lighting and electrical

Green Light

Two traditional lighting manufacturers are producing energy-efficient fixtures while using sustainable factory operations to do it.

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This ca. 1910 inverted dome chandelier, model #HL3170, is one of three available from Remains Lighting of New York City. In addition to the dome illumination, it features eight radiating candle uplights and measures 58 to 69½ ins. tall with a 33½-in. dia. Photo: courtesy of Remains Lighting

By Hadiya Strasberg

Since the mid-19th century, human activities have had a large – and growing – impact on climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases. A December 16, 2007, New York Times article states that since 1850, “humans have raised atmospheric conditions by about one-third over pre-industrial levels.” There are many things that business owners and individuals can do to lessen this adverse impact on the environment and to curb climate change, including reducing waste, using recycled materials and upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and heating and cooling systems. Choosing energy-efficient light bulbs and compatible fixtures can also make a difference. When it comes to two U.S. lighting manufacturers – Rejuvenation of Portland, OR, and Remains Lighting of New York, NY – they have not only produced “green” lighting fixtures, but have also conformed to environmentally friendly manufacturing standards as well.

Defining Green
What is green lighting? The International Association of Lighting Designers recognizes minimizing the use of energy, encouraging environmentally responsible manufacturing processes and materials and optimizing the use of daytime lighting, among other things, as green practices. Other indicators include a high recycled-material content of fixtures, local sourcing of materials, the re-use of antique fixtures, the compatibility of the fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and the use of light controls such as dimmers and motion sensors.

“Green lighting indicates an energy-efficient product that consumes little energy and is long lasting,” says Tony Penca, director of merchandising at Rejuvenation. “At Rejuvenation, we attempt this in many ways, but from a manufacturing standpoint rather than a product one.” Remains Lighting also places importance on the manufacturing process. “If we were to make the claim that we were a green lighting company,” says David Calligeros, who founded the company, “it would be because we buy into a whole-system approach, which includes our manufacturing processes, the materials we use and the life cycle of the product.”

Remains Lighting’s flush-mount lighting fixture Diana, model #HL1677, is made of cast bronze with a leaf-and-dart border. The bent, seeded glass lens is held by a leafy rosette and acorn finial. It has an Edison socket base, which can accommodate compact fluorescent light bulbs. Photo: courtesy of Remains Lighting

Better Bulbs
With a conventional incandescent light bulb – the type invented by Thomas Edison in 1879 and still used today – between 90 and 95 percent of the power used is given off as heat. Because only five to 10 percent of the power is used to illuminate a room, it pays to use better bulbs.

Though both Remains Lighting and Rejuvenation don’t manufacture light bulbs, both companies recommend CFLs and design their fixtures to meet energy-efficiency standards. CFLs, invented in the mid-1970s, use between 11 and 22 watts compared to the 40 to 150 watts that an incandescent bulb uses for the same brightness. On its website, the Environmental Protection Agency says, “If every household in the U.S. [replaced the conventional bulbs in its five most frequently used light fixtures with energy-efficient bulbs], we would prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from nearly 10 million cars.” CFLs also last six to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs and therefore need to be replaced less often.

CFLs are not only one of the most energy-efficient lighting options, they also adapt well to some historically styled and antique fixtures. Today’s CFLs are not those of generations past. “CFLs have been overhauled over the years, and the quality of lighting of some of them is quite good,” says Calligeros. “Not all of them flicker or hum, and they’re available in many different shapes now, not just the spiral that most people recognize.” They also come in a range of colors, such as a cool blue, a warm red and a soft white similar to the color of an incandescent bulb. “The CFL that we sell is very close to a 60-watt soft white,” says Penca. “If you hide the bulb in a fixture, most people can’t tell the difference.”

At 20 ins. tall with a 20-in. dia., the Rebecca inverted dome chandelier from Remains Lighting has a lens of bent white art glass framed in brass ribs, an acorn finial and a beaded border. It has an Edison socket base, which can accommodate compact fluorescent light bulbs. Photo: courtesy of Remains Lighting

However, they don’t complement all historical fixtures. “We’re able to offer almost any fixture with CFL compatibility,” says Penca, “but not all of them make sense. Some sconces, especially those meant to look like they hold candles, don’t make sense with CFLs, even though the technology exists.”

“In fixtures like an inverted dome chandelier, in which the bulb is not visible, we can use a CFL,” adds Calligeros. “Here, the quality of light is more determined by the medium it is passing through, such as alabaster, so it looks fine. But it is a harder sell to recommend the use of CFLs in something like a traditional 12-arm silver-plated chandelier.” Remains Lighting offers a specific range of clip-on-bulb fabric shades that work with CFLs in cases like these.

Lighting manufacturers find themselves in a similar situation when considering the use of light-emitting diodes or LEDs – another energy-efficient lighting source. LEDs use even less energy than CFLs and also have a long lifespan, lasting as many as 11 years. They are also mercury free, something CFLs cannot boast. First invented in 1962, LEDs have been used in many commercial and public applications but are not yet suitable for residential lighting. “Every time we come up with a new product, the question is always, ‘Can we incorporate LEDs in them?’” says Calligeros. “As is, they wouldn’t work for traditional fixtures, but they could work in traditional homes – as picture lighting, for example, because they’re great for intense directional illumination. I think LEDs are the next big thing, but they are cost prohibitive right now.”

