Green Sustainable Lighting

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Infrequent Bulb Changes = Less Garbage July 9, 2010

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Have you ever heard of the floating islands of garbage around the world? Most notable is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but there are more growing within every major ocean gyre (pictured at right). These garbage patches are where things we throw out go to die, if by die you mean get carried out to sea and hang out for centuries while causing damage to marine life. Well, it turns out that Antarctica may be getting their own garbage patch soon. According to Discovery News, the British Antarctic Survey and Greenpeace found plastic packaging in the Amundsen Sea. A survey of the surface waters and the seabed revealed a healthy Arctic ecosystem, but that seems likely to change, since the area where the packaging was found represents the farthest reaches of the ocean for mankind.

80% of ocean pollution is land-based, or caused by man. It is estimated that 30% of landfill waste is packaging. By buying products that are concentrated or that last longer, you can reduce the amount of packaging that you send to the landfills and, ultimately, the ocean. LED lights last twice as long as CFLs (and don’t contain mercury, amounts of which are showing up in fish at an alarming rate). Additionally, since they are shatterproof, they don’t need to be wrapped in that super-thick plastic that you see encasing CFL bulbs. It’s just one more way that buying LED lights can help save the world, one bulb at a (long) time.


Repost: An LED That Mimics Old Standby / American Consumers Apparently Don’t Follow Lighting News June 25, 2010

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via the New York Times Green Blog:

In more sustainable design news, the New York Times Blog reports that Osram Sylvania has produced a new LED bulb (at right) that mimics the shape of a traditional Edison light bulb. The LEDs’ light emanates from the top, and they are supported by thick, arched heat sinks. It uses 12 Watts and is supposed to produce almost as much light as a standard 60-Watt lamp.

I have already mentioned that I prefer the modern look and functionality of an industrial LED light bulb (like the one at left), but I can see how one that can’t let go of old-fashioned lights could be “tricked” into buying this bulb. As someone who has worked with LED lights and knows a little bit about them, though, I can’t see how these heat sinks can be too effective. Usually they are composed of lots and lots of little ridges to increase surface area for heat dissipation; the chunky arches look like they minimize surface area. Anyway, I’m sure the heat sink on the Sylvania bulb works adequately, enough to be approved for sale. I’d probably just use oven mitts while replacing it.

The article goes on to make two more interesting points. First, it reveals another application for LED lighting: refrigerators used in retail. The lights in any refrigerator with a glass front are on 24/7, so there is a strong case for replacing the fluorescent tubes they typically use with more energy-efficient CFLs or, even better, LEDs. The lamps that you see in most refrigerators also generate considerable heat, with requires more work on the unit’s part because it needs to be cooled to maintain the proper temperature. This is where LEDs would again be extremely helpful, as they run a lot cooler than any other type of light bulb.

The most thought-provoking part of this article for me is related to the federal phase-out of inefficent lamps like incandescents. Though the lighting industry is working hard on developing marketable LED replacement bulbs, a survey of Sylvania customers revealed that 74% of them are unaware of the coming change. This is two years after Congress passed the bill for the phase-out. Rick Leaman, chief executive of Osram Sylvania, says he fears a backlash when consumers are unable to buy the old-fashioned bulbs they’re used to. He wants the government to start a campaign to raise awareness of the lighting revolution that the country is poised to see.

I guess I’m not surprised that three out of four Americans don’t know about the federal phase-out of the inefficient bulbs that are all around them. (Heck, according to the FCC, 80% of American broadband users [myself included] don’t know the speed of their own home broadband connections, which they also pay for and use.) I suppose I’m surprised that both the government and most light bulb manufacturers haven’t already taken the initiative to advertise the phase-out themselves.

When television was making the switch to digital, we saw tons of commercials warning viewers about it (albeit mostly paid for my digital cable companies), and the issue was also on the news a lot. It would make the US Department of Energy look good to show that they’re working on ways to help save the environment while maintaining quality of life for us. So I believe it’s on both the government and lamp sellers to publicize the phase-out which will effect the entire country. While I, for one, welcome our new LED overlords, it’s important for people of all backgrounds to understand what’s going on, process it, and think about what it has to do with sustainable living.


Bulled Light Bulb: Form Following Function June 24, 2010

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via design-aggregator:

An innovative new LED light bulb design by Jürgen Honold offers a sound compromise for people who embrace the LED lighting revolution and those who prefer the look of traditional bulbs. The Bulled light bulb is an 11 Watt LED replacement for a typical 60 Watt incandescent. Its LEDs are spaced out and built directly into the fins of the bulb-shaped heat sink. (The heat sink is where an LED bulb’s heat dissipates, leaving the light itself cool to the touch.)

image from

Personally, I think the heat sinks make LED light bulbs look edgy and cool. I’m glad this design integrates them into the overall look, rather than hide them. Honold’s design also offers a solution to someone who may be interested in LEDs for energy savings but wants a more radiant, rather than directional, light. The Bulled bulbs should be available on the market (in Europe, of course) by fall 2010.

The beauty in this design (for me, anyway) is how simple it is. If you see the problems people find in the LED bulb appearance, and know a little about how LED lights work, it’s easy to imagine something like this. (But not necessarily so easy to implement.) It makes me want to customize or commission my own LED light bulbs.


Dorky Grade School Crushes Die Hard June 16, 2010

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a fan of sustainable lighting



Bill Nye the Science Guy has gone totally green! In this interview with the U.S. Department of Energy he talks about the importance of teaching kids science, a hope for harnessing enough windpower to turn North Dakota into “the Saudi Arabia of wind,” and how to make your house more eco-friendly with easy methods like switching to LED lights and insulating your windows. Every 60 days he gets an energy bill for $7!

It’s official. I’ve fallen back in love with Bill Nye. But not in a romantic way. A “I-wish-he-was-my-dad” way? I have issues.