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2023 Green Lighting Trends: Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Illumination

2023 04 06 14 51 22

I. What is Green Sustainable Lighting?

The concept of green lighting was first proposed in the early 1990s by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The complete definition of green lighting includes four key indicators: energy efficiency, environmental protection, safety, and comfort.

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Energy efficiency means obtaining sufficient lighting while consuming less electricity, thus significantly reducing atmospheric pollutants such as carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and achieving environmental goals. Safety and comfort refer to clear, soft illumination without harmful light such as ultraviolet rays or glare, and no light pollution.

The purpose of green lighting is to achieve efficient, sustainable illumination and contribute to future sustainable development.

II. Why Do We Need Green Lighting?

  • Reduce carbon dioxide emissions:
    Carbon dioxide emissions are one of the most severe environmental issues on Earth, significantly impacting climate change, ecosystem destruction, and global changes.
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  • According to the International Energy Agency, global carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase and have now exceeded historical highs.
    The primary cause is human activity, particularly carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas) and deforestation.
    Implementing green lighting enables better use of electricity, indirectly reducing fossil fuel combustion and deforestation, significantly impacting carbon dioxide emissions reduction.
  • Protect the environment:
    Traditional lighting technologies, from initial lamp production and use to the disposal of scrapped lamps, produce pollution throughout the process. To protect human health and reduce environmental pollution, we need to adopt green lighting for sustainable development.
  • Energy conservation:
    The most common global power generation methods still rely on coal and oil. As we all know, coal and oil are non-renewable resources. Efficient use of electricity is one of the most effective ways to conserve energy consumption. Moreover, for individuals, more efficient electricity use also helps businesses save on energy costs.
  • Economic benefits:
    Green lighting not only conserves energy but also reduces energy costs, positively impacting the economy.
  • Improve the quality of life:
    Green lighting focuses not only on environmental health but also on human health. The other two indicators of green lighting are providing comfortable and safe illumination, which contributes to improving people’s quality of life.

In summary, green lighting has a significant impact on protecting the environment, improving the quality of life, and promoting sustainable development.

III. Measures to Achieve Green Lighting

We have already discussed the importance of green lighting. Now, we will share some measures to implement green lighting.

Use energy-efficient and environmentally friendly lamps: Replace traditional low-efficiency lamps with high-efficiency ones, such as LEDs, energy-saving lamps, and solar lamps.

Supplement lamps with optical devices, such as reflectors and high-efficiency lenses, or use materials that promote light reflection in the environment to improve lighting efficiency. However, glare issues need to be considered.

  • Implement energy efficiency management:
    Reduce unnecessary lighting usage and lower lighting energy consumption to achieve energy conservation by using energy-saving devices, such as timers and sensors, or employing zone and group-based intelligent control of lamps.
  • Utilize natural light:
    Enhance the use of natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting by adopting efficient architectural designs that increase daylight windows, install light-guiding holes, and add daylighting devices.
  • Solar power generation:
    Sunlight is a free, clean, renewable energy source. We can convert sunlight into electricity using solar power systems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping to slow down global warming.

The above are some common measures to achieve green lighting. We will now share detailed information about the implementation of these measures.

IV. Adopting Energy-Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Lamps

Which lamps are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly?

LED lamps are the most common green and eco-friendly lamps, known for their efficiency, durability, and reliability.

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  • High efficiency:
    LED lamps use semiconductor technology to convert electrical energy into light energy, boasting better lighting effects and higher luminous efficiency (80-160Lm/W) than traditional lamps. They also don’t require additional electronic ballasts, and their power drivers have extremely low power consumption, making LED lamps the most efficient in history.
  • Environmental protection:
    LED lamps’ luminescent materials (such as semiconductors) do not contain toxic substances, posing no health risks. They also don’t contain radioactive materials, preventing pollution during use.
  • Long lifespan:
    LED lamps on the market typically have a lifespan of 25,000 to 50,000 hours, significantly reducing lamp replacement frequency and waste generation.

In conclusion, LED lamps are an efficient, environmentally friendly, and energy-saving lighting solution, playing a crucial role in realizing green lighting.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) were the most widely used lamps before LEDs became popular. They are also an effective replacement for traditional lamps, but they have lost their advantage with the development of LED technology.

