Category: Energy + Environment

Could Sustainable Lighting Product Regulations Be Coming to North America?

Industry discussions about sustainable lighting are increasing, but what would sustainable product regulations look like? The European Union (EU) is far ahead of North America on sustainable product regulations, and a look at what the EU is doing gives one vision of where sustainable product regulations could go in North America.

Industry discussions about sustainable lighting are increasing for a variety of reasons:

  • NAILD’s recent open letter calling for more sustainable LED lighting products. Details here.
  • Vermont’s first-in-the-nation ban on all 4’ linear fluorescent lamps, based on mercury, not energy efficiency. Details here.

But what would sustainable product regulations look like? The European Union (EU) is far ahead of North America on sustainable product regulations, and a look at what the EU is doing gives one vision of where sustainable product regulations could go in North America. Here is a synopsis of the EU approach, from the National Law Review, in April:

At the end of March, the European Commission (Commission) presented the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI) as part of a ‘Circular Economy Package I’, and proposals for a new directive empowering consumers for the green transition, and a new Construction Products Regulation.

The Commission aims at “making sustainable products the norm” and reducing negative life cycle environmental impacts of products, while benefitting from efficient digital solutions, by setting a framework for Ecodesign requirements, creating an EU digital product passport and tackling the destruction of unsold consumer products.

In particular, the SPI includes the proposal for an Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), which would repeal the current Ecodesign Directive 2009/125. It establishes a horizontal framework and broadens the scope of the Ecodesign Directive beyond energy-related products, i.e. beyond any product that has an impact on energy consumption during use. The new Regulation would apply to all physical goods, including components and intermediate products, except food, feed, medicinal and veterinary products, living plants and animals, and products of human origin. According to the Commission’s explanatory memorandum, the ESPR is meant to address products that are not covered by existing legislation or where that legislation does not sufficiently address sustainability, and Ecodesign requirements in the delegated acts that it will adopt cannot supersede requirements set in legislative acts (of the Council and European Parliament).

The proposed regulation provides a framework for the Commission to adopt delegated acts with specific requirements for a product or group of products, following the approach of the current Ecodesign Directive. It would task the Commission with adopting a Working Plan with a list of products for which it plans to adopt such delegated acts, covering at least three years, thus providing some predictability. The Commission would have to prioritise products based on their potential contribution to the EU climate, environmental and energy objectives, and for improving the product aspects without disproportionate costs to the public and economic operators. The Commission stated that it has preliminarily identified textiles, furniture, mattresses, tires, detergents, paints, lubricants and intermediate products like iron, steel or aluminium as suitable candidates for the first ESPR Working Plan. It expects to prepare and adopt up to 18 new delegated acts between 2024 and 2027 and 12 new delegated acts between 2028 and 2030. In its proposal, the Commission foresees budget implications, as it would need significantly more staff to implement the Ecodesign framework. It estimates that it will have to increase its dedicated staff from currently 14 to 44 in 2023 and up to 54 in 2027.

For anyone who thinks that EU sustainable product regulations could never cross the Atlantic, remember that California modeled its 2017 RoHS regulations on EU RoHS regulations. It’s certainly plausible that legislatures in California, Vermont, Canada, and other progressive state governments could introduce aspects of the new EU scheme. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Comments Off on Could Sustainable Lighting Product Regulations Be Coming to North America?

Will Electric Vehicle Charging Change The Energy Efficiency Game?

Disruptive lighting technology consultant Peter Brown, recently wrote an interesting article in US Lighting Trends, about the potential of EV chargers to change the energy efficient buildings industry.

Disruptive lighting technology consultant Peter Brown, recently wrote an interesting article in US Lighting Trends, about the potential of EV chargers to change the energy efficient buildings industry. He shares a real-world scenario of a commercial building wanting to install 50 EV chargers in the parking lot or garage, but the electricity demand would require roughly $1 million dollars of additional electricity supply infrastructure.

The article explains that this type of scenario could be a game changer for deep energy efficiency building retrofits. Instead of paying the $1 Million for additional electricity supply, the building owner could invest a fraction of that amount in deep building energy efficiency retrofits to reduce electricity demand in the building. The ROI for the retrofits then goes beyond the energy saving ROI, to include the very large avoided costs for new supply-side infrastructure.

You can read the full article here.

Comments Off on Will Electric Vehicle Charging Change The Energy Efficiency Game?

Vermont First State To Ban 4’ Fluorescent Tubes, But Probably Not The Last

Vermont is the first state in the U.S. to ban 4′ fluorescent linear lamps.

