GreenLight Alliance: The Greater Good

29th April 2021

In May 2018, LVMH Lighting and Temeloy created ‘Lighting for Good’ (LfG), an eco-design Think Tank, enlisting collaboration from more than 25 lighting suppliers. Its aim is to evolve innovation, services and reliability towards sustainability in the lighting industry. Lucent Lighting was one of these suppliers. 

Acknowledging the energy saving contribution of LEDs to the overall environmental impact of lighting, LfG aims to usher in a new phase of luminaire design concerned with a circular economy. An economy where efficiency in material usage, easier maintenance and plastics removal are the major headings. A LfG charter was written to judge eco-design credentials, with exacting requirements that often exceed the parameters of existing regulations. The principal partner in the writing of this charter was CIRAIG—The International Centre for Life Cycle of Products, Services and Systems. This research group is the centre of expertise on sustainability and life cycle thinking. It brings together the expertise of two universities in Montreal, Canada – Polytechnique Montreal and UQÀM, as well as two universities in Sion, Switzerland – HES-SO and EPFL.

The environmental impact indicators used in the LfG charter are inventoried into a Life Cycle Analysis, a method that quantifies the exchanges between the activities included in a product’s life cycle and the environment, related to the amount of service provided by a luminaire in terms of light output and lifetime. The Ecoinvent v3.6 Lifecycle Inventory Database, released in 2019, was used to generate the trade inventory for a typical fixture. To interpret this inventory, it is converted into environmental indicators, taking into account the potential of each substance concerned to generate an environmental impact. The IMPACT World + method, published in 2019, was used. It involves the calculation of four indicators: 

Human health (considering the effects of climate change, the use of water, and toxic substances that cause respiratory problems, ionising radiation and depletion of the ozone layer)

Quality ecosystems (effects on biodiversity of climate change, marine acidification, water and land use, ecotoxic substances and resultant terrestrial and aquatic acidification, fresh water and marine eutrophication)

Fossil and nuclear energies (use of natural gas, petroleum, coal, uranium)

Mineral resources (use of non-renewable mineral resources)

The packaging criteria were considered mandatory and were not included in the LCA. 

The individual criterion weight is calculated as the average of the percent reduction for the four environmental indicator scores between the baseline LED fixture system (having the worst value for

the criterion indicated in the charter) and the improved system (having the best value for the criterion), divided by the sum of the individual reductions for all criteria for each indicator. The system modelling considers the whole life cycle of the LED fixture, and a global grid mix for the electricity used during the use stage. 

“As a designer I find this new approach to design very interesting. It is not about the technology available, it’s about us changing our habits, our way of thinking, in this process there is a new paradigm possible,” said Treins.

“Lucent Lighting is proud to have been one of the founding participants in Lighting for Good,” added Morris-Jones. “Originally our involvement was based around our ongoing relationship with the LVMH Group and the network developed by Nicolas Martin (Martin is the Sustainable Store Planning Manager for LVMH; a key role in LVMH sustainable policy. He originated the initiative Lighting for Good). However, over the last three years our participation has turned into something far more significant. 

The initiative has allowed us to use a measured framework based on technical attributes, which provide discipline for our designers, engineers and assembly staff: this has indeed been a company- wide effort. It has resulted in new product designs. We decided to test our progress by entering our newly enhanced MiniTRIM Round in the 2019  ‘Lighting For Good’ Awards.

Having made this decision we organised several design workshops with Tiphaine and decided to address three main topics: efficiency, materials and packaging. We applied for each of these different award categories. The design team, under Gary Parsons, Lucent’s Design Director, started extensive research to find the most efficient COB on the market (with a CRI 90+). Once we found it, we began to see that the design process would not increase our costs but it was an efficient way to analyse each component in our downlight. We simplified the design to be plastic free (except COB) and decided to use a ceramic connector. In doing this we managed to reduce the weight of materials from 310grs to 200grs.

The ‘Lighting For Good’ judging panel recognised the efforts made and we won the Award for ‘Best Materials’. However, the packaging part was one of the areas where we had to change the most. We were encouraged to be plastic-free, including tape, and to use bio-ink.

We are lucky to have a great relationship with our packaging supplier who was also investigating more sustainable materials to respond to the world’s growing demands. This enabled us to quickly respond and we changed not just the packaging but the whole process. We discovered that our normal practice of using two boxes to protect our fixtures was unnecessary with the new paper packing materials and different box sizes: less materials and less time to pack.

In 2020, most of the LfG Think Tank’s onging research was about modularity to encourage thinking about circular economy. So, for the LfG Awards in 2020 we decided to submit a prototype based on our TubeLed Mini spotlight series. We developed a ‘plug and play’ LED module with an easy-to-install system. This provided the first steps to creating more modularity and allowing the possibility to re-use or upgrade the light sources in different ranges of fixtures. For this we were rewarded with the 2020 ‘Lighting For Good’ Best Efficacy Award, which provides an efficacy of 117lm/W using only 5.6W of power.

