Category: Energy + Environment

The Language of the Circular Economy

Do you wish you knew a little bit more about the circular economy and how it applies to sustainable lighting? The Sustainable Furnishings Council has recently published Circular Design Glossary: Furniture & Furnishings.

Do you wish you knew a little bit more about the circular economy and how it applies to sustainable lighting? The Sustainable Furnishings Council has recently published Circular Design Glossary: Furniture & Furnishings, in collaboration with mebl | Transforming Furniture and Soma studiomilano. The glossary defines and explains 43 different terms from circular economy practice, such as: Biodesign, Biomimicry, Cradle to Cradle, Embedded Impacts, Just Transition, Regenerative Design, Technical Nutrients, and many more.

Every defined term comes with an example from the furniture industry, including several that are from lighting (see examples below). The full glossary document can be downloaded here.


BIOMIMICRY: 25Lamp by Kovac Family draws inspiration from mollusk shell structure to create a design that folds and unfolds, allowing for flat packaging. Through BIOMIMICRY – mimicking nature – the design of the 25Lamp greatly reduces the waste and pollution associated with packing and transporting. Flat packaging results in reduced CO2 emissions by both requiring less space in transport and reducing/eliminating the need for packing materials such as plastic and foam. The 25Lamp – handmade in Sweden from local FSC-certified and reclaimed wood – is shipped with a modest amount of 100% recycled packaging.

 


COMPOSTABLE: The MushLume Lighting Collection by biodesigner Danielle Trofe comprises hanging pendants, tables, and floor lamps. This collection combines hemp with mycelium – the vegetative part of fungi – to “grow lampshades.” Within a few days, mycelium cultivates a thick network of hyphae – long filamentous branches found in fungi – which is then left to solidify within custom lampshade molds. When the mycelium matures, the molds are removed and the lampshades are then dried and heated. This creates a stable, 100% COMPOSTABLE product that can ultimately add nutrients back to the earth.

 

BIODESIGN: The Bacteria Lamp by designer Jan Klingler uses bacteria samples from people, places, or things to preserve memories. The designer explains that every living creature and place has a unique microbiological “fingerprint.” Applying BIODESIGN, Jan Klingler collects a fingerprint, then lets the bacteria grow for 24 – 48 hours. He then seals the microorganisms within a resin to preserve the unique pattern for eternity. While bacteria is usually associated with disease, this collection shows that it can also carry a story of people or places dear to us.

 

 

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German Manufacturer Calls For Design Shift To Delivered Efficacy

A German spotlight manufacturer, ERCO, has issued a public call for the lighting design industry to shift from luminaire efficacy (measured in lumens/Watt) to the “effectiveness of the light in the space” (aka “delivered efficacy,” measured in lux/Watt or foot-candles/Watt).

A German spotlight manufacturer, ERCO, has issued a public call for the lighting design industry to shift from luminaire efficacy (measured in lumens/Watt) to the “effectiveness of the light in the space” (aka “delivered efficacy,” measured in lux/Watt or foot-candles/Watt).

If the lighting design community adopted this approach and metrics, it would begin judging the efficiency of a luminaire by how well it puts light where desired rather than how efficiently it emits light. This isn’t a completely new idea. At the LED chip level, it’s long been promoted that higher lumen density (lumens/light emitting surface) leads to higher “optical control” and higher delivered efficiency. The principle is the same at the luminaire level. This is why there has long been a push for higher output point sources from smaller and smaller emitting areas/sources.

Center beam candle power (CBCP) describes the ability of a luminaire/source to deliver brightness to a location, but it doesn’t describe the efficiency of delivering that brightness. Lx/W (metric system) or fc/W (English units) would describe delivered efficacy of a luminaire.

ERCO is also publicly calling for “a general movement towards the illumination of vertical surfaces over the floor.” This is increasingly being advocated by thought leaders in lighting design, as much work has moved from paper and physical items to digital & vertical computer screens. Of course, as in all things, application matters. ERCO adds, “Historically, walls haven’t been prioritized, although the latest version of the European indoor lighting standard EN 12464-1 now takes it more seriously.”

ERCO further argues that their spotlight uses lower lumen/W, high-powered, small chips that achieve higher lx/W than a COB+reflector combination because the COB+reflector wastes significantly more light.

From the company’s press release:

“ERCO spotlights, by contrast, use lens systems [paired] with single high-powered chips. This tiny but bright point of light is much easier to control into a narrow beam of effective light. ERCO mounts the chips themselves into their own printed circuit boards before pairing them with a bespoke lens design.

