Lighting - Sustainable lighting: the next step

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Is the worldwide emphasis on the conservation of energy and raw materials actually leading to a better-lit environment?


According to Lou Bedocs three ‘drivers’ will heavily impact on future lighting practice: energy efficiency and the impending European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD); environmental directives over and above those we have today (RoHS and WEEE), and eco-design in its many parts in the Ecodesign requirements for Energy-Using Products Directive (EuP). “The biggest impacts will be from environmental and sustainable developments,” he says. “This is all about efficient design, raw materials, recycling, waste management and take back. The WEEE directive will be implemented on 1st July, and the EuP directive later this year will lead to new materials, practices and tasks.”

Bedocs is concerned about energy efficiency. Not its necessity, but the repercussions it could have on loss of lighting comfort and quality, because people will be tempted to meet efficiency criteria at the expense of reduced comfort. A classic example is the local authority that is planning to achieve the energy efficiency targets by simply switching off the streetlights. “Our biggest task in future years will be defending our hard fought lighting needs in this environmental/energy constraining world And it’s going to be important, because if the rate of increase in energy costs continues at 10 per cent a year then obviously we need more and more efficient and reliable electric lighting solutions or we will have to change our way of working and way of life because daylight is only available at certain times.”

According to Bedocs, the answer is not to shut everything down, but to campaign for efficient use of energy rather than reduction, and second, rather than being frivolous about the criteria, to focus on appropriateness. “This will change the outlook in lighting scheme design.” Task-orientated lighting requires different optics, different light-package sizes, distributions and, above all, a different philosophy in application design. “Interestingly, we have moved from local to generalised lighting over the past 100 years and now we’re moving back.”

Bedocs argues lighting is the single most important aspect of the environment because of its immediate impact on people. Some 80% of the signals our brain processes are received through our eyes. It is now known there is an extra detector in our head that receives signals via the eye and controls our body clock. “Clearly people, wherever they are, need good lighting for visibility and the right light for wellness. Furthermore, the responsiveness to the space and people’s reactions must not be overlooked, which is why I believe in Thorn’s PEC – Performance, Efficiency and Comfort programme so strongly,” he says.

“We have achieved the task of visibility through adequate illumination and we have the knowledge to balance the brightness in the space. Our next step needs to be to provide a sustainable stimulating visual environment with effective controls that will satisfy our physiological and psychological needs at work, at play or even when driving home.”

Lou Bedocs is lighting applications director at Thorn Lighting, based in Spennymoor, County Durham.