On May 19, 2022, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed H.500 into law, making Vermont the first state in the US to ban all four-foot linear fluorescent lamps. The bill will go into effect January 1, 2024, complemented by an existing law  to phase out all screw-based compact linear fluorescents beginning February 17, 2023.

Taken together, these two policy actions will remove well over 90% of the fluorescent lighting products from the Vermont market, by January 1, 2024, saving Vermont residents $167 million in reduced utility bills by 2040, and cutting 1,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

Vermont is the first state to ban all 4’ fluorescent tubes, but probably not the last. California has produced a similar bill that is awaiting approval. Learn more about efforts in California here.

Comments Off on Vermont First State To Ban 4’ Fluorescent Tubes, But Probably Not The Last

NAILD & Its Sustainable Lighting Committee Issue Open Letter About Integrated LED Luminaires

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and its sustainable lighting committee recently published an open letter, detailing a list of concerns with integrated LED luminaires and a set of recommendations for the industry.

The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and its sustainable lighting committee recently published an open letter, detailing a list of concerns with integrated LED luminaires and a set of recommendations for the industry. NAILD is a trade association for the lighting distributor channel. The letter explains the negative life cycle/waste consequences of integrated LED luminaires, and proposes 5 changes that the industry should adopt:

  1. Re-commitment to legacy form factors, lamp shades, and sockets
  2. Standardize new components before they go to market
  3. Commit to more sustainable materials
  4. Long-term product support
  5. Useful, transparent labeling

While NAILD operates primarily in the commercial lighting market, it is interesting to note that the American Lighting Association (ALA – operates in the residential & resimercial markets) published a white paper, last year, detailing the design trade-offs of integrated LED versus socketed luminaires. That white paper also addressed sustainability trade-offs.

A significant difference between the ALA white paper and this NAILD open letter is that NAILD is advocating a complete return to lamped luminaires or fully standardized replaceable light engines, and complete elimination of integrated luminaires with unreplaceable engines. This is a rather extreme position that was never the stance of the ALA Engineering Committee team that wrote the white paper.

As one example, the ALA white paper notes the improved thermal management capabilities of integrated LED luminaires that can lead to significantly longer LED engine lifetimes than comparable lamps typically achieve. This then becomes a trade-off of increased light source waste versus increased luminaire waste. Not as black & white an issue as NAILD portrays it. Additionally, luminaires with minimal housings and easy replacement might be fine to replace every 5-10 years, such as flushmount LED downlights. Eliminating all integrated LED luminaires without easily changeable engines would also create a major obstacle to innovation.

It will be interesting to see if and how the industry responds to this open letter from NAILD. To its credit, NAILD is raising some real problems with some integrated LED luminaires. The full NAILD open letter can be found here. The ALA white paper on integrated LED versus socketed luminaires is available here.

Comments Off on NAILD & Its Sustainable Lighting Committee Issue Open Letter About Integrated LED Luminaires

The Urgent Need For Resilient Lighting

Resilient lighting can survive and operate during and after natural and man-made disasters. Don’t confuse “resilient lighting” with 90-minute emergency lighting, which is designed to get people out of buildings. Resilient lighting is designed to operate for days – or even weeks – after disasters and is part of a larger Resilient Buildings trend.

I originally published this article in US Lighting Trends, in May 2022. It is republished here with permission.

A scan of recent news headlines reveals the need for lighting that can operate in dire environmental conditions. Last month’s wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona and last week’s “tornado outbreak sequence” that devastated parts of Texas and Oklahoma are just recent examples of why resilient lighting has become an important topic.

Resilient lighting can survive and operate during and after natural and man-made disasters. Don’t confuse “resilient lighting” with 90-minute emergency lighting, which is designed to get people out of buildings. Resilient lighting is designed to operate for days – or even weeks – after disasters and is part of a larger Resilient Buildings trend. The Resilient Buildings market is projected to grow from $82.4 billion in 2020 to $124.8 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7% during that period.

The biggest driver in developing resilient buildings is climate change. More specifically:

  • Extreme heat events can spike A/C usage and overwhelm power grids.
  • Extreme cold can cripple power grids in the South.
  • Worsening hurricanes are the most common large-scale power disruption, especially in the Southeast.
  • Coastal and other flooding take out power.
  • Wildfires disrupt power.
  • Tornadoes and other high wind events cripple electrical service.
  • Even drought can threaten hydropower, which has happened in Brazil and is a significant concern in the Pacific Northwest.