Although this construction has nominally lower lm/W values, it brings up to 20 percent more light to the target surface compared to rivals. This means that [designers] who only look at the lm/W values on a luminaire‘s technical data sheet are giving away the potential for sustainable lighting focusing on more light on the target area as well as for energy savings.”

ERCO also points out this can significantly reduce glare, which in many cases is wasted light (spill light). The full ERCO press release can be found here.

Example of lighting walls (vertical plane) rather than floors (horizontal plane).

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Energy Efficiency Tax Deductions Expanded By The Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was signed into law on August 16, 2022. Among the provisions included in this bill is the expansion of the Section 179D tax deduction for building energy efficiency. Thousands of commercial building owners have utilized the 179D tax deduction since its inception in 2005, and this expansion potentially allows for many more to not only utilize the deduction but also claim larger amounts than previously available.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was signed into law on August 16, 2022. Among the provisions included in this bill is the expansion of the Section 179D tax deduction for building energy efficiency. Thousands of commercial building owners have utilized the 179D tax deduction since its inception in 2005, and this expansion potentially allows for many more to not only utilize the deduction but also claim larger amounts than previously available.

Under the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, Section 179D allows for energy efficient investments in new and existing buildings to qualify for immediate tax deductions up to $1.88 per square foot through the 2022 tax year. Eligible projects include those related to interior lighting, HVAC, and building envelope. The 179D deduction was made permanent as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Owners of commercial buildings can utilize the 179D deduction for building projects completed since January 1, 2006. Owners in all major building categories are utilizing the deduction, including warehouse, industrial, retail, office, hospitality, and restaurant chains.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes numerous updates to the 179D deduction, which take effect on January 1, 2023. Notable updates include:

  • Deduction levels up to $5.00 per square foot – the qualified deduction range for projects meeting prevailing wage and apprenticeship standards will be between $2.50 and $5.00 per square foot, depending on the building’s energy efficiency level. For projects that do not meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship standards, the deduction level range will be between $0.50 and $1.00 per square foot.
  • Inclusion of not-for-profits, instrumentalities and Tribal Government buildings – Designers of energy systems in these buildings are now allowed to claim the 179D deduction for qualifying projects.
  • Deduction reset – currently, the maximum 179D deduction can be taken once over the life of the building. With the passage of this new law, the maximum deduction would now be available every three years on a commercial building and every four years on a government, instrumentality, not-for-profit, or Tribal Government building.

With the growth of e-commerce, many new distribution centers / warehouses have been built in the United States. This is an excellent category for large EPAct tax deductions which are based on square footage. Under the IRA a 1 million-square-foot distribution center could qualify for a $5 million tax deduction.

With warehouse lighting projects, facility managers are required to understand which items are picked more frequently. One strategy is to use sensor-controlled digital fixtures and organize the aisles so that the most frequently picked items are all in the same aisles with the easiest access. With this technique, large portions of the warehouse can be kept dark, meaning virtually no lighting-related electric costs are incurred. Such retrofits can qualify for EPAct 179D deductions.

Another category of commercial buildings is hospitals. For the first time effective January 1, 2023, all hospitals can generate 179D tax benefits. For-profit hospitals and government hospitals (for designers) have also been eligible for 179D tax benefits.  Now, the largest hospital category, tax-exempt hospitals, can generate 179D designer benefits.

With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, companies are now positioned to monetize the 179D deduction in a greater capacity than ever before. The increased deduction levels lead to a quicker payback and improved return-on-investment (ROI) for distribution center owners who are considering installing energy efficient equipment. For designers, the deduction can now be used on energy efficient designs for non-profit, instrumentality, and Tribal government buildings. The increase in potential tax savings allows companies to fuel further energy efficient upgrades and improvements.

Read the full article in FacilitiesNet.com here.

 

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US DOE Releases Industrial Sector Decarbonization Agenda

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its “Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap” a comprehensive report identifying four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions in American manufacturing, on September 7, 2022.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its “Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap” a comprehensive report identifying four key pathways to reduce industrial emissions in American manufacturing, on September 7th. The roadmap emphasizes the urgency of dramatically cutting carbon emissions and pollution from the industrial sector and presents a staged research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) agenda for industry and government. DOE also announced a $104 million funding opportunity to advance industrial decarbonization technologies. These announcements are in addition to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law ($62 billion) and the Inflation Reduction Act ($10 billion for clean energy manufacturing tax credits and $5.8 billion for industrial facilities). It also seeks to increase the protection of fenceline communities with new monitoring and screening near industrial facilities.

