Selling Lighting by the Metric Ton of Carbon
LED lighting outfit thinks builders will be turned on by greenhouse-gas reduction more than by wattage savings
17 August 2007—Carbon dioxide has become the latest marketing tool for manufacturers of energy-efficient lighting. Westampton, N.J.based Lamina, a venture-backed LED lighting maker, has recently started quantifying the benefits of its technology not just in traditional terms of power usage (watts) but rather in the amount of carbon dioxide emissions produced to power an LED light versus an incandescent light. The appeal of measuring energy-efficiency in terms of CO 2 emissions is that the environmental impact of various technologies can be easily compared, says Frank M. Shinneman, president and CEO of Lamina. In addition, the growing awareness of CO 2 as a greenhouse gas makes it an accessible and intuitive unit of measurement for builders and building operators wanting to show off their green credentials.
Lamina’s recently released SoL MR16 LED, which gives off light equivalent to that of a 20-watt halogen bulb and plugs into a halogen bulb outlet, consumes only 7 watts while cutting down CO 2 emissions by a half-metric ton, on average, in its 50 000-hour lifetime (12 years in typical office use).
Last November, Lamina became the first LED lighting maker to commercialize a product, the Titan, with a light output equivalent to a 60-W incandescent bulb, good enough for office and household lighting. But a screw-in household bulb is probably not in Lamina’s future, says Shinneman.
LED lights have a typical lifetime of more than 40 000 hours, meaning they might last 20 years in typical household use. Homeowners might change an entire fixture after 20 years. So a screw-in bulb makes little sense. Besides, says Shinneman, the shape limitations of a standard bulb would almost certainly reduce an LED light’s efficiency, because, among other reasons, it would be too difficult to remove heat from the LED and keep it operating at an efficient temperature.
Still, Shinneman thinks that LED lighting will make its way into homes—new homes at least—very soon, citing recent legislation in California and other U.S. states that restricts the amount of energy used by lights in new buildings. ”Everybody wants to ban the [incandescent] bulb,” he says.