The frequency and severity of climate change disasters are both increasing. In February 2021, record low temperatures and record-high snowfalls in Texas caused widespread power outages. More than 4.5 million people lost power, some for longer than a week. More than 150 people died as a result, and the price tag for this disaster is estimated at around $100 billion. In 2020, there were 22 separate billion-dollar disasters, shattering the previous record of 16, according to data from the National Centers for Environmental Information. These included wildfires, extreme storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, and even a derecho (a sustained high wind event), which in August 2020, caused more than $11 billion in damage across the Midwest.

So, what does resilient lighting look like? Resilient lighting strategies can include:

  • Whole building backup power systems, both generators & battery storage systems
  • Solar outdoor luminaires, both off-grid and hybrid-on-grid models
  • Placing electrical conduit and luminaires above the level of the flood plane
  • Portable rechargeable lanterns are popular today for recreational purposes but may evolve into resilient residential lighting. Imagine solar & battery-powered wall lanterns that are removable from the wall for use indoors and outside.

The commercial solar outdoor luminaire market has been growing for years and overlaps with the resilient lighting trend. Dramatic improvements in solar cell, battery, and control technologies have all been simultaneous with enormous LED improvements over the past 10 years. This now enables some solar lights to operate for days on a single day of charging. Sophisticated controls and timers further extend luminaire operating time.

Solar area lights have done well in areas that are difficult or expensive to run power:

  • Parks
  • Bike paths
  • Areas with attractive landscaping, to prevent damage
  • Avoiding trenching, cabling, and electricity costs
  • Can be used for portable disaster response lighting

While most solar area lights are off-grid, there are new hybrid solar-grid-connected luminaires that qualify for utility rebates, plus they can reduce liability from off-grid battery depletion.

A variety of building certification programs are helping to drive resilient buildings & lighting. These include:

  • LEED
  • Living Building Challenge
  • RELi
  • WELL Building Standard
  • US Resiliency Council Earthquake Building Rating System

Late last year, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) published a new Lighting Practice, called LP-13, Introduction to Resilient Lighting Systems. “The purpose of this document is to introduce the concept of resilient lighting design – the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events – and explain how lighting systems can support the goals of enhancing the resilience of buildings. The intent is to provide guidance on lighting performance, controls, and the characteristics of lighting equipment for resilient buildings.”

1 Comment on The Urgent Need For Resilient Lighting

Lights Out Programs Continue To Spread Across North America

The FLAP program in Toronto was the first to raise awareness of the problem lights pose for birds in an urban center, starting in 1993. In 1999, Audubon and its partners established the first Lights Out program in Chicago. Since then, groups in many other cities have organized programs to make a difference for birds

The FLAP program in Toronto was the first to raise awareness of the problem lights pose for birds in an urban center, starting in 1993. In 1999, Audubon and partners established the first Lights Out program in Chicago. Since then, groups in many other cities have organized programs to make a difference for birds. See the list below or explore the map of the Lights Out network.

State-wide and Regional Lights Out Programs

  • Colorado – Lights Out Colorado – Audubon Rockies, IDA Colorado
  • Connecticut – Lights Out Connecticut – CT Ornithological Association, Audubon Connecticut, Menunkatuck Audubon
  • Georgia – Lights Out Georgia – Georgia Audubon Society
  • New York – Lights Out New York. There is also a Hudson Valley, NY Lights Out.
  • Texas – Lights Out Texas – Audubon Texas, Texan by Nature, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Texas Conservation Alliance, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, Texas A&M University, Houston Audubon, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Nature Trackers, Colorado State University, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Lights Out Heartland
    • Arkansas – Missouri Chapter – International Dark-Sky Association, Arkansas Natural Sky Association
    • Iowa – Missouri Chapter – International Dark-Sky Association, Green Iowa AmeriCorps
    • Kansas – Missouri Chapter – International Dark-Sky Association, Johnson County Community College
    • Missouri – Riverlands Audubon Center, St. Louis Audubon Society, Burroughs Audubon Society, Columbia Audubon Society, Greater Ozarks Audubon Society, Dark Sky MO, Gateway Arch National Park Missouri, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri River Bird Observatory, Missouri Sierra Club, Saint Louis Zoo, St. Charles County Parks, St. Louis Arts Chamber of Commerce, Wildlife Rescue Center.
Comments Off on Lights Out Programs Continue To Spread Across North America

Product Monday: Glowee’s Bioluminescent Sea Bacteria Lights

Many articles have written about the potential of using bioluminescence to light cities, but a French start-up, Glowee, is actually producing lights using bioluminescence and installing them.