The industrial sector is among the most difficult to decarbonize. In 2021, the industrial sector accounted for one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, more than the annual emissions of 631 million gasoline-fueled passenger vehicles. DOE’s Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap focuses on five energy-intensive sectors where industrial decarbonization efforts can have the greatest impact. The roadmap outlines a plan with four pathways to reduce emissions across these sectors. These key sectors, iron and steel; cement and concrete; food and beverage; chemical manufacturing; and petroleum refining account for over 50% of the energy-related CO2 emissions in the industrial sector. The four pathways include:

  • Energy efficiency: The most cost-effective option for near-term reductions of greenhouse gas emissions includes smart manufacturing and advanced data analytics to increase energy productivity in manufacturing processes.
  • Industrial electrification: Leveraging advancements in low-carbon electricity from both grid and onsite renewable generation sources will be critical to decarbonization efforts. Examples include electrification of process heat using induction or heat pumps.
  • Low carbon fuels, feedstocks, and energy sources (LCFFES): LCFFES efforts involve substituting low-and no-carbon fuel and feedstocks, including using green hydrogen, biofuels, and bio feedstocks.
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS): CCUS decarbonization efforts include permanent geologic storage as well as developing processes to use captured CO2 to manufacture new materials.Energy efficiency: The most cost-effective option for near-term reductions of greenhouse gas emission includes smart manufacturing and advanced data analytics to increase energy productivity in manufacturing processes.

The roadmap also provides recommendations for RD&D investment opportunities and near- and long-term actions the industry and the government can take to achieve deep decarbonization, including:

  • Advance early-stage RD&D: Further applied science necessary for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
  • Invest in multiple process strategies: Continue parallel pathways of electrification, efficiency, low carbon fuels, CCUS, and alternative approaches.
  • Scale through demonstrations: Support demonstration testbeds to accelerate and de-risk deployment.
  • Address process heating: Most industrial emissions come from fuel combustion for heat.
  • Integrate solutions: Focus on systems impact of carbon reduction technologies on the supply chain.
  • Conduct modeling/systems analyses: Expand the use of lifecycles and techno-economic analyses.

Concept papers are due by 5:00pm ET on October 12, 2022; full applications are due December 20, 2022, by 5:00pm ET. To apply to this FOA, applicants must register with and submit application materials through EERE Exchange.

The full DOE roadmap can be read here.

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As Chinese Heatwave Eases, Power Restrictions On Factories Are Lifted

The southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan downgraded emergency energy supply measures last week, restoring power to some factories after weeks of rolling blackouts due to a heatwave-driven shortage.

The southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan downgraded emergency energy supply measures last week, restoring power to some factories after weeks of rolling blackouts due to a heatwave-driven shortage.

Weeks of record temperatures above 104o F and a crippling drought strained hydropower generators throughout the region. Rain has increased and temperatures moderated, reducing the energy crisis. “Reservoir water levels are gradually increasing, and the power supply capacity has improved,” the Sichuan government announced last week, adding that the power supply crisis had been “alleviated to a certain extent.”

The region is home to major auto manufacturers, including Toyota in Sichuan and Honda in Chongqing, which said they resumed operations Monday. Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn also restarted work at its Sichuan plant, Nikkei reported.

State broadcaster CCTV reported last week that the “general industrial and commercial power consumption in Sichuan province has been fully restored,” adding that energy-intensive industries would resume production once hydropower reservoir levels rose further.

Southern China has recorded its longest continuous period of high temperatures since records began more than 60 years ago, forcing power cuts that have hit the agricultural sector particularly hard.

Power shortages also forced malls in parts of Sichuan and Chongqing to shorten their opening hours, while landscape and subway lighting was switched off, and some households experienced rolling blackouts.

For additional details, read the full MSN article here.

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The Circular Economy Applied To Emergency Lighting

A British emergency lighting manufacturer, Mackwell, shared the following information with LightNOW on how the emergency lighting industry in England is contributing to the evolving circular economy.

A British emergency lighting manufacturer, Mackwell, shared the following information with LightNOW on how the emergency lighting industry in England is contributing to the evolving circular economy. The circular economy is a series of strategies to minimize the carbon footprint of products and buildings through thoughtfully planning the recyclability of components, energy usage, and embedded carbon, including at a product’s end of life.

CIBSE is the British association of building services engineers that promulgate building industry standards analogous to IES standards for lighting. In October of 2021, CIBSE TM66 was published. This technical memorandum is a guidance document on how lighting products – luminaires – should be assessed in terms of their circular economy credentials. It includes a checklist, a method of assessing a product’s circular economy performance, and real-world examples of good practice.

