John Bullock Lighting Design
John Bullock Lighting Design
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Sustainability and Lighting


The lighting industry is to be congratulated for its response to the global demand for improvements in energy efficiency and carbon reduction - the scientists, engineers, designers, manufacturers and specifiers have all succeeded in improving the technical and aesthetic performance of light sources and luminaires �. but that success has presented its own problem, because it has obscured the wider demands of a Sustainability agenda.

The industry feels it can justifiably hold up its hands and say; 'We've done all of this; what more do you want from us?' An understandable response in the circumstances, but to answer the question ��

Because all the figures tell us that a light fitting uses most energy IN USE and not IN PRODUCTION, the industry has properly gone down the route of making light sources that are more energy-efficient and luminaires that lose less of the light that's available. What we haven't done is to investigate what's going on behind the energy savings.

We're still throwing too much away: the historic 'factory gate paradigm' says that once a product is sold, it becomes someone else's problem. That would be OK if there really was an endless supply of raw materials to keep up production and a bottomless pit into which the old stuff could be tipped. Neither of these conditions exist, and that the old 'factory gate' model needs to be reviewed - and quickly.

We underestimate what is 'waste': there are factors within the current business model that are taken as an essential way of doing things, because that's the way that we've always done them. It's not only the cost of raw materials that is soaring; we're also seeing the cost of the by-products of business soaring away. We can see that there have to be new ways of doing some of the things that we've always thought of as sacrosanct: like the petrol and diesel that's spent in attending face-to-face meetings with customers. Video conferencing might serve just as well. And think of all that time that's no longer 'wasted' behind the wheel.

We underestimate our staff: once this journey starts, we need to have everyone on board, pulling in the same direction. A Sustainability agenda can't be the sole property of the boardroom, its something for the entire workforce. Or to put it another way - it's not a diktat that can be handed down from the boardroom to the workforce. It really does involve everyone.

We underestimate our customers: and in the same way, we want the support of our customers. And we mustn't think that we're the only ones having this conversation; our future business might be dependent upon how we respond to our customers' own Sustainability agendas. Are we 'on-board' to deal with those issues, because you can't build a Sustainable building without Sustainable products - and Sustainable products can only come for a Sustainable company.

We underestimate ourselves: because we think it's too difficult - or too costly - or too 'alternative' to be accepted by others. Well - it might be difficult to get our heads around at the moment and we may need some help to get started, and it might need some careful cost planning and much thinking out of the box - but then we'd just say that we can't see any viable alternative.

Wrap all of this up into a neat bundle and we arrive at a situation that we might call Corporate Sustainability, or what is starting to be known internationally as CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. It's an initiative that has to come from the boardroom, because that's where the power and the will exist to move the company along - to see how awkward changes today can reap generous rewards tomorrow.

RIBA CPD in 2015

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John Bullock Lighting Design
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