achieving LEED Platinum certification, lighting is also the foundation of 19 possible points of 80 needed (out of a total of 110). Teaching people that this can be accomplished effectively and beautifully is part of our Highest Good Energy and self-sufficient and replicable teacher/demonstration community, village, and city plan.


Highest Good society, fulfilled living, enriched life, enriching life, living to live, how to live an enriched life, keeping it all running, sustainable living, social architecture, fulfilled living, thriving, thrivability, emotional sustainability, the good life, a new way to liveA LEED Platinum lighting plan looks at the maximum allowable light levels as a baseline and then performs an evaluation of the system you intend to build as a comparison to this maximum. New structures that incorporate a 48% (or more) increase in efficiency over the baseline are eligible for 19 (the maximum number) of LEED points for this category.

It is also worth noting that the LEED energy usage rating is for the entire building. This means that exceeding efficiency goals in one area can then provide additional energy availability in another area. Our goal, however, is to keep our numbers as low as possible because it reduces our total up-front energy infrastructure needs and costs.

With this in mind, to assess the desired 48% increase in efficiency we set a goal of 50% increase and used the following conservative choices from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) lighting power density benchmarks:

  • Living Dome (5400 sq feet) – Benchmarked as “Hotel” @ 1 W/sq foot
  • Social Dome (6570 sq feet) – Benchmarked as “Library” @ 1.18 W/sq foot
  • Dining Dome (4185 sq feet) – Benchmarked as “Dining: Family” @ .89 W/sq foot
  • Cupola (785 sq feet) – Benchmarked as “Conference/Meeting/Multipurpose” @ 1.23 W/sq foot
  • Central Mezzanine – (2453 sq feet) – Benchmarked as “Corridor/Transition” @ .66 W/sq foot

We then made the assumption that we will exclusively utilize LED lights (the latest technology), which have higher upfront costs but consume much less electricity than traditional or even compact fluorescent bulbs. Here is how LEDs compare to traditional lightbulbs to produce the same amount of light:

LED Wattage Traditional Wattage
4 W 25 W
8 W 40 W
10 W 60 W
20 W 100 W
30 W 150 W

Using only these lights, combined with average light production goals for each room, allowed us to achieve our LEED Platinum goals:


The living dome seems to be the most straightforward. We based our calculations on the assumption that the lighting will be the same on both floors and we used the second floor’s smaller area (≈2700 sq ft) as the assumed budget for each floor. At 50% of the suggested allowance for a “hotel” of 1 W/sqft, this provides us with around 1350 W per floor, which far exceeds the estimated usage (692W) that covers the following:

  • Bedroom (6 x 76W = 456W)
    • Nightstand Lamp (2 x 8W = 16W)
    • Floor Lamp (3 x 20W = 60W)
  • Large Bathroom (3 x 44W = 132W)
    • 3-Light Vanity (3 x 8W = 24W)
    • Ceiling Light (1 x 10W = 10W)
    • Shower Light (1 x 10W = 10W)
  • Small Bathroom (3 x 16W = 48W)
    • 2-Light Vanity (2 x 8W = 16W)
  • Closet (1 x 16W)
    • Ceiling Lights (2 x 8W = 16W)
  • Hallway (1 x 40W)
    • Ceiling Lights (10 x 4W = 40W)

The social dome consists of the following:

  • Communal bathroom (2 x 56W = 112W)
    • Ceiling Lights (7 x 8W = 56W)
  • Library (1 x 180W)
    • Ceiling Track Lights (15 x 4W = 60W)
    • Floor Lamps (6 x 20W = 120W)
  • Open Area (1 x 240W)
    • Lights Aimed At Ceiling (4 x 30W = 120W)
    • Floor Lamps (6 x 20W = 120W)
  • 2nd Floor (1 x 120W)
    • Floor Lamps (6 x 20W = 120)

From these estimates, the social dome lighting will consume at most 652W, which is far below the maximum of 3877 W (4185 sq feet + 2385 sq feet = 6570 sq feet * 1.18 W/sq foot = 7753 W * 50% = 3877 W).


Of the three domes, the limit provided for the dining dome is the lowest. With a suggested lighting density of .45 W/sq foot (0.89 W/sq foot * 50%), the ground floor has a maximum of ≈1883W (0.45W/sq foot x 4185 sq feet) and the second floor a limit of ≈871 W (0.45W/sq foot x 1935 sq feet). Our plan for lighting usage for the dining dome areas are:

  • Open Dining Area (180W)
    • Lights Aimed at Ceiling (6 x 30W = 180W)
  • 1st Floor (160W)
    • Ceiling Lights – Integrated or Track (40 x 4W = 160W)
  • 2nd Floor (100W)
    • Floor Lamps (5 x 20W = 100W)

The cupola is a single enclosed space surrounded by windows. Basic track lighting near the perimeter with ceiling lights closer to the center should adequately illuminate this 785 sq foot space:

  • Track Lighting (288 W)
    • 6 lights per side x 8W per light = 288W
  • Ceiling Lights (60 W)
    • 6 ceiling lights closer to the center at 10W per light = 60W

The above plan works out to be 0.44W/sq foot. This seems reasonable and is well under the goal of .66 W/sq foot (1.23 W/sq foot * 50%). It is also worth noting that this will almost always only be used at night since there are 360 degree windows and thus natural lighting will often be more than sufficient.