At the same time, the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering (MEP) sector within the construction industry– in which many lighting products are sold – also has CIBSE guidance, TM65. TM65 is a methodology for assessing embodied carbon of products linked to MEP systems. Increasingly, lighting projects are seeing requests to assess products by using this framework.

Other means of assessment exist, such as the ‘cradle to cradle’ methodology. This approach ensures that solutions are designed and produced so that when they reach the end of their lifetime, they can be truly recycled. This means everything is either recycled or biodegradable. By adopting this methodology, the design and production of luminaires should allow for upcycling at the end of their life.

Emergency lighting is currently not well addressed within these methodologies. Emergency luminaries have several unique characteristics that can potentially influence their circular economy credentials and are not currently covered in the guidance. These include:

  • The embodied carbon associated with the choice of battery chemistry
  • Recyclability of different battery chemistries
  • Charging cycle characteristics and different energy consumption levels that are associated with these
  • The efficiency of different types of charging circuitry
  • Modularity in design to allow the re-use of components such as optics, drivers, and luminaire housings
  • Optical designs that allow increased spacings between emergency luminaires to achieve compliance, thereby minimizing the embodied carbon in the total number of emergency luminaires required.

Automatic and remote monitored emergency test systems also exist that can help to avoid unnecessary labor traveling to and from sites to carry out manual tests. This can also help to reduce the embodied carbon associated with emergency lighting installations while at the same time ensuring safety compliance.

Emergency lighting is inherently more complex than standard luminaires. This creates more opportunities to increase the circularity of emergency lighting products, installations, and test systems. Continued product development and evaluation will move the emergency lighting industry toward more sophisticated circular economy solutions.

Thanks to Mackwell for sharing this information with LightNOW readers.

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Clean Energy Technologies Expected To Create Copper Shortages

Recent climate action is going to increase clean energy technology deployment that will significantly increase copper demand.

Lighting typically utilizes copper in:

  • Luminaire wires
  • LED module circuit boards
  • LED drivers
  • Smart lighting controllers
  • Most building electrical wiring

Recent climate action is going to increase clean energy technology deployment that will significantly increase copper demand. A recent article by David Gordon of Channel Marketing Group explores how climate action could impact the copper market.

Copper usage has historically been driven by new building construction in the US and, more recently, China. Copper demand is expected to double in the next 10 years. Electrification climate solutions, such as solar, offshore wind, onshore wind, tidal power, biomass, battery storage, geothermal energy, bioenergy, nuclear power, hydropower, EVs, and the need to improve the grid will spike demand beyond supply, and prices will go up.

 

There is likely to be accelerated research into copper alternatives, including aluminum alloys and graphene. The full article is available here.

 

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What The IRA / Climate Law Can Mean For The Green Building Industry

Last week, President Biden signed the $750 Billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The new law addresses inflation, climate, energy, prescription drug policy, and corporate tax changes. Roughly $370 Billion are focused on combatting climate change, including energy generation and transmission, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and environmental justice. 

Last week, President Biden signed the $750 Billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The new law addresses inflation, climate, energy, prescription drug policy, and corporate tax changes. Roughly $370 Billion are focused on combatting climate change, including energy generation and transmission, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and environmental justice.

Some experts predict the nation’s electricity grid will double in capacity by 2030, largely with renewables. The IRA identified Grid-Enhancing Technologies (GETs) as an important solution for clean energy integration. The law will spur the building of new transmission and maximize the efficiency of the existing grid by implementing GETs.

The IRA reinstates and expands numerous clean energy incentives with an estimated $370 billion of new energy tax credits over the next 10 years. Microgrid development also could gain a tremendous market boost as the legislation includes up to 50 percent in investment tax credits and higher production tax credits for on-site clean power development. Some experts expect the IRA provisions to cut the cost of microgrids by 10 to 50 percent.

On the energy efficiency front, the bill offers tax credits and other incentives for improving the affordability of heat pumps and electrification in the residential and commercial building sectors. Building efficiency upgrades could accelerate lighting upgrades in existing buildings.

The IRA will affect smart building construction and operation in four main areas: energy efficiency, codes and standards, energy financing, and federal investments by the General Services Administration (GSA). The IRA provides many incentives and investments to improve and manage energy use by buildings, to which smart building technology will be key. Though many of its provisions relating to residential buildings, such as tax credits for homeowners to switch to renewable energy, the bill allocates $362 million for a commercial energy efficiency tax deduction. Many think smart building technology will be required as buildings integrate with the future smart grid, renewables, and EV charging infrastructure.