For us this is a key moment in our design process. We are shifting towards implementing further modularity and designing parts that can be used in different fixture types. We now have the understanding that you do not have to compromise the aesthetics in order to incorporate sustainability and environmental awareness.

In conclusion, thanks to Lighting For Good and its Think Tank, we have been able to be innovative while reducing the environmental impacts of our fittings.

This year, Lucent is looking forward to the Think Tank’s next tranche of work: the financial model.” 

Treins picks up on this theme: “LfG knows that there is an ‘Elephant in the room’ that needs to be addressed. If the fittings can be upgraded or re-used, it is essential to find a new economic model that allows suppliers to continue to grow their business. We already know that it is not a leasing model but more B2B services. The scope of services proposed will probably vary from one client to another. This approach will allow suppliers to create a long-term relationship and adjust to the specific needs of their clients, focusing on reducing their environmental impacts. This new model, to be efficient, will need clients/designers/architects/suppliers to work together toward a remarkable transformation of our production systems and our design and construction process.

Wrapping up, the aim of Lighting For Good and our Think Tank has been to foster innovation whist at the same time reducing the environmental impacts of luminaires. We are seeing that proposing luminaires with LfG ratings in tenders is adding value and driving towards our goal.”

Reaction from GreenLight Alliance Members

Mark Ridler, BDP:

“Lighting for Good has much to commend it and its simplicity in output (fair, good, best) makes it something that you could envisage incorporation into other environmental schemes like BREEAM, LEED and WELL and it is great to see the balance between energy, other circular criteria, and quality. There is a danger that it will drive product into a regression toward the mean, for instance, certain beam angles are intrinsically less efficient and yet designers will continue to require a variety of tools in the box. LfG will not be alone in it being more easy to achieve in downlights and spotlights versus linear luminaries for instance, but it certainly challenges product design in a very positive fashion and its good to hear Lucent’s assertion that cost and aesthetics need not be compromised. To maintain a project’s ability to innovate and still keep to circular principles in the majority – it might be an evolution to give a project certification based upon a percentage of LfG product credits.

“To encourage designers to invest the time (and fee) in assessing LfG on a project, we will certainly need manufacturers to engage and readily provide the accreditation information, and so it will become imperative for LfG to grow outside the stable of the 25 early adopters. The LfG charter is open for all manufacturers to use and it will need more to engage if it is to have impact. 

“There are questions too about verification and unscrupulous competition diluting impact, but again this is not unique to LfG. This is a live debate about rigour versus cost of entry and adoption. 

“No walk in the park, “fair” is hard, and “best” is very aspirational. Just as BREEAM evolves its criteria and pegs its “excellent” against a year – so too LfG may need to adopt this to keep the challenge achievable.”

Kevan Shaw, EFLA | Kevan Shaw Lighting Design

“It is encouraging to see initiatives like Lighting for Good emerging especially with both manufacturer and designer-oriented tools. Better still at Think Tank level, I feel there should be more lighting designer involvement as well as manufacturers.

“LfG is a scientific assessment of the different environmental impacts of luminaires. As a designer I want to go further and make a judgement not only on the thoughtful use of materials and energy consumption to make a new product, but on the real durability and options for end of first use. I think we need to get answers to questions such as the design life of a lighting product, how long the manufacturer will provide spare parts and any repair and refurbishment service offered beyond the guarantee period. If a refurbishment service is offered what will be the warranty for the refurbished product? Hopefully LfG will manage not only to capture the environmental impacts of a luminaire but also assess the benefit of circular design.  It will require cross-industry input to engage this discussion to develop creative approaches not bound by existing business models and practices.

“I would echo Mark’s comments about a focus on energy use (45.5% of the rating) driving towards a mean that will disadvantage some more useful products, where necessary optical inefficiencies or phosphor inefficiencies such as those that come with warmer colour temperatures, lower the score of a lighting product.

“LfG have boldly launched their charter before other regulations have been published on the quantification of environmental impacts in products. In future it will need to keep a weather eye on or preferably be in correspondence with the emerging thinking in the Directorate of Energy in the EU and BEIS in the UK. Circular economy factors will be included in the next round of lighting regulations, therefore a degree of coherence is required across all systems and metrics in this area to provide clarity to the market on the importance of specific factors and rating systems. The different organisations must coordinate with each other and ensure there is no chance that a product rates well on one and fails another.”

Tiphaine Treins, Lighting Designer and Founder of Temeloy (left) and James Morris-Jones, International Sales Director, Lucent Lighting (right).