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LightFair 2012: The Future of Lighting is Bright and Lighter on the Planet

LightFair

Taylor Jantz-Sell and Tanya Hernandez

By: Taylor Jantz-Sell

When I started working for ENERGY STAR five years ago, I had no idea I’d turn into the lighting nerd I am today. You know you’ve turned when you start evaluating the lighting wherever you go.  Back then, CFLs were just getting past all the early hurdles, and LEDs seemed far off.  Fast forward a few years, and it is amazing how things have improved. While CFLs have always been a no-brainer for efficiency, they weren’t always meeting people’s expectations. Now, with improved starting, appearance, and a selection of dimming models, there is an ENERGY STAR certified CFL to meet almost every need. And what was once the expensive and far-off possibility of LED lighting is now becoming a viable option for general purpose lighting needs. LED light bulb efficiency is on track to surpass CFLs, and with the help of ENERGY STAR, performance and quality have come a long way. Even as improvements are made, cost is dropping.

Every spring, I attend LightFair International– the premier lighting convention in the U.S. — where the latest and greatest in lighting is announced and displayed (and probably one of the few shows where people wear sunglasses indoors). I just returned from this year’s conference, and it is clear that LED lighting is the future.

I remember the first year that LED lighting really showed up at LightFair back in 2010. That year, everyone had to have some kind of LED product on display; I can only imagine the mad rush of manufacturing prototypes in preparation for the show. If you didn’t have “LED” in your booth at Light Fair you were surely to be left behind. Two years later it’s hard to find products at the show that aren’t LED. The exciting thing is that it’s not just a cool new lighting technology; it’s a cool new technology that can really take a bite out of our energy use.

Lighting accounts for 12-30 percent of energy use in the U.S. To put this into perspective, in a home that 12 percent is more energy than your refrigerator, dishwasher, and clothes washer uses combined! In a commercial building, that 30 percent is on par with what the air conditioning system uses.

What is really exciting is that ENERGY STAR has had a major impact on this market. Meeting ENERGY STAR performance and quality requirements is top of mind for anyone developing a new lighting product. What came across throughout the show was loud and clear: ENERGY STAR has set the bar for high quality, LED light bulbs and fixtures. It’s nice to see that ENERGY STAR is leading us all into a brighter future with advanced lighting that is “light” on environmental impact.

Taylor Jantz-Sell has supported ENERGY STAR lighting in various roles over the years, from working on the Change a Light Campaign, to product qualification, marketing, utility program support and consumer education. If you want to geek out on lighting she’s always up for it.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Small Steps Can Go a Long Way

By Lina Younes

For many years, I’ve tried to encourage my family to save energy and save water. There are simple steps we all can take at home, in the workplace, or in our communities that can go a long way towards protecting our health and the environment.

For example, what’s one of the easiest ways to save energy at home? Turn off the lights when you leave the room! How many times do we leave the lights on in one room for hours unnecessarily? Perhaps more often than we think! Another way to save energy in lighting overall is to change incandescent light bulbs in your home to one of the newer compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The traditional incandescent light was invented by Thomas Edison 125 years ago and produces 90% more heat than the energy-efficient CFLs. The newer CFLs use ¼ of the energy used by incandescent lights and also last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs. Furthermore, every CFL can prevent more than 400 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from going to the environment over the lifetime of the CFL. So, by changing one light bulb to a CFL can help you save money and energy.

Another area where a little effort can go a long way is water conservation in the home. More than 50 percent of water consumption in the home takes place in the bathroom. How can we save water without investing in any special equipment? Don’t leave the water running while you are brushing your teeth or shaving! Take short showers instead of taking tub baths.

Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility. Have other environmental tips to share with us? We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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What Do Light bulbs and the Shenandoah Valley Have in Common?

About the author: Molly O’Neill is EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information and Chief Information Officer.

Portrait of Molly O'NeillAs the Agency’s CIO, people ask me questions all the time. And some of the time they are questions that any good steward of the environment should know the answer to. Or at least, know how to find the answer.

Recently a friend of mine asks, “Molly, I wanted to support Earth Day, so I got some of those energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. What happens if it breaks? It’s got mercury in there!”

Off hand I didn’t know the answer, but figured a quick search on epa.gov would get me the answer. After I popped in the search field “flourescent light bulb” my results started with the question, “Did you mean: fluorescent light bulb?” Why yes, I did… thanks for catching that typo! I clicked on the link epa.gov/mercury/spills and pretty quickly found the info my friend was looking for.

The good news is there’s a lot of information out there. Navigating through that information is the challenge. Thanks to some new search capabilities on epa.gov, finding information has become easier. But we can do more.

And what if the “how do I” question isn’t so straightforward? I had a recent inquiry from a Shenandoah Valley community group leader asking how to find comprehensive environmental information to better assess their ecosystem. That question is a bit tougher and you’re not going to find the answer with a simple search engine inquiry.

I pointed my colleague to EPA’s Window to My Environment, Envirofacts, and the Toxic Release Inventory web sites; all great tools to help them get started with assessing the Shenandoah Valley. Also, I mentioned that states are important partners in our mission to protect human health and the environment.

Providing the resources to answer these complex questions is something I’m striving to do better with the Office of Environmental Information. For several weeks now, we have led a campaign called the National Dialogue for Access to Environmental Information to hear from stakeholders and our own employees about ways we can improve. Through this effort – and I’m inviting all readers of this blog to participate – we will be addressing ways to make information more readily available.

Also, come chat with me this afternoon from 2-3, where I’ll be taking your questions live in Ask EPA, our online forum where you can talk to senior officials.

I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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