For this area, we envision a set of 3 lights attached to each of the 6 pillars at the level of the 3rd floor. Thus, the estimated power usage is 6 pillars * 3 lights/pillar * 20W per light = 360W. If this will illuminate the entire 2453 sq foot area, then we’d have an effective lighting density of ≈0.15 W/sq foot (360W / 2453 sq feet), which is significantly less than the .33 W/sq foot goal (.66 W/sq foot * 50%).


Bringing in natural light is one of the most effective ways to make a building feel pleasant and comfortable inside, and is also a hallmark of modern architecture. Most of the Duplicable City Center should have a good amount of natural light due to the big windows placed high up in the domes, but it’s important to complement that with interior light sources. Designing the interior lights to feel more “natural” accomplishes several things—it enhances the open feeling of the building rather than distracting, it simulates daylight on dark days or in the winter, and it helps keep the interior feeling more physically comfortable in extreme weather (i.e. warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer).

For the proper aesthetic feeling, we will use a combination of indistinct ambient light and detailed spots. This is important because flat even lighting is boring and generally less desirable, like this:


In contrast, what we want to create is more along these lines:


This second example doesn’t have a ton of natural light but it still feels open and airy. White (or very close to it) walls and ceiling accentuate this even more by reflecting light, an experience we will specifically enhance in our structure by aiming larger lights up to reflect off these white ceiling and walls to maximize ambient light to mix with the lights from the overhead windows. For the largest spots, we will use heavy-duty track lights that can be positioned and adjusted while in place; mounting them on the corner walls of the domes aiming up and out, like this:


By mounting them there, they can be aimed so they will spread light over the roof of the dome very nicely without creating glare in anyone’s eyes.



In areas with a more traditional ceiling (i.e. in bedrooms, bathrooms, and underneath balconies in the domes), a combination of reflective fixtures and in-ceiling can-lights or track lights will be used.

A similar feeling of ambient light can be created with fixtures similar to the picture on the left:



Can-lights create a relatively even amount of light in a room, but still have “hot” spots underneath them that make for a far more interesting visual experience like this:





Light color is also an important consideration. As color temperature goes higher on the Kelvin scale it gets whiter and then bluer, and this tends to give a colder outdoor impression. A lower color temperature is yellower and softer, and tends to feel cozy and warm. Here’s an example of the comparison:


Cooler colors will be used in the big wide-open spaces to enhance the airy feeling. Warmer colors will be used in more intimate places — next to big chairs in the library, in the living quarters, at the bar counter, etc.


Click to Enlarge


Before placing the various lights in AutoCAD, we tested various configurations using free DIALux lighting software to make sure the lighting plan would supply sufficient and properly distributed light to all areas. This was especially important for the Social and Dining domes because both of these domes have two foundational lighting systems. The first is a floodlight system designed to fully light the room by reflecting light off of the ceiling. The second is a complete system of full-color spectrum lights for making these domes any color we desire. All the lights chosen are LEDs and both systems were designed to provide the minimum amount of light necessary for code compliance and safety.



Here are the Social Dome lighting tests with 38,000-lumen LED spotlights pointed at the ceiling and using the reflected light to light the entire dome. These tests show that just these three lights are sufficient to light the entire room if  positioned and aimed properly as shown in Angle Test #3.

One Community Lighting Tests Duplicable City Center Social Dome

Here are the lighting tests using the spotlight positions identified as the best above, and then adding in all the other dimmable and full color-spectrum LED lights that will be mounted on the column and used in the table lamps. Using these alone or in conjunction with the spot lights will allow us to make the lighting in the main room of the social dome any color we desire.

Dipti Dhondarkar, (Electrical Engineer) continued with her 48th week of work on the lighting specifics for the City Center. This week’s focus was combining the spotlight lighting plan with the table-top and loft-overhang plan to visualize and test all the lighting together, as shown here.


Here are the results of the same tests done for the Dining Dome. The top row of images shows just the spot lights. The middle row shows just the column and table lights. The bottom row shows the combination of both spotlights and table and column lights. As with the Social Dome, the spotlights are dimmable and the table and column lights are dimmable and full color-spectrum LED lights to provide full color-spectrum lighting options for the entire upstairs and downstairs dining areas.

Duplicable City Center LIghting, Dipti Dhondarkar, One Community blog 237, 640

Dining Dome Lighting Analysis: Spotlights Only | Table and Column Lights | All Lights Together – Click to Enlarge

Here are these same lighting tests done for the complete and open source eco-kitchen area. What you see here is a uniform distribution of lights throughout the ceiling with hanging lights to bring more direct light to the work areas.

Image coming….







Duplicable City Center Lighting, Eco-lighting, LEED Platinum lightingOne Community’s approach to Highest Good energy is a combination of conservation, functionality, and monitoring, fine tuning, and data sharing. We know people will adopt the solutions we present if we can demonstrate lighting and energy approaches that save people money, still provide functional and aesthetically beautiful environments, and teach people how to replicate them. The Duplicable City Center will do all these things and more while helping us achieve LEED Platinum certification. This page will be where we continue to share all we learn, create, and evolve throughout the process.



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