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October 4, 2021

By 2018, LEDs had become the second-most common lighting in U.S. commercial buildings

lighting equipment used in U.S. commercial buildings
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)

According to our 2018 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), LED lightbulbs had become the second-most common type of lightbulb in commercial buildings. LED bulbs were reported in 9% of commercial buildings in 2012, but they were reported in 44% of commercial buildings in 2018. The prevalence of all other bulb types decreased between 2012 and 2018.

LED lights use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, and their costs have continued to decline. Legislation such as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which provided minimum efficiency mandates for new lightbulb production, has had a significant effect on the growth in adopting more efficient lighting options. According to our long-term energy projections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (AEO2021), we expect LED lighting to continue growing and to provide up to 95% of commercial lighting needs by 2050.

Standard fluorescent lighting remains the most common type of lighting in commercial buildings, but it was reported in 16% fewer buildings in 2018 than in 2012. Standard fluorescent lightbulbs are typically long, narrow glass tubes and are particularly common in office, education, and retail buildings.

High-intensity discharge (HID) lighting was reported in only 4% of commercial buildings even though it is unique in that it provides lighting options that are suited specifically for commercial buildings. HID bulbs produce very bright light that is ideal for high-ceiling spaces with open layouts such as sports arenas, warehouses, and big-box retail stores.

Our CBECS is the only nationally representative data collection for building characteristics and energy use for commercial buildings in the United States. You can find more information on lighting and other characteristics in the most recent CBECS data release, which covers building characteristics. We expect to publish commercial building energy consumption and expenditures data in summer 2022.

Principal contributor: Zack Marohl