The Circular Economy in Lighting Design

The Circular Economy in Lighting Design

9 November 2022

Improving the relationship between the economy and the environment is a priority for the nation. As every company explores ways of creating more sustainable alternatives to their daily operations, the circular economic model has revealed itself as an excellent choice.

A circular economy can be applied to any company, regardless of its business’s focus. As a result, it’s an increasingly used method of obtaining genuine sustainability for businesses in the 21st century.

sustianable lighting

Why Change a Linear Economy?

All economies started as linear models; these are when:

  • Resources are extracted
  • Manipulated or manufactured for products
  • Used and then discarded.

This one-way, linear model evolved from mass consumerist lifestyles based on short-life, disposable products. The biggest problem with this model is its immense waste, which damages the ecosystem.

The Circular Economy Concept

The concept of a circular economy is to eliminate as much waste as possible from the end of a linear economy. For example, composting organic materials or recycling non-biodegradable waste allows those materials to be reused, limiting waste and any potentially harmful chemicals contaminating natural systems. However, the final goal of a perfectly designed and implemented circular economy will have no waste in it at all.

Circular Economy Design

Several elements will make up any circular economy regardless of what industry it’s for:

1. Design for Reuse

This involves considering multiple lifecycles instead of just one. This way of looking ahead will ensure your products can be reused for similar or different purposes.

2. Design for Refurbishment

When designing a product, you can extend its lifecycle by making it easier to replace worn parts. This can be done by planning for replacement components or upgrades.

3. Design for Recycling

Designing products with recycling in mind is a common practice that many people are familiar with. Being able to reuse a product’s raw materials again significantly helps with reducing waste.

4. Design for Remanufacture

This one is a combination of the previous two. Products that can easily be disassembled can have their functional components removed and reused before the unusable ones are recycled for their raw materials.

You can easily find new areas to improve; the trick is to look beyond raw materials and consider the resources your business is consuming, such as electricity for your facilities’ lighting. Choosing the best lighting for your business is not just about aesthetics or providing a well-lit workplace. Building owners need to know they’ve also chosen an environmentally friendly, cost-effective option such as LEDs. As LED light manufacturers, we can shed some light on why.

Why Are LEDs good for the Environment?

LEDs are already the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly lighting choice you can make, and they work excellently within a circular economy.

These benefits come from the two main aspects of LED technology, the source and luminaire efficacy. The source efficacy relates to the efficiency of the LED itself whilst the luminaire efficacy refers to how the LED and fixture work together to create the desired lighting effect.

The number one LED benefit is widely known; they waste far less electricity than the alternatives. Whilst 80% more efficient than other lighting solutions, they also convert 95% of their energy into light, with only 5% wasted as heat.

LEDs are non-toxic. Whilst other lighting options contain harmful chemicals or elements that can damage the environment when disposed of; our lighting solutions avoid harmful materials. Additionally, LEDs last 20 times longer than incandescent or halogen bulbs.

Circular Lighting Design to Help the Environment

Serviceable luminaires are vital for the future of longer-lasting lighting solutions. LED luminaires for large spaces can now be made with far less plastic. 3D printed luminaires from recycled materials will have a far lower carbon footprint (50-75% less) than conventionally constructed equivalents.

Circular components are the most natural element of circular lighting design. A luminaire’s internal modules contain the light engines and drivers but can become worn or damaged, leading to non-functioning LEDs. Replacing these quickly and conveniently without re-wiring or tools onsite is a key element at the design stage The old modules recycled and reused, an example of lighting designed for remanufacturing. Non-operational units can be repaired with replacement parts and have their lifecycle significantly extended.

The success of LEDs made great strides toward sustainability. Still, the lighting industry is reaching higher goals of making them part of a circular economy by improving existing manufacturing processes.

At Forge, we work to a tried and tested principle to get you what you want. We’re dedicated to meeting the environmental needs of our clients with our highly sought-after custom LED solutions. We’ll work with you every step of the way, from initial project meetings through design, prototyping, manufacturing and the final results.

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