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The IES Illumination Awards program recognizes excellence in the field of lighting design and the use of lighting controls in nonresidential applications throughout the world. Project types range from simple to complex and include creative solutions to both new and traditional challenges.

Projects that receive awards serve as leading indicators of excellence and they prove to be a source of inspiration for architects and the lighting industry. Award recipients recognize this as a critical element in the promotion of their design expertise. As a result, the program raises awareness of the importance of lighting design and controls integration and improves our industry as a whole.

As an Online Judge and industry professional, your service and your approach to the rating process is paramount to the success of the program and value of the awards. The IES Illumination Awards Committee gratefully acknowledges the contribution you are making and we encourage you to incorporate sound judgment as you rate the projects.

It is important to note that the Illumination Awards program is not a competition. Over the long history of the program, a stringent set of criteria has been developed for each award category. Questions are critically tied to the core tenets of lighting and control design. Questions are worded in an open format allowing for the flexibility of perspective needed to appreciate the diversity and beauty in the artistry of our craft.

Projects are to be judged solely against the criteria as outlined on the score sheet. Projects are not to be judged by comparison to other projects.

  • This is a link to the score sheets.
  • The criteria differs for each award type so be sure to refer to the score sheet that relates to the appropriate award.
  • The core requirements of all submissions are:  
    • Written narrative (limited to 300 words by the online submission program)
    • Up to 10 images (photos, sketches or renderings) per entry will be accepted. Multiple images per slide are allowed. Each image will count towards the maximum allotment of 10. Renderings must be identified as such. Images must be in JPEG format and at least 1024px wide and 768px high.
      •  PLEASE NOTE: Fill light is prohibited. Images modified or digitally enhanced are prohibited.
    • 25-word narrative for each image
    • A short video (1-minute maximum) to illustrate the dynamic aspects of the project may be provided, but this is optional and not required. Videos may not include subtitles or sound.
  • To retain the prestige and value of the Illumination Awards program – if the project submission does not meet all of the above core requirements, please reflect this by awarding the minimum point value for all categories and bring this to the attention of the program administrator.

Critical components of the process used to judge a project:

  1. It is up to the judges' discretion to award points based on the criteria described and within the prescribed point range for each question.
  2. Applicants’ answers may be simplistic, but each section in the scoring sheet must be addressed.  If the narrative and images do not address a section, scoring will be at the minimum point value in the given point range. This applies to all topics and questions - for example, lighting, concept, visual comfort, energy and environmental design implementation, etc.
  3. Multiple images on a single slide are discouraged - for example, overview of room, product detail and a chart = 3 images).  If multiple images are grouped together on one page, each image is to be counted as part of the 10 total images. Applications that have more than 10 images should be awarded the minimum point value for all categories.
  4. A chart is considered an image.
  5. Neither fill light nor flash is allowed. Applications with images that are created using fill light or flash are in violation of the rules and the project should be awarded the minimum point value for all categories.
  6. Images that have been digitally enhanced are prohibited. Projects that include images that have been enhanced through digital manipulation should be dismissed.  
  7. Digital renderings that are identified as such are acceptable - if they are accompanied by a photograph of the actual installation, to demonstrate the actual design and installed results.  Each rendering and accompanying photograph will be counted individually.
  8. There should be no mention of a lighting manufacturer, control manufacturer, industry product name, design firm or designer in any aspect of the submission. Any project which mentions any of these items in any image(s) or video will be dismissed. Proper names of places, sites, buildings (i.e., Waldorf Astoria, Verizon, Target) are acceptable. Proper names on signage of a client space or building visible in photos are acceptable. 
  9. The awards are intended to review the success of lighting design and incorporation of controls in application. The program is not intended to examine product design independent of its application.  Submittals that contain only images of lighting products do not conform to the rules and should be awarded the minimum point value for all categories.
  10. Videos are intended to demonstrate dynamic elements of a project such as color changes, dimming or other elements that cannot be adequately shown in 10 static slides.
  11. The video should not include a “slide show” of still images.
  12. If the video contains a computer animation or active digital rendering (walk through), it must be identified as such in the narrative and an equal part of the video must illustrate the actual results of the installed project. The 1-minute max duration and fill light rules apply here as well.
  13. Videos may not contain written or verbal narration and no captions are permitted.
  14. The program has been developed to reduce the likelihood that you will be assigned to judge projects from your geographical area. However, if you were involved with the development of a project you are asked to judge, please do not vote on the project and advise the program administrators so the project can be reassigned to another judge. This serves to maintain the integrity of the judging process and thereby the value of the awards.

On average, we have found that each project requires about 5-10 minutes to judge.

Once you begin the judging process, you may stop and return to the point you left off as long as you complete the judging of your assigned projects before the end date.

It is important that all judges complete their assigned projects. That is the only way to realize the continued success of the program. The scoring values you provide are based on your perception of the project and how well you believe that the designer(s) achieved the stated goals for the project.

The Illumination Awards Committee sincerely appreciates your time and effort.  

Your critique and ideas on the program and judging process are encouraged & will be much appreciated, so please give us your feedback.

Lastly, the quality of our judges is a cornerstone of our program so please recommend peers who you feel would be valuable additions to our judge staff.


Thank you!