How Acuity Brands and Hort Americas Are Shaping the Future of Horticultural Lighting

Business Industry News

Ferme Gadbois in Quebec using the Verjure Arize Element L2000. Photo credit: Harnois Industries

The recent partnership between Acuity Brands and Hort Americas marks a new chapter in horticulture lighting, one focused on advancing technology and improving energy efficiency. With Acuity Brands’ acquisition of the Arize® family of horticulture lighting products in January, the company expanded its presence in controlled environment agriculture. 

Jacob Palombo, director of horticulture lighting at Acuity Brands, and Chris Higgins, president and general manager of Hort Americas, are key players in this initiative. The collaboration between both companies aims to bring advanced lighting solutions and new technology to the market, leveraging Acuity Brands’ position as North America’s largest lighting manufacturer.

Q: What motivated Acuity Brands to acquire the Arize® horticulture lighting product line, and how does Hort Americas view its role in this strategic move?

Palombo: Indoor horticulture is firmly aligned with where we want to focus as a company — the intersection of technology and sustainability. Our overarching goal is to use technology to solve problems in light and space (and more things to come), for our customers, communities and our planet. We believe and understand the growing importance of indoor horticulture in today’s world, and the role it plays in our communities. We have a strong focus on sustainability, and using technology to reduce our carbon footprint for both our business and our customers. Indoor horticulture lines up with this in a major way.

We launched our horticulture lighting-focused brand, Verjure, a few years ago, and were always looking to increase our presence and focus in this area at the right time. Acuity Brands believes this was the right opportunity to expand our presence and commitment to the indoor horticulture space

With the addition of these new Arize products into our portfolio, we feel we are well positioned to support every indoor horticulture application. Our next plan will be to leverage our strong focus on innovation, quality, and manufacturing to continue to build upon these platforms, and take performance and reliability to the next level to meet customer needs. 

Higgins: At Hort Americas, we understand the need to scale to compete in the global horticulture LED grow light industry. Therefore, it made sense for us to partner with North Americas’ largest LED light manufacturer. This partnership, combined with the products offered by Acuity Brands, will play a key role in enhancing greenhouse connectivity, especially as AI advances and value increases for additional sensors. 

Also, by leveraging Acuity Brands’ advanced technology, Hort Americas is strengthening its product offerings. At the same time, we’re able to enhance our customer service and support capabilities as the exclusive distributor for Arize® lighting.

Q: How does Acuity Brands anticipate this partnership will impact the horticulture lighting market, and what unique benefits does Hort Americas believe it can offer to customers through this collaboration?

Palombo: We understand how important lighting is in indoor horticulture, and that it is largely the lifeblood of a business. Growers need a lighting partner they can trust, from both a performance and reliability standpoint. They need to be able to trust their lighting company will be around to service their needs and stand behind the products.

Being the largest lighting manufacturer in North America with some of the most-trusted and most recognized brands, we feel we can be that partner of choice. We feel the grower will have peace of mind with a product warranty backed by Acuity Brands. 

We’ve pioneered and been at the forefront of much of the LED lighting technology from the beginning. So we have vast experience when it comes to designing and producing LED products. 

Quality and reliability are at the forefront of everything we do. We have extremely robust design methodologies using decades of experience in LED. We are very selective in the components and suppliers we use. We make use of sophisticated end-of-line testing technology with full traceability in our factories.  Producing much of our portfolio in North America, we can service our customers quickly and reliably, with scale to support any opportunity. 

Higgins: This partnership allows Hort Americas to continue providing top-quality products, backed by a strong warranty that gives growers peace of mind. Together, we’re also capable of scaling quickly and changing to meet market demands. 

From a sustainability perspective, we’re committed to environmental stewardship, which is reflected in Acuity’s EarthLIGHT mission that promotes eco-friendly practices within the horticulture lighting industry. This demonstrates a dedication to sustainability that benefits both growers and the planet.

