Looking to increase the size of the market pie for the entire lighting controls industry, over 20 lighting-control manufacturers and other industry allies launched the National Dimming Initiative (NDI) at Lightfair earlier this month.

Most of the charter members of the initiative, spearheaded by Advance Transformer, Inc., Rosemont, Ill., are competing lighting-control manufacturers, but they have banded together in an effort to increase awareness of the capabilities of lighting controls, simplify the specification and installation of these products, and, they hope, increase sales of these products for all manufacturers. The group collectively invested $1 million in the NDI.

The NDI's supporters believe the increasing sophistication of lighting controls is scaring off some potential users, designers, architects, contractors, distributors, reps and others involved in the design, specification, sales and installation of the products.

Nancy Clanton, president of the Boulder, Colorado-based Clanton and Associates and one of the charter supporters of the NDI, said in a press release that she hopes the initiative will dispel the fears that designers and other lighting professionals have about lighting controls, which she said "are one of the most complicated, technical and intimidating product lines in our industry today."

To get more lighting controls installed in new construction and retrofit jobs, the NDI's supporters developed a CD-ROM resource that contains manufacturers' product catalogs; a lighting-controls tutorial and estimator; and case studies covering installation of lighting controls. The lighting-controls estimator allows users to see the impact a lighting-control system would have on energy savings, total project cost, the environment and worker productivity. Regular updates to the catalog will be available on the NDI's Web site, located at www.alcp.com.

Along with the hard-core technical information, the CD has a computerized game that tests users' lighting knowledge and product applications skills.

The group expects to distribute 5,000 to 10,000 copies of the CD-ROM and a related brochure to the lighting industry over the next two years. They got off to a good start at LightFair according to Susan Bloom, Advance Transformer's manager of market research, strategic planning and agency relations. More than 1,000 attendees requested copies of the CD-ROM.

Along with Advance Transformer, NDI charter supporters include GE Total Lighting Controls, Cleveland, Ohio; Johnson Controls, Inc., Milwaukee, Wis.; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.; Leviton Manufacturing Co. Little Neck, N.Y.; Lightolier Controls, Fall River, Mass.; Lithonia Lighting, Conyers, Ga.; Lutron Electronics, Coopersburg, Pa.; Novitas, Inc., Culver City, Calif.; Sensor Switch, Wallingford, Conn.; and The Watt Stopper, Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.