What is the Illuminating Engineering Society?
Just about every project has some sort of lighting involved in one way or another, including both electric light and natural daylight. From the simple strip light in a storage closet, to an intricate facility incorporating open office, private offices, reception, recreation spaces and such. Lighting applications do not simply stop at the building’s shell, many of the most intricate and aesthetically pleasing lighting designs are executed on the exterior of a facility. Exterior lighting projects can vary from small parking lots with one pole, to large multi-level parking structures, outdoor recreation promenades or sports facilities. As you can see, lighting plays a very integral role in our lives including; the homes we live in, the offices we work in and the roads we drive on.

All of these projects have a various set of requirements that need to be considered when it comes to the lighting design. You need to consider the tasks being performed. Is it a general open office space with workstations? Or is it an industrial facility where fine tasks are being completed? Is it a surgical procedure space? Or simply a storage warehouse? Perhaps it a sports facility accommodating youth, college or pro level athletes. All of these applications have very different lighting requirements.

The most important consideration is who will be occupying these spaces. Younger occupants tend to require less illumination than older individuals. You would light a high school classroom very differently than you would light a senior living facility. Providing the right illumination levels to suit those who inhabit the space is crucial in the art of lighting design.

Where do these guidelines and recommended practices come from? Who decides what the ‘right’ way to light a space is? That entity would be The Illuminating Engineering Society.

Established in 1906, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) is the recognized technical and educational authority on illumination. For over 100 years its objective has been to communicate information on all aspects of good lighting practice to its members, the lighting community, and consumers through a variety of programs, publications, and services. The strength of the IES is its diversified membership including: engineers, architects, designers, educators, students, contractors, distributors, utility personnel, manufacturers, and scientists, all contributing to the mission of the Society: to improve the lighted environment by bringing together those with lighting knowledge and by translating that knowledge into actions that benefit the public.

The IES is a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and a vehicle for its members’ professional development and recognition. Through its technical committees, with hundreds of qualified members from the lighting and user communities, the IES correlates research, investigations, and discussions to guide lighting experts and laypersons via research and consensus-based lighting recommendations.

Lighting Standards

The IES is an accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO) under American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved procedures. The Society publishes nearly 100 varied publications including recommended practices on a variety of applications, design guides, technical memoranda, and publications on energy management and lighting measurement, many of which follow the ANSI standards development process. The IES also publishes the most important reference document in the lighting profession, The Lighting Handbook. It is the industry’s principal source for lighting knowledge. The IES, in addition, works cooperatively with related organizations on the development of programs and jointly published documents and standards.

Lighting Calculations

The aforementioned Lighting Handbook is a vital tool when it comes to lighting design and calculations. When analyzing a particular space, the lighting designer must determine suitable illumination levels for the task being performed. The most recognized, and common unit of measure used by lighting professionals in order to calculate light levels is the footcandle (fc). A footcandle is defined as the “illuminance on a one square foot surface from a uniform source of light.” The Lighting Handbook is responsible for determining the recommended fc levels that should be present in a space. Shown in the figures on page 15 are a few examples of lighting calculations being performed.

Periodicals and Publications

In addition, the IES publishes Lighting Design + Application (LD+A) and LEUKOS, Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society. LD+A is a popular, award-winning, application-oriented monthly magazine. Every issue contains special feature articles and news of practical and innovative lighting designs, systems, equipment and economics, as well as news of the industry. LEUKOS publishes peer-reviewed articles that report research results, engineering developments, technical aspects of lighting applications, tutorials, and critical reviews. Many IES publications are available as complimentary downloads (such as the IES/IDA Model Lighting Ordinance for outdoor lighting or the Advanced Energy Design Guides, jointly produced by the IES along with the AIA, ASHRAE, USGBC, and the US DOE), providing a resource for keeping up to date with the latest practices and standards.


The broad range of IES educational offerings serves both the general public as well as working professionals in the lighting field. The IES supplies educational offerings that offer IES CEUs (Continuing Education Units) that are accepted by the NCQLP (National Council on Qualification of Lighting Professions) as well as other professional organizations. Also, as an accredited Continuing Education provider with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC), IES continually seeks to update its education programs and where relevant, issues certificates of continuing education credits to program participants.

Through a strong networking process, IES supports lighting education outreach offered by our 96 local IES Sections in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Those in the lighting industry can avail themselves of courses on a range of levels, from a basic lighting course (Fundamentals of Lighting – 10 modules) to Intermediate Lighting and ongoing advanced Applications Seminars. New content, courses and ways of delivering IES education are under development, from introductory pre-Fundamentals to advanced level seminar courses.

IES – Rochester, NY Section

Locally, the IES is represented by the Rochester, NY section. The board of directors is comprised of local engineers, manufacturers, designers, electrical distributors and manufacturer’s representatives. They meet once a month with the purpose of creating opportunities for the community at large to learn and understand the latest in lighting and lighting control technology and how to properly apply those technologies.

Those opportunities are focused around lunch time presentations by industry professionals or after-hours educational programs. Past topics have included LED lighting technology, lighting controls, theatrical lighting, OLED technology and Light & Health. Upcoming presentations include an overview of local rebates available for energy efficient lighting use.
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