The drive to improve the building code structure began in November 2021 with the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. That bipartisan law allocated $1.2 trillion for infrastructure programs and provided the DOE with $225 million over five years to fund competitive grants for “sustained cost-effective implementation of updated energy codes.” Supported by the International Code Council, the program aims to drive improvement in the implementation of energy codes, as well as water conservation and community resilience efforts. The IRA provides an additional $1 billion over 10 years for efficient building code adoption grants. Raising the bar for performance expectations will likely drive innovation and investment in more sophisticated and advanced building management and automation systems.

To distribute up to $27 billion to clean energy technologies, the IRA sets up a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF). This Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, or green bank, is going to deploy resources in communities that haven’t previously had enough resources deployed in them.

As established in the IRA, the GGRF will give the Environmental Protection Agency administrator authority to disburse $20 billion to eligible recipients, defined as nonprofit green banks that “provide capital, including by leveraging private capital, and other forms of financial assistance for the rapid deployment of low- and zero-emission products, technologies, and services.”

Of this $20 billion allocation, $8 billion would be dedicated to financial and technical assistance for low-income and disadvantaged communities. The provision also designates $7 billion to states, municipalities, and tribal governments to drive local investments in sustainability and efficiency—and smarten up their buildings.

Along with the incentives and funding for the private sector, the federal government plans to invest $250 million through the GSA to convert buildings owned or managed by the agency to high-performance building standards. The impact will be significant due to the sheer size of the GSA, which has an annual operating budget of $33 billion, oversees $66 billion in procurement annually, and manages approximately 8,700 owned and leased buildings. Its large footprint has enabled the GSA to become an influential leader in high-performance building and sustainable design efforts. Funding to improve the operations of GSA building stock will almost certainly involve upgrades in building management and other smart building technologies as part of the agency’s efforts to improve the operations of its significant portfolio.

The IRA helps consumers through a $9 billion home energy rebate program for buying electric home appliances and retrofits. Much of these allocations focus on low-income consumers.

The next decade could accelerate public sector assistance in rooftop solar, electric heating and cooling, and electric water heaters. Individuals who buy used electric vehicles could receive $4,000 in tax credits and $7,500 if they acquire a new EV.

Last year’s $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $65 billion toward electric grid transmission infrastructure upgrades and construction. It also contained a $7.5 billion investment to build out a national network of EV chargers.

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Ready Or Not, Here Comes Climate Action

Significant climate action legislation is occurring at the US Federal level, as well as in Massachusetts and Maryland.

Significant climate action legislation is occurring at the US Federal level, as well as in Massachusetts and Maryland. The US Senate and House passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with $369 Billion in climate action. President Biden just signed it into law on Tuesday, 8/16. The bill will address greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, electric vehicles, carbon sequestration and capture, and more.

In July, Massachusetts passed a sweeping climate bill that includes benchmarking language for buildings over 20,000-square-feet, huge energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals, and incentives for electric vehicles.

In April, Maryland enacted a mandate to end carbon emissions on a net basis economy-wide by mid-century, targeting electricity generation, building heating, and transportation. The package also incorporates environmental-justice provisions. Backers called it one of the country’s most aggressive climate change laws.

The MD Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 contains significant provisions to decarbonize buildings and transportation. Measures to reduce building energy use could likely accelerate LED lighting retrofits.

EV incentives in the Federal, Massachusetts, and Maryland laws will all further spur the EV charger market, which a growing number of lighting manufacturers have jumped into. Last Fall’s Infrastructure Law also contained significant EV charging infrastructure incentives.

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Will Biomimicry Impact The Lighting Industry?

A recent article in Buildings Magazine examines the application of Biomimicry to sustainable products and building interiors.

A recent article in Buildings Magazine examines the application of Biomimicry to sustainable products and building interiors. The Biomimicry Institute—a non-profit cofounded by Janine Benyus and Bryony Schwan—defines biomimicry as: “a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies found in nature to solve human design challenges—and find hope.” The Institute offers a variety of resources and initiatives to support professionals and startups that are trying to utilize the same methods that living systems in nature do. This can help them innovate in sectors that range from construction to agriculture, fashion, energy, chemistry, transportation materials and more.

This begs the question of will biomimicry be applied to lighting. LightNOW has published four articles about bioluminescence (1, 2, 3, 4), which is one example of biomimicry applied to lighting.

What other ways will biomimicry be applied to lighting? New materials? New aesthetic designs, like the irregular carpet pattern, below? Read the full Buildings Magazine article here.

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