Government Involvement
Unlike LEDs, CFLs easily fit into fixtures that accept incandescent bulbs. And to encourage their use, both Remains Lighting and Rejuvenation are manufacturing lighting fixtures that accept only CFLs. These fixtures are in compliance with California legislation – Title 24, Part 6 – which regulates energy efficiency for both residential and non-residential buildings. “All of our fixtures can use CFLs, but some of our fixtures are taken to the next level and comply with Title 24,” says Calligeros. “These fixtures have a socket that accepts only GU-24 light bulbs, a specific type of CFL. It’s impossible to use a different kind of bulb so you can control the consumer.”

One fixture from Rejuvenation that is available for use with incandescent or GU-24 light bulbs is the Foster, model #AB0398. The Colonial-style wall bracket features a burnished antique finish and the Amber shade, model #BA6029. Photo: courtesy of Rejuvenation

A GU-24 light bulb has two bayonets protruding from the screw base, which insert into matching holes in the fixture’s socket. “All of our lighting can take CFLs,” says Penca, “but we weren’t dedicated to it even a few years ago, because it was more important to us that we maintain an authentic period design. Prior to the last year and a half, we were restricted in the fixtures we could offer with CFL compatibility because of the ballast size. Now with GU-24 technology and small, high-output electronic ballasts, we can dedicate more fixtures to GU-24 light bulbs and not compromise our aesthetics.”

Title 24 also sets requirements for control devices, including automatic shut-off controls or motion sensors, automatic daylight controls and multi-level lighting controls or dimmers. “We sell dimmers, which are very important to conserving energy, but they don’t yet work with GU-24 bulbs unfortunately,” says Penca. “I’m sure they will be developed soon, because the lamp manufacturers understand that there is market demand. Remains Lighting isn’t in the business of supplying lighting-control devices, but Calligeros says that he recommends them to his customers. “In terms of energy saving, these may be even more important than the type of bulbs one uses,” he says. “I hope that other states will follow in California’s footsteps.”

And they will have to soon. In 2012, a federal law will go into effect that requires bulbs to use 25 to 30 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, at equal output. CFLs and LEDs are the only bulbs that fit this category at the moment.

Above: The Cheslea, model #AA2080 from Rejuvenation, is shown in antique copper with the Amber shade, model #BA6029. Photo: courtesy of Rejuvenation

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental De-sign (LEED) rating program is another way to reach people in other states. In the LEED rating system for residential properties, a percentage of energy-efficient lighting fixtures and controls is required in certain rooms, especially rooms considered high-traffic areas, such as kitchens, dining and living rooms, bathrooms and halls. In these spaces, a minimum of 50 percent of the total number of fixtures must be energy efficient. In medium- to low-use rooms, such as bedrooms, offices and basements, the percentage of required energy-efficient lighting is reduced to 25 percent.

Included in these calculations of lighting technology are systems such as electronic ballasts, LED exit signs and control strategies similar to those required by Title 24. LEED also offers credit for preventing light pollution. According to the LEED website, this includes outdoor lighting that “obscures the stars and wastes energy.” Daylight harvesting and peak shaving are recommended. “Designing the building to take advantage of natural light is great; you won’t have to rely on artificial lighting as much,” says Calligeros, “though I don’t have any control over that.”

Company Practices
Numerous LEED credits are available for using materials that are salvaged, recycled, renewable or sourced locally. In regards to lighting, the LEED website states, “A little research will reveal manufacturers that promote environmentalism using recycled/recyclable packaging or less toxic production methods. Lighting specifications can stipulate features such as lead-free components and powder paint finishes.”

The Park Avenue, Rejuvenation’s model #AA0062, is a large bowl-shaped chandelier, which lends itself well to the use of CFLs. Photo: courtesy of Rejuvenation

The commitment to sustainability runs throughout the operations of both Rejuvenation and Remains Lighting. The former offers recycled packing materials; the latter offers a small discount for that option.

Rejuvenation also has a sustainability committee to ensure that manufacturing processes are environmentally friendly. “There are a lot of chemicals involved with finishing brass, which we do a lot of, because we want to use historically accurate materials,” says Penca. “But we go to great lengths to make sure that none of those chemicals get into the ground or water systems by using a closed-loop ion exchange system. It treats the water from the antiquing process and extracts heavy metals for safe disposal.” Remains Lighting also uses a closed-loop plating system so there’s no chemical discharge to the municipal water system. Rejuvenation practices what it preaches: “We installed CFLs throughout our own factory,” says Penca. “The little details – like using large containers of salt and pepper in the lunchroom in place of small packets and lending employees bikes to discourage driving – are also important.”

Remains Lighting is in the process of designing a LEED-certified factory in New York. It will have a green roof, a lot of natural light and renewable power sources. In addition, the company purchases electricity from wind credits, and about 95 percent of its materials are sourced in the U.S. “We manufacture locally as much as is feasible,” says Calligeros, “lessening the fuel consumption and pollution produced by transportation. We also try to source high-content-recycled metal, but it can get very complicated. It’s at least better than mining new ore and refining it.”

At Remains Lighting's showrooms, CFL recycling bins are available. “CFLs are highly energy efficient, but if you don’t recycle them, what happens to the mercury?” says Calligeros. “They shouldn’t be discarded in your regular trash. We attempt to manufacture our lighting fixtures with as light a footprint as possible.”

Some people are taking note at the efforts of these companies. “California is obviously a huge market, because of Title 24,” says Penca. “But we recently promoted an energy-efficient product and got a great response from all over the U.S. There is a stronger acceptance than I anticipated.”

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