Many articles have written about the potential of using bioluminescence to light cities, but a French start-up, Glowee, is actually producing lights using bioluminescence and installing them. Glowee’s lights emit a turquoise blue light utilizing a marine bacterium gathered off the coast of France called Aliivibrio fischeri. The bacteria are stored inside saltwater-filled tubes, allowing them to circulate in a kind of luminous aquarium. Since the light is generated through internal biochemical processes that are part of the organism’s normal metabolism, running it requires almost no energy other than that needed to produce the food the bacteria consume. A mix of basic nutrients is added and air is pumped through the water to provide oxygen. To “turn off the lights”, the air is simply cut off, halting the process by sending the bacteria into an anaerobic state where it does not produce bioluminescence.\

While Glowee’s lights are currently only available in standard tubes for events, the company is planning to produce several types of street furniture, such as outdoor benches with in-built lighting, soon.

Read the full article here.

Comments Off on Product Monday: Glowee’s Bioluminescent Sea Bacteria Lights

New DLC Whitepaper On Non-White Light Sources For Outdoors

There is growing scientific evidence that LED outdoor white light at night is devastating global insect and bird populations, in addition to potential negative human health impacts. A possible solution is to move back to non-white lighting, such as phosphor-converted amber and direct emission amber LED sources, outdoors.

There is growing scientific evidence that LED outdoor white light at night is devastating global insect and bird populations, in addition to potential negative human health impacts. A possible solution is to move back to non-white lighting, such as phosphor-converted amber and direct emission amber LED sources, outdoors.

The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) recently introduced the first version of its LUNA Technical Requirements. The policy offers a streamlined way to identify and select LED products that meet the efficacy thresholds necessary for inclusion on the DLC’s Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Qualified Products List (QPL) while also limiting sky glow and light trespass and helping to mitigate light pollution. LUNA sets performance requirements for specific categories of outdoor LED fixtures so that municipalities, energy efficiency programs, and other outdoor lighting decision-makers can better support their energy reduction goals and abide by dark sky policies and ordinances. LUNA will also help specifiers to fulfill the light pollution and trespass requirements of LEED and WELL building programs, and help projects follow application guidance in the joint International Dark Sky Association-Illuminating Engineering Society Model Lighting Ordinance.

A subset of the DLC’s SSL Technical Requirements, the LUNA V1.0 Technical Requirements apply only to white light LED outdoor products with correlated color temperatures (CCT) between 2200K and 3000K, and do not include non-white light (NWL) LED luminaires deemed appropriate for settings such as environmentally sensitive wildlife areas. During development and implementation of the first iteration of LUNA V1.0, stakeholders asked the DLC to consider allowing NWL LED sources, such as phosphor-converted- (pc-) amber and direct emission (de-) amber products, to be eligible for LUNA qualification.

This whitepaper provides an overview of the state of the science and current recommendations for NWL light sources in outdoor lighting applications, as well as why the DLC is not addressing NWL LED luminaires in LUNA, at this time. The paper suggests the next steps to address gaps in existing research, standards, and guidelines that would make qualification feasible in the future.

Download the full whitepaper here.

 

 

Comments Off on New DLC Whitepaper On Non-White Light Sources For Outdoors

Health and Wellness Strategies Complement Resilience & Sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how important focusing on health and wellness is (and will be) for facility managers and construction professionals. A new report from the Urban Land Institute titled “Greening Buildings for Healthier People” examines all the ways resilience, health and wellness, and sustainability match up.

A recent FacilitiesNet.com article discusses the opportunities to synergistically address sustainability, health, and resilience in buildings, at the same time. The COVID-19 pandemic showed just how important focusing on health and wellness is (and will be) for facility managers and construction professionals. A new report from the Urban Land Institute titled “Greening Buildings for Healthier People” examines all the ways resilience, health and wellness, and sustainability match up. “More and more, real estate sustainability directors view health and the environment not only as important priorities but also as two sides of the same coin,” says the report.

The report, which is available as a free download, gives step-by-step advice on the specific strategies facility managers can employ to combine sustainability, resilience, and health and wellness. One of the biggest benefits of doing so is financial, the report says. Showing how strategies can mitigate risk, benefit the bottom line, and improve employee health and morale can massively improve the financial justification case for facility elements that may have a higher first cost than the status quo.

Read the full article here.

Comments Off on Health and Wellness Strategies Complement Resilience & Sustainability

Interview: The Circular Economy For Lighting

The GreenLight Alliance (GLA) is a non-profit organization with leadership across Europe and North America, dedicated to applying circular economy principles to the lighting industry, targeting specifiers to drive change. I interviewed Emilio Hernandez, Chair of the GreenLight Alliance about the GLA’s goals and strategies.

The GreenLight Alliance (GLA) is a non-profit organization with leadership across Europe and North America, dedicated to applying circular economy principles to the lighting industry, targeting specifiers to drive change. I interviewed Emilio Hernandez, Chair of the GreenLight Alliance about the GLA’s goals and strategies.

Shiller: The Green Light Alliance (GLA) mission seems straightforward, to promote circular economy practices in the lighting industry, especially among specifiers. What actions is GLA taking to make that happen? That’s less clear on the GLA website .

Hernandez: That’s an excellent question. We’re approaching this from several angles. A key aspect is education and awareness. People can follow GLA and receive newsletters and invitations to discussions on circular topics and webinars from industry bodies and manufacturers who are pushing the dialogue on the subject forward.

But our main role is to build a trusted network and facilitate a dialogue between people across the industry.

Shiller: The Information Hub that GLA has built on the website is very interesting. There appear to be 11 documents, standards, and white papers about applying circular economy and sustainability principles to the lighting industry. Is it correct to say that most of these documents appear to be European efforts, rather than North American efforts, to-date? 

Hernandez: This is true, you need to start somewhere and we are relatively new in terms of our existence. We’re trying hard to reach out and have ambassadors in the US and are more than open to other regions, too. We have already found a lot of benefits to opening up the dialogue. To better understand different challenges, we collaborate on initiatives to further our reach, and concentrate the efforts that are happening.

Shiller: Are there any significant North American efforts to apply circular economy principles to the lighting industry, that you’re aware of? 

Hernandez: I’m not aware of any significant lighting focused circular economy initiatives in North America (but happy to be proven wrong!) However, there is a growing requirement for Life Cycle Analysis (LCA’s) and environmental product declarations (EPD’s), in construction. New York’s NYSERDA and California’s Title 24, for example, are bringing in requirements on a state level, and LEED is offering credits for building materials with EPD’s, or materials that use ‘healthy’ materials.

LCA’s are an important way of measuring a business’s efforts to improve the embodied and emitted carbon within a product’s lifetime, hence the LCA incubator that we are partnering on with the IALD Lighting Industry Resource Council (LIRC). This has participating manufacturers from the US who are really interested in developing these principles as part of their business model. StickBulb and Lumenwerx, for example, were very quick to be part of this discussion, and PNNL has also been a helpful partner on the project.

Shiller: As you are based in Sweden, do you see Europe leading this effort, globally?

Hernandez: There are currently financial incentives to migrate over to circular business models in Europe, via subsidies as part of the EU Green Deal, which is the ‘economy’ part of the circular economy. Good intentions will only take this so far, so it needs to be economically viable. We’re aware of manufacturers’ concerns over the uncertainty of costs associated with decoupling from linear business models and producing EPD’s. It can be an expensive process so we’re trying to understand how this can be achieved in lighting quickly, reliably, and affordably.

Shiller: The GLA website has a case study page with 9 case studies listed. Do you have a favorite case study among those nine, that best shows what’s possible in bringing the circular economy to lighting?

Hernandez: The best thing about them is that they all have different insights into approaches to circularity. This migration to circular design isn’t a straight line process. There are legacy products on the market which can be innovatively remanufactured, and there are approaches to new fixture design or specification that will yield benefits at the end of their designed life. However, something we are trying to help people understand is that a low embodied carbon product, that is majority recycled or disposed of at the end of its first life is not really circular, it’s just a lightweight linear economy.

Shiller: If any LightNOW readers find this subject interesting (almost half of LightNOW readers are lighting specifiers), what are some ways that they could get more involved in GLA and its mission (i.e. join GLA, subscribe to GLA, other?)

Hernandez: Please get in touch with us directly if you have a specific need or would like to be a more involved community member at info@greenlight-alliance.com, and subscribe via the website and you’ll receive a newsletter with updates, periodically. Our LinkedIn community is useful for up to date sharing of webinars and articles, and they can all be found here.

Shiller: Thank you for sharing your expertise, Emilio.

Comments Off on Interview: The Circular Economy For Lighting

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search