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  • High efficiency:
    CFLs have four times the luminous efficiency of traditional incandescent lamps, usually between 65-85Lm/W. They use efficient filaments and electronic ballasts, achieving energy conversion efficiency of over 80%.
  • Long lifespan:
    Compared to the 1,000-hour lifespan of incandescent lamps, CFLs have a much longer lifespan, typically ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 hours, reducing lamp replacement frequency and conserving manpower and resources.
  • Environmental protection:
    CFLs have a longer lifespan than traditional lamps, so fewer waste lamps are generated. Although CFLs have some impact on human health and the environment, they can be very environmentally friendly with proper disposal.

V. Which light fixtures are not energy-saving and environmentally friendly?

Incandescent bulbs are the first-generation lighting fixtures that emit light by heating the incandescent filament (tungsten) with an electric current. They have been in widespread use for over a century and are commonly found in people’s homes.

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  • Luminous efficiency:
    Incandescent bulbs can only convert about 10% of energy into light, producing only 10 lumens per watt, while the other 90% is wasted and converted into heat energy, resulting in low luminous efficiency.
  • Lifespan:
    Incandescent bulbs have the shortest lifespan of any light fixture, lasting only about 1000 hours, and are made of glass, which can easily break accidentally, leading to a higher frequency of bulb replacement and increased waste.
  • Environmental aspect:
    Incandescent bulbs contain toxic substances such as cadmium, making them difficult to recycle and dispose of when they are discarded.

Halogen bulbs are an improved version of incandescent bulbs. They are filled with halogen gases such as iodine or bromine. At high temperatures, the sublimated tungsten reacts chemically with the halogen gas, and the cooled tungsten solidifies back onto the filament, forming a balanced cycle to prevent premature filament breakage. Therefore, halogen bulbs have a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs.

  • Luminous efficiency:
    The luminous efficiency of halogen bulbs is around 50Lm/W, much higher than incandescent bulbs.
  • Lifespan:
    The lifespan of halogen bulbs is between 2000h and 4000h, but they share the same disadvantage as incandescent bulbs – their glass bodies can easily break, leading to a higher frequency of bulb replacement and increased waste.
  • Environmental aspect:
    Halogen bulbs contain harmful substances such as mercury, which have potential environmental and health impacts.
    Mercury is a toxic substance that can be released as vapor when the bulb breaks, posing a risk to human health. Mercury is also a toxin in the environment, causing pollution to aquatic life and soil.
    Furthermore, the manufacturing and disposal of halogen bulbs involve other harmful substances, such as chlorine, which have broader environmental impacts.

Sodium lamps are another improvement of incandescent bulbs, mainly consisting of a bulb and an electronic ballast. Sodium lamps are filled with high-pressure sodium gas, which generates light by passing an electric current through the filament to produce high temperatures. Sodium lamps emit a yellowish-white light, which is more yellowish than other incandescent bulbs.

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  • Luminous efficiency:
    Sodium lamps are very efficient light fixtures, with a luminous efficiency of around 100Lm~140Lm/W.
  • Lifespan:
    The lifespan of sodium lamps is typically around 24,000 hours, making them a very long-lasting product compared to incandescent bulbs.
  • Environmental aspect:
    Sodium lamps generate ultraviolet radiation during use, which may be harmful to humans and animals. They also contain toxic substances such as thallium, cesium, and gallium, which can cause environmental pollution if not properly disposed of.

Traditional fluorescent lamps, also known as low-pressure mercury lamps, generate light by using the principle of low-pressure mercury vapor releasing ultraviolet radiation, which in turn causes the phosphor to emit visible light. They are classified as low-pressure arc discharge light sources and are mainly used in homes, offices, and schools.

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  • Luminous efficiency:
    Traditional fluorescent lamps have lower efficiency, typically ranging between 55Lm and 80Lm/W.
  • Lifespan:
    The lifespan of fluorescent lamps is relatively short, usually between 2,500 and 3,000 hours, leading to a higher replacement frequency and wasting resources.
  • Environmental aspect:
    The production of fluorescent lamps generates toxic substances such as mercury. During use, they also release mercury, causing harm to the environment.

