September 13, 2016 | by Marge Anderson, Executive Vice President, Seventhwave

four energy engineers at a bar

Actually, it wasn’t a bar. It was a dinner party. After the second local, sustainable micro-brew the truth came out. Shanti Pless from the National Renewable Energy Lab said he enjoyed Seventhwave's case study of our "Living Lab" headquarters. But he had only one question—are we sure about those Lighting Power Density numbers?

“Why, what’s your LPD?” asked Brendan Owens from USGBC, turning to Scott Hackel from Seventhwave.

Scott replied: “.08.” (Hint: that LPD is really low─almost half of NREL’s new net-zero energy office.)

This led to some very civilized looks of disbelief from Shanti and Brendan. And, that’s how Shanti and Brendan ended up on a lighting tour of Seventhwave’s headquarters.

How we did it

First, Seventhwave started with a strong yet cost-effective daylighting strategy. With a window-to-wall ratio of just 39%, strategic window placement on the north side of the building proves that a space full of natural light does not need to sacrifice energy savings. Skylighting and cost-effective interior design strategies also bounce natural light where it’s needed.

Second, Seventhwave used—and thoroughly commissioned—lighting controls that included simple but effective wireless photosensors and more occupancy sensors than many designers specify. This allowed us to tune the lighting in each type of space in the office for maximum savings without compromising the comfort and productivity of the space.

During the tour, Shanti made a good point. If facility management resources are too constrained to allow for advanced lighting controls, some building owners—like schools—are beginning to rely on an all LED lighting strategies since the cost of LEDs have been coming down over time. Something to consider as control sophistication and LED costs are both constantly changing.

Unbelievable LPD

This very low LPD is one of the many drivers behind Seventhwave’s low energy use intensity, shown below. Our current EUI is 33 while the average office building in the region sports an EUI of 86.

Seventhwave Madison's EUI

Seventhwave Madison's EUI for 2016 Q2.

Moral of the story

Don’t challenge Seventhwave’s energy performance, unless you want a tour of our building. But do enjoy a local, sustainable micro-brew responsibly. Especially if it’s brewed by Seventhwave’s Adam McMillen.

lighting and daylighting, sustainable design

Marge Anderson


Marge is passionate about building the human capacity to generate economic and environmental sustainability, with particular emphasis on the built environment. Her current strategy work addresses both technical and human behavior knowledge gaps that prevent sustainable and regenerative energy use in buildings.

Marge has a strong background in nonprofit governance, education design and integrating education into energy efficiency programs to meet resource acquisition and market transformation goals. She also develops policy and program recommendations for decision makers related to green jobs, capacity building and market-based educational approaches.

Marge serves on the Board of Directors of the New Buildings Institute. She is past Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council's Board of Directors.