Make the switch

The popular push for sustainability continues unabated. The design and construction industry is responding in increasingly sophisticated ways.

COMMENT, Design

The popular push for sustainability continues unabated. The design and construction industry is responding in increasingly sophisticated ways.

While the simple act of recycling paper still counts, we all know there's more to it than that. Furniture and furnishings, from the chairs you sit on, to the carpets you walk on, can all be specified from recyclable options.

Much of this specification is now being done in the quest for LEED certification, which offers formal recognition and benchmarking of a company's green credentials. Most leading interior product manufacturers have options that can help meet LEED requirements, but a more challenging prospect can be the lighting.

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Sustainability and its influence on lighting decisions has grown in importance. In commercial settings, power use figures of between 20-30% can be attributed to lighting. Reducing this figure through the development and application of new technologies is a crucial component in LEED compliance.

While the numbers add up in the end, the up-front costs can shake the will of those not fully convinced of the benefits. LED lighting is frequently hailed as the answer.

It offers considerably longer life spans than other options, lower energy use, less heat dissipation and increasingly few compromises on luminous output. Sensing technology has also evolved to enough to make automated activation a viable option, so lights are only on when there's someone around.

But design can be one thing, implementation another. Manufacturers have taken up the challenge and are producing lighting options to meet new demands. Designers need to convince clients to make the switch to these green solutions.

They also need to check that what they specify is actually installed. It will be better for everyone in the long run.

Stuart Matthews is the senior group editor for ITP Business.

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