In conclusion, the above analysis compares the energy efficiency, lifespan, and environmental aspects of several common traditional light fixtures. As we can see, traditional light fixtures have many drawbacks, such as low energy efficiency, health hazards, and short lifespans. Therefore, adopting green and environmentally friendly light fixtures is essential for sustainable development.

VI. Implementing Energy Efficiency Management

Traditional lighting control methods involve using toggle switches to manually turn lights on and off, often controlling multiple lights with a single switch. This is not conducive to energy conservation. To promote energy-saving lighting control, we have the following suggestions:

  • Zonal and group control: When there are more than two activity zones in a room, we can separate the lighting control for each zone. This way, when only one activity is needed, we can turn on the lights in that specific area.

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For example, in the office lighting scenario above, a dedicated circuit switch is set up for each group of workstations, turning on only the areas where people are working. The corridor area lighting is controlled separately, allowing for half of the corridor lighting to be turned off when natural light enters the office during the day, achieving energy-saving effects.

  • Smart sensor control: To make control more intelligent, we can install light sensors or motion sensors near windows or in areas with less human activity, such as corridors.

For example, in the office scenario above, light sensors are installed for the two rows of lights near the windows, automatically adjusting the brightness of the lights based on the intensity of the illumination, ensuring that the desktop illumination remains at the required level. This can effectively save electricity and make full use of natural light.

In enclosed office corridors like the one shown above, motion sensors can be installed for the lights. When no one is present, the light brightness is reduced by 50%-80%. When someone enters the corridor, the entire corridor’s lights are turned on at full power, effectively saving electricity. Maintaining 20%-50% brightness does not significantly affect the visual experience. This control method is also suitable for underground parking garages, equipment rooms, and other similar areas.

  • Timer-based smart control: For places with fixed working hours, setting a timer for the lights to turn on and off can prevent accidental waste due to manual control.

The above are three lighting control methods for energy conservation. By following these methods, we can effectively reduce lighting energy consumption and achieve energy-saving goals.

VII. Utilizing Natural Light

Natural light is an effective choice for indoor lighting. It not only reduces energy consumption but also improves the quality of life. When using natural light for indoor lighting, the following suggestions should be considered:

  • Add skylights: For new buildings, during the overall architectural layout planning, add as many skylights or windows as possible without affecting the building’s structure and necessary functions, maximizing the use of natural light and allowing it to effectively enter the interior.

For existing buildings, check whether all reserved openings in the outer walls and windows are fully utilized, and examine their light transmission rate, insulation, and sun protection. While meeting various standards, allow as much natural light as possible to enter the interior, maximizing the use of existing windows. You can also choose windows with sunshade blinds to reduce excessive sunlight during midday and flexibly use natural light.

  • Install light tubes: Light tubes are an effective way to utilize natural light, providing ample light for indoor lighting. Light tubes are transparent tubes that can transfer natural light from outdoors to indoors.

They usually consist of two ends: a solar collector installed outdoors and a light source installed indoors. The solar collector gathers sunlight into the light tube, which is then transferred to the interior. Light tubes are suitable for both new constructions and retrofitting existing buildings; incorporating them into the structural planning of new buildings based on their installation characteristics will yield better results.

  • Install reflectors: When existing building windows cannot effectively utilize light due to angle issues, or when nearby tall buildings block sunlight, setting up reflectors is a good solution.

Calculate the angles of sunlight exposure and the window receiving the light to set up reflector devices, aiming to introduce natural light from the window into the interior.

These are three methods for effectively utilizing natural light. Choose the appropriate solution based on the actual conditions of the building, and combine it with the lighting control and window coordination mentioned earlier to fully utilize natural light.

VIII. Solar Power Generation

Solar power generation, also known as photovoltaic power generation, uses solar panels (PV) technology to convert solar energy into electrical energy.

Install solar panels on rooftops or other elevated locations where they can easily receive sunlight, and then use a combiner device to consolidate the power.

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Low-voltage direct current can be used to power LED lights, or an inverter can be used to convert low-voltage direct current into alternating current.

