A human approach to saving energy!?

A human approach to saving energy!?

“About honesty in the lighting world.”
by Joachim Ritter

This year a Nobel Prize was again awarded for work that is related to the quality of light. In 2014, Shuji Nakamura was recognised by the Nobel jury for his research on the blue LED, which has played a role as a silent killer in the death of the incandescent lamp. Back then, energy saving was one of the main arguments put forward for the LED. And in general this remains a prime reason for promoting the tiny light sources to this day. Now in 2017, it is again the work of scientists that has been recognised internationally at the highest level that can help the lighting market underline its importance – but for other reasons.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine this year went to Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, who “were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings … Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions”, the Nobel jury explain. This is further confirmation and recognition of the importance of light.

It is indeed again the LED, together with the opportunities lighting control offers, that the lighting industry as a whole can use to their advantage to give themselves a further boost. The focus will doubtless be placed on Human Centric Lighting again, of course, to give our lighting industry renewed momentum.

However, it is important to stress that it is not the lighting industry and lighting products alone that can lead to the desired result, and that only educated lighting designers who have gained recognition as qualified professionals are able to make a significant difference. Lighting design is far too complex and situation/user-oriented for so-called HCL luminaires to be able to provide the simple solution to what scientists’ research findings are recommending. Education and continuing professional development are therefore an absolute must and not merely an option. In the meantime, we are all aware of the fact that LEDs have not necessarily led to energy saving and been able to contribute to reducing CO2 emissions. On the contrary, the change to LEDs has led to far more lighting being installed, and any energy savings being taken advantage of in other areas. Some people may naturally be of a different opinion in this regard. Energy-saving LEDs have indeed enabled us to integrate more better lighting into our living and working environments – but again, that might be interpreted as a general statement… The application of cool white energy-saving LEDs has not led to improved lighting conditions at all. It has made certain spaces a whole lot brighter, as space shots of Milan and other cities have shown.

When we ask ourselves why this has all happened, there is actually no doubt that decisions made by insufficiently educated, or qualified, lighting planners, architects and also clients have led to this dilemma. And nobody made any attempt to stop or inform the lighting industry of the risks and benefits to humans of specific lighting applications, such as cool white LEDs.

Something is not working right in our industry. Perhaps it is time to be more honest and provide clear evidence of what we know and what is necessary: a concerted effort in the name of qualified lighting experts who are truly able to focus on the needs of human beings and the environment.