The initiative is complemented by Hort Americas tailored customer service and extensive industry knowledge. This is especially important as demand grows for more efficient and effective horticulture lighting solutions.

Q: Can you discuss the technological advancements in LED fixtures that Acuity Brands has pioneered and how Hort Americas sees these innovations benefiting the horticulture industry?

Palombo: Part of what we bring to this industry is decades of experience in designing and producing reliable and high-performing LED lighting design, including drivers, optics, electro-mechanical design, light engine design, and controls. Acuity Brands has consistently set the bar for performance, efficacy, and feature sets for lighting in every industry we design products for. These include things like higher efficacy and output, more robust drivers, better thermal management, easier installation, seamless controls, etc. Our intent is to bring that same level of innovation to the horticulture industry and offer the customer a better and differentiated solution.

We are especially excited to extend our vast capabilities in wireless lighting controls to our new portfolio. We offer wireless controls and building management systems that are robust and scalable, and capable of not only controlling the lights, but also creating smarter spaces and integrating with other systems. We think this is a big opportunity to offer additional value to commercial growers.

Higgins: Acuity Brands has been at the forefront of integrating wireless technology and smart space concepts into LED fixtures. The company’s emphasis on reliable, innovative technology aligns with the needs of growers who depend on advanced solutions to optimize growing conditions. 

The advancements in LED fixtures by Acuity Brands — including enhanced efficiency, light quality and control capabilities — benefit growers in ways that can improve plant growth and yield. These are important innovations for driving the industry forward because they enable more precise and sustainable growing practices.

Q: How do your sustainability goals align with the development and distribution of horticulture lighting solutions?

Palombo: EarthLIGHT is a central tenet to our company strategy, and reflects our comprehensive approach around environmental, social, and governance (ESG topics).

 EarthLIGHT is comprised of a number of different areas, including:

  • Focusing on minimizing our carbon footprint, and helping customers improve theirs.
  •  Making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work.
  • Operating with integrity and transparency.

Acuity Brands is 100% carbon neutral through a combination of our carbon reduction measures at our operations and offsetting measures. In FY22, we contributed to 100,000,000 metric tons of carbon avoidance through LED and controls sales.

EarthLIGHT is about being good stewards of the environment, and we feel this is very strongly aligned with indoor horticulture. Indoor horticulture can be a much more effective way of growing plants compared to traditional farming methods, using less water, fertilizer, and land while increasing overall yield. It can provide fresher, cleaner, and healthier food to communities that may not otherwise have access, while reducing the carbon footprint in transportation. These are just some of the aspects of indoor horticulture that are firmly aligned with our EarthLIGHT strategy.

Higgins: Hort Americas will continue to only partner with companies committed to sustainability and transparency, even though the industry continues to debate the concept and value of sustainability. 

The fact remains, there’s strong demand for sustainable solutions in the horticulture industry. Lighting, in particular, is essential to sustainable agricultural practices, underlining the importance of developing solutions that support eco-friendly and efficient growth.

Q: Looking forward, what trends do you predict will emerge in horticulture lighting, and how are you preparing to meet these future demands?

Palombo: We believe the indoor horticulture lighting market will continue to grow and evolve, and technology will lead the way. Lights will continue to become more efficacious, and more optimized for the plants and environment they are designed to serve, and easier to control.

There will be continued advancements and improvement in how the lights and environment are connected and interact. AI will play a role, using multiple sensor and data points for total optimization and predictability. 

We are excited to help lead this transformation, as we feel we are uniquely positioned to drive and lead this change with our Intelligent Spaces Group of Acuity Brands. 

Higgins: There’s growing interest in wireless dimming and integrated sensors. This reflects the industry’s progression toward more sophisticated and adaptable technologies. Advancements such as these signal a move toward more customizable lighting solutions. 

Preparations to meet these evolving demands involve continuous innovation and adaptation to customer expectations. Industry standards are likely to change too. We’re making sure that our offerings stay at the forefront of technology and sustainability in horticulture lighting.

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