In addition to powering lighting, excess electricity can be used for other household appliances and equipment, provided the power is compatible.

Solar power generation is very environmentally friendly and green, as it does not emit any harmful substances during its use.

IX. What are some environmentally friendly clean energy sources?

Currently, globally recognized clean energy sources include hydropower, solar energy, wind energy, biomass energy, wave energy, and tidal energy.

Solar Energy

Solar energy refers to the energy generated by utilizing sunlight. Solar power systems usually consist of solar panels and control systems. Solar panels are made up of multiple solar cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy using the photovoltaic effect. The control system is responsible for monitoring and regulating the operation of solar panels and delivering the generated electricity to electrical devices.

Solar energy is suitable for areas with long sunlight hours, as stronger sunlight can improve the efficiency of solar panels. The advantages of solar power generation include being a free, renewable energy source that does not pollute the environment and having low installation and maintenance costs with a relatively short investment recovery period.

Wind Energy

Wind energy refers to generating electricity using wind power found in the atmosphere. Wind power systems usually consist of wind turbines and generators that capture wind power and generate electricity.

At present, the proportion of wind power generation in the global energy structure is not high, but with continuous technological improvements and increasing environmental awareness, the development of wind power generation is accelerating worldwide.

Hydropower

Hydropower refers to the energy generated by utilizing water power. Hydropower systems typically consist of hydroelectric power plants, water turbines, and power stations. When water flows from a higher elevation, its kinetic energy is transformed into mechanical energy, which is then converted into electrical energy by the water turbine.

Hydropower is one of the earliest developed and most widely used renewable energy sources in the world. Its advantages include being a renewable energy source that does not pollute the environment and having low maintenance costs with safe and reliable operation.

Biomass Energy

Biomass energy refers to the energy produced from biomass fuels, such as wood, crops, edible fungi, animal manure, sludge, and domestic waste, to generate heat or electricity.

Biomass power generation mainly occurs in two ways: biomass combustion and biomass fermentation. Biomass combustion generates electricity by burning biomass fuels (such as wood, crop straw, and fruit tree waste) to produce heat that drives power units. Biomass fermentation generates electricity by fermenting biomass fuels (such as corn starch, sugar, and corn straw) to produce gases like methane and ethanol, which are then burned to generate heat that drives power units.

Biomass energy is a renewable, clean energy source with many advantages. It is derived from biomass fuels, such as wood and crop straw, which are renewable energy sources. Additionally, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning biomass are lower than those produced by burning oil, which does not cause severe environmental pollution. Biomass energy is suitable for remote areas with less extensive power grid coverage.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy refers to the heat energy found within the Earth, which is generated by the planet’s formation process and the radioactive elements found within it. Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that can be converted into electricity or heating through geothermal power plants or geothermal hot water systems. This is achieved by drilling wells into the ground to extract hot water or steam, and then using heat exchangers to convert their heat energy into mechanical or electrical energy. Geothermal energy is an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy source, as it does not consume any fuel, release harmful substances, or produce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wave Energy

Wave energy is a renewable energy source based on ocean waves, which are continuously replenished by wind power. The principle of wave energy generation is that when waves move near the coast, they form higher waves that can be used to drive the turbines of wave energy generators, thereby producing electricity.

Currently, wave energy is still a relatively new field of energy, but it has attracted global attention and has been widely applied in many countries.

Tidal Energy

Tidal energy is a renewable energy source that utilizes the movement of ocean tides to generate electricity. Its working principle involves constructing tidal power plants, usually in areas with high tidal ranges, and using underwater turbines to capture the kinetic energy of flowing water. This energy is then converted into electrical energy and sent to the power grid for distribution.

Compared to other forms of renewable energy, tidal energy has several advantages, such as predictability and consistency, as tides follow regular patterns. Additionally, compared to other energy sources like fossil fuels, it does not produce greenhouse gas emissions and has a smaller environmental impact.

However, tidal energy is still a relatively new and developing technology, with only a few tidal power plants currently operating worldwide. Furthermore, the high initial costs of constructing tidal power plants and the limited availability of suitable development sites may also present challenges.

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