Acuity Brands looks to light up the CEA industry

Business Exclusives from Urban Ag News

As the largest commercial lighting and controls company in North America, Acuity Brands is looking to bring innovative products and services to the commercial horticulture sector.

Acuity Brands lighting, sensors, components, and controls products are used throughout North America in almost every major lighting segment including commercial indoor, outdoor, industrial, infrastructure and healthcare applications. The company consists of more than 25 individual lighting and controls brands of which several, such as Lithonia Lighting, date back more than 75 years.

Driving innovative LED technology

According to Jacob Palombo, director of product for horticulture, Acuity Brands has been at the forefront of the transition of LEDs from traditional technology including metal halide and fluorescent light fixtures. 

“Acuity Brands has been designing and developing LED fixtures for over 15 years,” Palombo said. “The company is driving innovation in everything from LED fixture design and performance to advancements in quality and reliability as well as lighting controls.

“Sticking LED diodes onto a board and creating a light is not as simple as it seems. There are a lot of ways it can go wrong. That is why we have spent a great deal of time on how to build a robust system that is reliable and is designed to take advantage of the way LEDs produce light, how to dissipate heat, and how to use optics to control the light.”

Acuity Brands designs all of its own products in various innovation centers in the United States and produces almost all of its products in North America.

“This gives the company the ability to support customers with lower lead times, not having to wait for products to be shipped from overseas,” Palombo said. “We source a handful of plain vanilla products, but our spec and flagship products, the products that we design and produce in-house, are manufactured in North America.”

Illuminating the horticulture sector

Acuity Brands entered the horticulture lighting industry in 2022 with the launch of its Verjure Pro series of LED grow lights.

“Leading up to the launch of the Verjure Pro series, Acuity Brands participated in academic plant research in growing plants with LED lights to develop a science-forward approach in product and spectral development,” Palombo said. “The Verjure Pro series is a versatile platform that supports a wide variety of applications in commercial cultivation for indoor farms and greenhouses.”

Unlike other commercial LED grow lights that require wired controls, Acuity Brands introduced its Verjure Pro series with nLight AIR wireless controls. This scalable wireless controls platform eliminates the need to daisy chain the light fixtures with low voltage wiring.

“With the Verjure Pro series growers can order the lights with a wireless radio that allows all the lights to automatically talk to one another,” Palombo said. “This allows growers to group them and zone them to meet their needs and to give them more control in ways they could not before.”

In its efforts to expand its product offerings in the horticulture sector, especially in commercial greenhouse and vertical farming spaces, Acuity Brands recently acquired the Current Arize series of LED grow lights. These will become part of the Verjure brand. These fixtures are available from Hort Americas, a commercial horticultural supply company in Bedford, Texas.

“Acuity will integrate its wireless controls technology into the Arize products,” Palombo said. “Not having to wire each light manually with low voltage wiring will save growers a lot of labor and installation time. It may also make it easier for the lights to integrate with existing control systems. We are also excited to continue to build upon these platforms to deliver incremental functionality and performance.”

Focused on being sustainable, environmentally conscious

Even with its size and scope, Acuity Brands has not lost sight of its role to be a good steward of the environment and to make a positive impact in the communities where it operates its facilities. The company has initiated its EarthLIGHT strategy which reflects its comprehensive approach around environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

“Acuity Brands declared carbon neutrality in 2021 through a combination of its carbon reduction measures at its operations and offsetting measures,” Palombo said. “The company is focused on minimizing its carbon footprint and helping its customers improve theirs. Part of the company’s strategy is the intersection of technology and sustainability. It’s something we take very seriously and a part of EarthLIGHT is to be good stewards of the environment.

Palombo said EarthLIGHT strongly aligns with controlled environment horticulture.

“Indoor horticulture can be a more effective way of growing plants compared to traditional farming methods by using less water, fertilizer and land while increasing overall yields,” he said. “Indoor horticulture can also provide fresher, cleaner, and healthier food to communities that may not otherwise have access while reducing the carbon footprint for transportation. These are all things that are compatible with EarthLIGHT and are important to us.”

Building partnerships

Even though Acuity Brands is the largest lighting company in North America, Palombo said there are a lot of people in the horticulture sector who aren’t familiar with the company.

“My goal over the next year is to introduce Acuity to the industry and make people aware that it is a well-established company, and one of the true global leaders in lighting,” he said. “Some of the biggest companies in the U.S. from many different industries trust and use Acuity lighting and controls.”

Palombo said Acuity has a track record for performance and delivering a quality product.

“We use quality components and the lights perform in the environments they were designed for,” he said. “We stand behind our products with a warranty backed by a $4 billion publicly-traded company.

“Within the horticulture industry, there are lighting companies that may not be around in five years to stand behind their warranties. Growers in the controlled environment space are looking for products from companies they can trust and partner with. My goal is to make sure growers know Acuity Brands is that company.”

For more: Acuity Brands,
Hort Americas, (469) 532-2383;

This article is property of Urban Ag News and was written by David Kuack, a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas.

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