Nancy ClantonDistinguished Engineering Alumni Award

Nancy Clanton is a pioneer in the illumination engineering field. A 1975 CU Boulder graduate in architectural engineering and a registered professional engineer, she is the founder and CEO of Clanton & Associates, a prominent lighting design firm that regularly employs University of Colorado graduates and interns.

Clanton and her team’s work has earned national recognition from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, National Institute of Building Sciences, International Dark-Sky Association, U.S. Green Building Council, American Institute of Architects, and others who have taken note of her deep and consistent dedication to the sustainability of the built environment.

Clanton’s work as lighting leader for the Greening of the White House, Greening of the Pentagon, and Greening of the Grand Canyon National Park are remembered as foundational moments in the history of sustainable design and led to the creation of the U.S. Green Building Council. With more than 30 buildings certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system and 11 buildings named by the AIA Committee on the Environment’s Earth Day Top Ten List, Clanton and her team have set the bar for engineers and designers in the field focused on energy and environment.

Among the greatest impacts that Clanton has made throughout her career is her leadership in developing lighting standards and energy codes with far-reaching and long-lasting changes that have moved the United States toward sustainability and reduced energy use. Her company supports development of energy code and standards such as California’s Title 24 exterior lighting section, the Department of Defense United Facilities Criteria Lighting Guidelines, and the General Service Administrations P100 Design Standards.

Clanton has served on IES, IALD, and ACEC board of directors, including as ACEC Colorado chapter president. She participates on committees with a focus on the quality of the built environment such as the NIBS Low Vision Design Committee, ANSI representative on the international ISO TC205 WG7, and the National Academy of Science’s Committee for the Assessment of Solid-State Lighting. Additionally, Clanton is active in the lighting community and sits on several advisory boards including the WELL Building Institute light advisory group, the USGBC LEED Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group, International Dark Sky Association Policy Committee, and multiple IES committees. She dedicates her time, both during and outside of work, to the field of lighting through these advisory boards, speaking and keynoting at national and international conferences, and mentoring her employees to do the same. 

Clanton has been awarded Fellow designation from the International Association of Lighting Designers, Illuminating Engineering Society, USGBC LEED, and the Rocky Mountain Institute. Her many awards include the Edison Report Lifetime Achievement Award, two IES Presidential Awards, the IES Louis B. Marks Award, IES Distinguished Service Award, and IDA Dark Sky Defender Award.

Aside from her work in design and standards development, Clanton contributes much of her professional and personal time to laying the groundwork for others to do the same. She freely teaches young professionals, students and peers about the importance of lifelong learning and perseverance. Yearly, Clanton lectures at universities around the world including Stanford, Virginia Tech, University of Oregon, CEPT University in Mumbai and the University of Sydney. 

Clanton continually donates her resources, time and energy to the CU Lighting Program. She consistently guest-lectures in lighting classes, speaks at IES student chapter events, and provides support for the CU Solar Decathlon Team. She acts as a mentor for emerging professionals and students and serves as a professional advisory board member for the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering.