Today (and every day) IÃ¯Â¿Â½m asking the question: what should I expect from a Ã¯Â¿Â½sustainableÃ¯Â¿Â½ lighting manufacturer? This is not an abstract Ã¯Â¿Â½ angels-dancing-on-pinhead piece of philosophy; I really mean it. What DO I expect from a sustainable lighting manufacturer.
1. Tell the truth.
If any manufacturer says to me; Ã¯Â¿Â½we operate a 100% sustainable businessÃ¯Â¿Â½ then I know IÃ¯Â¿Â½m being lied to. If youÃ¯Â¿Â½re making things, then youÃ¯Â¿Â½re in a negative relationship with the store of the planetÃ¯Â¿Â½s resources.
I expect a manufacturer to say to me; Ã¯Â¿Â½weÃ¯Â¿Â½re doing our best to reduce the inevitable impact that weÃ¯Â¿Â½re having on the planetÃ¯Â¿Â½s material, energy and human resources.Ã¯Â¿Â½
I also expect a manufacturer to provide honest data on the performance of the fixtures and, hopefully (though probably one for the near future) an Environtmental Product Declaration that confirms the fixture's bona fides.
2. Control the Output.
Lighting is one of those services that just keeps on taking. Every time you switch on a fixture, thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s energy being used, right there. ItÃ¯Â¿Â½s often said (though its not particularly helpful) that the only sustainable lighting fixture is the one that you donÃ¯Â¿Â½t switch on. You might expand that to Ã¯Â¿Â½the one that didnÃ¯Â¿Â½t get made in the first placeÃ¯Â¿Â½.
But if we need lighting fixtures, and we surely do, there are a few ground-rules Ã¯Â¿Â½ a couple of lines in the sand - that we may as well explore.
1. A minimum efficacy for lamp and control gear across the manufacturer's catalogue, based on current legal requirements of things like Building regulations: Part L.
NOTE: leave the luminaire efficacy out of this; itÃ¯Â¿Â½s a different debate.
2. A fixture design philosophy that means that nothing has to end up in landfill; that everything within the fixture can be recycled; that a goodly proportion of the fixture can be re-used as it is, without the need for melting down and re-making.
3. A fixture that is Ã¯Â¿Â½future-proofedÃ¯Â¿Â½ against redundancy (and thatÃ¯Â¿Â½s one for the crystal-ball gazers)
3. Control the Input.
I was once handed a new spotlight fixture. It was made of plastic and it felt like a hair-dryer; but that was because it was made by someone who designed hair-dryers. It was a totally disposable product and a product absolutely of its time.
The ability to satisfy those baseline output requirements means some clever thinking at the creative end of the process. Can we make one component that serves more than one requirement?
Can we design components that are flexible Ã¯Â¿Â½over timeÃ¯Â¿Â½ Ã¯Â¿Â½ that can be used again and again through several iterations of a productÃ¯Â¿Â½s development.
Can we design housings that can be retro-fiited with later generation light sources?
4. Have traceability throughout the process.
The lighting industry buys a lot of its equipment from third-party sources, and there are occasions when those sources donÃ¯Â¿Â½t play by the rules of the game.
Child labour, even slave labour, is being recorded in a number of countries. ItÃ¯Â¿Â½s not a sustainable situation because one day those companies will disappear and leave their (dodgy) customers wondering where their next batch of components will come from Ã¯Â¿Â½ and at what price.
Sustainability means having control over a process that Ã¯Â¿Â½ as far as any of us can foretell Ã¯Â¿Â½ has longevity and stability into the future.
5. Deal honestly and fairly in its sales practices.
Being crooked can bring short-term advantages, but winning contracts via plain brown envelopes to the client/developer/contractor might bring you to a stretch inside and a disqualification on being a director for a few years. That's not a sustainable situation.
Just play fair.
6. Have a programme in place that supports a localism agenda at home.
Like the man almost said; Ã¯Â¿Â½ No lighting manufacturer is an island.Ã¯Â¿Â½ We all rely on the services and resources of the broader community. Working within the community can engage everyone in the sustainability process; it gets more people asking the right kind of questions, like Ã¯Â¿Â½Ã¯Â¿Â½ what should I expect from a Ã¯Â¿Â½sustainableÃ¯Â¿Â½ lighting manufacturer?
And that's it I guess - for now; though I'd be very interested to hear from anyone who would like the list to be developed a bit further.
Greenwashing: a guidline for good behaviour
The elephant box in the room
What Lighting Designers Should be Looking For . . . and Asking For
The Children's Fire
Products That Last - Redux
Products That Last - Review No.3
Products That Last - Review No.2
Products That Last - Review No.1
Products That Last
Talking about Waste - as we were . . .
Sustainability - They Seek it Here, They Seek it There . . .
Sustainability - the core message
The Life and Times of the LED - a series in ten parts
Sustainability: They Seek it Here; They Seek it There . . .
John Bullock writes a regular column for lighting magazines. You can find all of the archived pieces here.
BLOGS - LIGHTING DESIGN
John Bullock writes about all things and anything concerning architectural lighting design; new technologies and old lamps; anything,really.
HOME LIGHTING CONSULTANT
John Bullock designs innovative lighting designs for people's homes. By working closely with clients he is able to deliver solutions that meet - and exceed - their expectations.
BLOGS - CPD RIBA CORE PROGRAMME 2015
John Bullock will be presenting a seminar on latest lighting design and technologies as part of the RIBA CPD Core programme 2015
BLOGS - SUSTAINABILITY
John Bullock believes that the UK lighting industry needs to embrace a sustainable way of delivering good quality product through good design, fabrication and end-of-life management.
BLOGS - LIGHTING HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Lighting has a vital role to play in our health and wellbeing.
CONDUIT (6) - Lighting for Winter Gardens
CONDUIT 5: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (2)
FX Magazine: Lighting Focus - Sustainability (Issue 258)
CONDUIT 4: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (1)
Can Smart Lighting Save The Planet?
CONDUIT 3: Home Lighting - The Bathroom
Can Lighting Save Us From Ourselves . . . NO!
CONDUIT 2: Home Lighting - The Dining Room