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Could the market for energy-efficient electrical products be any more alive? Think about it. Because they last three or four times longer than today's most efficient light sources, LED lighting may soon change the way we light buildings — much the way fluorescent lamps revolutionized the lighting business nearly 70 years ago.

Then there are utility rebates. They were given up for dead in the late 1990s, but over the past few years, rebates have climbed back to breathtaking heights. For instance, San Diego Gas & Electric is so intent on enticing customers to cut back on their energy usage that it's offering them annual rebates of up to $350,000 if they install energy-efficient building systems.

As if the utility rebates weren't enough, additional financial incentives are available from Uncle Sam for energy-efficient retrofits in its EPAct 2005 and Commercial Building Tax Deduction. The rebates and incentives are all well and good, but any energy guru will tell you that most of today's energy-efficient electrical equipment has a reasonable payback period on its own merits because of the savings it produces in energy costs.

There's so much going on in the energy-conservation market right now that it may seem a bit overwhelming. Don't panic. The following pages of EW will give you a feel for what's happening with LEDs; utility rebates; daylighting systems; EPAct deductions; the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification standards; and some of the green buildings now on the drawing board. Read on.

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