Over the weekend my family and I had the pleasure of helping sort lights for the Holiday Light Recycling Drive with St. Louis Green. I love volunteering alongside my family, and the fact that proceeds from this event supported a great cause - Operation Food Search - made it even better.
The goal is for 128,000 pounds of waste to be diverted from landfills. The lesson for me as I sorted? Be careful what you buy!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? We do a lot of recycling these days. Maybe we should take a closer look at the first word in that phrase...reduce.
It is so easy to get caught up in consumerism, but what if we remember to refrain from making unnecessary purchases? Isn't that the most "green" choice of all? It may not stimulate the economy like "going shopping" but reduction makes good economic sense on a personal level.
One of our sorting tasks this weekend was to separate cardboard from lights, and in many cases there were brand new boxes of lights that had never been used. I kept wondering what scenario would lead to someone depositing brand new boxes of lights into the red recycling bins. But then again, I have some "extra" unused lights stored away in a box in the basement myself. Do you have boxes of unopened holiday lights at home? What future purchases can we avoid if only we remember step #1? Reduce.
Emphasis on Independent.
Has your lighting rep shown you this fixture? What?? Why not? It is one of the most fun things I've seen since RGB LED!
Oh...your lighting rep doesn't represent this product.
One of the advantages of hiring an independent lighting designer is that we work on your behalf: to get you the best possible lighting solution at the best possible price. Whether that means you should actually eliminate light fixtures from an overlit space or if it means you should buy products from five different lighting reps - we can facilitate that!
As an independent lighting designer, ENvisionLD can often provide lighting design services for around the price of one decorative fixture on your project. Chances are, by hiring us you will save money in the long run - by avoiding products you don't need, or through energy savings, or by increased worker productivity.
Hire an independent lighting designer for your project today. Get better results and have more fun!
The St. Louis Section of the IES will be pulling out all the stops for the 40th Anniversary of the Illumination Awards.
Now is the time to become a part of the program. Submit your best project from 2012 today!
Submit online at www.ies.org.
What is your favorite kind of lighting? Firelight? A moonlit night? Sunrise or sunset? Probably not the fluorescent light in your office. As an architectural lighting designer, I realize we have a lot to learn from the natural world. I strive to mimic the best parts about natural light with the limited tools at my disposal. I also try to illuminate spaces without wasting energy.
I believe the answers to many of our architectural and lighting challenges are hidden in plain sight in the world around us. For example, I recently read an article about an ultra-reflective fish that might have applications in lighting. Let's broaden our horizons and loosen our paradigms. As the sun sets on 2012, let's look forward with child-like hope to the unknown treasures 2013 will bring. I am wishing all of the ENvisionLD clients and colleagues a year full of discovery and invention!
What do you envision?
Envision Lighting Design, LLC is now an official WBE in St. Louis. We are happy to announce that our application for WBE status was confirmed and accepted by the St. Louis Airport Authority, effective December 18, 2012. So if excellent lighting design wasn't enough, now ELD helps you fulfill your WBE participation requirements, too!
Envision Lighting Design, LLC is also a State of Missouri certified WBE.
I’m Dreaming of an LED Christmas...
As a lighting designer, one of my favorite things about the holidays is the lighting. I love the soft flicker of candlelight, the twinkling tree lights, and a warm fire in the fireplace. It’s the time of year when most everyone dons their Santa/lighting designer cap and changes the lighting in their home for a month. Whether you string icicle lights around the roofline of your entire house or just wrap a strand of lights around a tree or wreath, you are being faced with this question: to LED or not to LED?
Five things to consider:
1. Initial Cost - These lights still cost more than standard incandescent holiday lights. However, from the looks of today’s store shelves, LED will be your only future option. You already have to search a little to find the standard incandescent lights.
2. Energy - Over their lifetime, these lights will pay you back what you spent and more on your electric bill. Here’s what the Department of Energy has to say about it. (Scroll to the bottom for the Holiday Lights section.) This is all theoretical, of course. Reliability is improving all the time, but my personal experience with LED holiday lights has been about a 30% early failure rate. Perhaps I’m just unlucky. The lights are guaranteed, but time is precious – especially during this season.
3. Color - As with all of the new technologies there are choices to be made about color. At least with Christmas lights we are used to thinking about color! Look at the samples before you make your selection. Some white lights are more blue in color while others look more yellow. Which look do you want? The icy wintry blue look or the warm glow of the yellowish lights?
4. Environment - To be environmentally responsible, don’t use any lights at all. To be both festive and environmentally responsible, just make sure you don’t add more lights since you’re saving energy with LEDs. Better yet, consider the solar LED products that are hitting the shelves today. You will still contribute to sky glow, but you won’t be consuming electricity with your light display.
5. Recycle! Remember – when you do toss out all of those old strands of lights - recycle them! In the St. Louis area, we are partnering with St. Louis Green to recycle 128,000 pounds of lights this year. That’s literally tons of waste that will be diverted from landfills. And hopefully every one of those strands will be replaced with a lower wattage, longer lasting option.
Tell us about your experience. Do your LED holiday lights work well? Have you noticed a difference in your electric bill? Have you had any luck with solar LEDs?
...May your days be merry... and bright!
As promised, here are my IES Conference notes! If you missed the Conference in Minneapolis two weeks ago, you missed a good one. If you were there, feel free to add comments about the seminars and paper sessions you attended.
