COMMENTARY: Top lighting trend — It’s not what you think

Nov. 30, 2023
CARRIE MEADOWS zeroes in on a single concept with wide applicability across the LED and lighting industry, informing an annual assessment of what’s to come.

Recently I realized that I engage in gratifying discussions that never make their way into the magazine or website pages for LEDs Magazine — thought-provoking conversation but not in the form of an interview or responses to inform a news analysis. So if I am making a resolution for 2024, it will be to find ways to leverage those discussions into various content development opportunities — potentially reader polls, webinars, feature articles, or even columns like this one.

There were occasions this year on which I was asked for an informal opinion about application trends, emerging technologies, LED markets, and industry events. While no one can know absolutely, if I were pressed to identify one concept or term that described a developing trend, I would say “stewardship,” or meaningful action powered by principles for a broadly beneficial outcome.

What actions or initiatives contribute toward stewardship in the LED and lighting supply, manufacturing, and design chain, though? A few things come to mind: materials transparency, design for disassembly, remanufacturing, respect for dark skies, making decarbonization opportunities more economically accessible, and incorporating equity into the workplace.

This past year, we’ve heard from product developers about how the lighting industry can reduce waste and supply-chain bottlenecks while enabling a luminaire serviceability model that secures future business; from lighting designers on how to instill a sense of social responsibility into projects and business practices; and from policy advocates on maintaining a clear path for phasing out mercury-containing lighting products. Years ago, there was some general discussion amongst various industries and technology leaders about being able to prioritize sustainability or profitability, but the undercurrent was that you couldn’t have both. I think the linked content suggests that is no longer a widely held belief, at least in the lighting sector.

By now, we have all heard or read over and over that the coronavirus pandemic changed industry approaches and business strategies out of necessity due to constrained human and conveyance resources. One shift worth repeating is that those who embrace the opportunity to streamline their product development and inventory strategies, logistics, and sales and service models; pay close attention to what their customers want; and proactively inform their roadmaps with energy and environmental policy should continue to gain traction and grow to their fiscal projections.

I’m not clairvoyant. But I think we’re on track to see more of this in 2024, and can approach the new year with a sense of renewed optimism and determination.

CARRIE MEADOWS is editor-in-chief of LEDs Magazine, with 20-plus years’ experience in business-to-business publishing across technology markets including solid-state technology manufacturing, fiberoptic communications, machine vision, lasers and photonics, and LEDs and lighting.

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