UL Environment to develop lighting sustainability standards

A global leader in environmental evaluation and certification, UL Environment has kicked off a standards effort that will help buyers identify and understand sustainable lighting options including LEDs. The agency will address the entire luminaire including reflector, aperture, outer shell, and connection to a power source.

“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average household dedicates 11 percent of its energy budget to lighting,” said Stephen Wenc, president of UL Environment, Inc. “LED modules alone have potential to reduce lighting electricity demand in the U.S. by one third and deliver savings of $265 billion by 2027—but lighting solutions can go beyond energy and cost savings. This effort supports the development of more sustainable options for consumers based on a holistic evaluation of environmental performance in a variety of areas beyond efficiency.”

Indeed UL Environment intends to look beyond energy consumption. The agency plans to base the standards on environmental assessment of the entire life cycle of a product – starting from raw materials following through to manufacture, use, and disposal.

Expect the standards to include minimum environmental requirements that are augmented by a tiered structure that manufacturers can use to highlight their sustainability achievements. “Sustainability is a consideration of growing importance for lighting designers and engineers,” said Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering for the American Lighting Association. “Companies have long embraced energy efficiency as an environmental benefit, but the industry has lacked guidance on how to develop and incorporate a truly sustainable option for lighting. This standards effort will go a long way towards defining the sustainability characteristics of our industry and all the industries that rely on lighting for operations.”

UL Environment is a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) that's dedicated to the development of sustainable products and services through standards development and independent third-party assessment and certification. To develop the standards, the agency will rely on input from its Standard Technical Panels comprised of manufacturers, government entities, non-governmental organizations, and consumer interest groups.

The UL Environment is the second recent story of an entity looking beyond the energy saving aspects of lighting technology. Last month, we reported on an LED streetlight study done by the University of Pittsburgh that included a cradle-to-grave scope.

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