For me, the Conference began on Saturday when we hosted 40 students and emerging lighting professionals with a full day of topics designed just for them. We toured an award-winning U of M campus building, had portfolio reviews, and gave everyone time to "speed network" with all kinds of lighting professionals. Our opening keynote speaker is an emerging professional herself - Maja Petric shared her inspirational use of light in her art. Her most architectural work used LED light to pour through cracks in a tunnel ceiling to illuminate the inside of the tunnel. The color temperature and intensity of the light changes throughout the day to mirror the current outdoor light conditions. See that project and more of her beautiful work here. It was her work that inspired me to post this.
When the Conference-proper kicked off on Sunday, we danced the night away to the delightful sounds of Stefan Graf's lighting industry band, Black Body Locusts. Special thank you's go to Naomi Miller for writing hilarious lighting lyrics for the band to sing and to Lance Bennett / Cooper Lighting for sponsoring the band!
The next day the dean of the University of Minnesota School of Design, Thomas Fisher, challenged us to not just problem solve, but problem seek. Design thinking is valuable beyond the making of things. He even wondered if universities should be restructured - not around disciplines, but around world challenges. In this format, the iterative process of abductive reasoning could be put to work: seeing connections between things that are seemingly different. Who knows the discoveries that would follow? Are we defining our industry correctly? Is it lighting? Or perhaps we are in the human productivity business? This led the way for professor Blaine Brownell to describe the lighting immersion project created by his architectural students. They gather all kinds of materials and, working in teams, build a light of some kind. Some of the projects make statements, some are portable, some explore the idea of light as an object that occupies space rather than illuminating it. All of these projects are unexpected and creative. For more from Blaine Brownell, start here then read one of his books.
Next I attended the "LIGHT+ SENIORS Symposium Summary and Review." All I can say is - wow - am I ever sorry I missed the symposium! The Summary and Review was so full of information that I'll revisit this one later in a blog post all its own.
If I thought I was mentally saturated before the "Smart Lighting - Beyond Ordinary" session, I certainly was afterward. This future-casting session covered everything from the invention of LED to synthetic LED skylights (light + video) to the use of blue light "patches" for pain therapy (light + medicine) and of course, the new hue LED from Philips sold in your local Apple store (light + apps.) Light carries information. Imagine one day using our light sources instead of broadband... It's all about the fusion of lighting and other disciplines. Are you catching the theme? The whole conference theme of synapses and connections was repeated through many sessions where interdisciplinary interaction was lauded and encouraged.
Monday night's entertainment was a private screening of the documentary The City Dark. It was fun seeing some of our very own IES Conference attendees (Howard Brandston) on the big screen. The movie itself pits lighting on earth against the night sky's fading natural lights and challenges us to balance the two. Heavy.
The next morning's keynote speaker was Mark Major who picked up the dark sky theme with excerpts from a National Geographic article on Light Pollution. What should we be more afraid of? The dark? Or what we are doing to the night? The work of Speirs + Major is always breathtaking, and hearing this one presentation was worth every penny I spent on the entire conference.
In the next session, I was privileged to introduce my fellow KU alumnus, Zachary Suchara, who spoke on human factors in lighting. When was the last time you considered your humanity as it relates to lighting? Humans are phototropic. Exactly how we experience light varies based on where we live on the planet. Zach had many other fascinating points including this one: In the past 20 years, there have been more new lamp types developed than in all the other years of human history put together. He closed the session with a great case study in which the developers exploited the human factor by turning the building systems into a game. Tenants in the building actually compete with each other to see who can use the least energy. It reminded me a little of watching the gauges on our Toyota Prius to see how many miles per gallon we can get per trip.
The Conference included many more papers, some political pundits, the always-popular Progress Committee presentation, a wonderful Illumination Awards dinner, other Society Awards, and lots of networking. For me, it was one of the best IES Conferences ever. How about for you?
'Tis the Season to Recycle! Reduce waste and spread cheer this holiday season by donating your broken or unwanted holiday lights to St. Louis Green's 2012 Holiday Light Recycling Drive! This year, St. Louis Green hopes to divert over 128,000 pounds of lights from entering our landfills. And not only does the Drive help protect the environment, but it also helps feed the hungry. A portion of proceeds from the drive is donated to Operation Food Search, helping those less fortunate to have a happier holiday season. Learn more at http://www.stlouisgreen.com/Holiday-Light-Recycling-Drive.
Recently I have been experiencing some creative restlessness, but earlier this week I attended the IES Annual Conference where I was reminded of the magic that first attracted me to lighting.
I must apply this revitalized creative energy to my first art (my head is swimming with knowledge and inspiration, but my desk is full of work) so visit the blog again soon for more post-IES Conference musings.
Lighting upgrade - Foundry Art Centre - St. Charles, MO
The existing lights at the Foundry Art Centre were cute but impractical. The gallery serves as a temporary home to changing exhibits, and the existing lights could not stand up to the wear and tear of being moved, removed, replaced, and changed on a regular basis. What's more, the low voltage rail system had a voltage drop problem, the MR16 lamps consumed 50 Watts each, and they were too hot to be aimed/focused while the lights were on.
Go check it out! The current exhibit, organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, will be on display at the Foundry Art Centre through December 14, 2012. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
Lisa J. Reed, lighting designer and Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC