In Defense of Going Green
Fueled by yet another ruffled reader, our expert holds up his end of the energy-efficient lighting conversation.
Please! Not you, too, on the green marketing bandwagon! Yes, green sells — and is a ridiculous buzzword in sales [in this country]. But, I don’t think it’s fair to infer that other countries that make wide use of fluorescent are somehow ahead of us. Stop bashing consumers’ confidence in their lighting decision-making by promulgating the illusion that nothing is lost by switching to a fluorescent lamp. Just because California requires it doesn’t make it good. Even the IALD has released a statement that there is currently no substitute for the incandescent lamp. While I appreciate your stay-positive attitude, in a column such as yours, consumers should get the real deal, not a re-packaging of the same compromises they are being asked to make everywhere else. Although, I do agree with you on your urging of manufacturers to develop complete Web sites.
Thank you for your full-bodied response to my March column, “Seeing Red About Green”— which was a counterpoint to a reader’s reaction to February’s “Out to Launch.” It does seem like green design and fluorescents continue to be a hot-button topic. First off, let’s get back to what the original question was, two Last Words ago: How can a new company position itself as a new lighting line in the high-end market? My main reason for talking about energy-efficient alternatives is that I believe that if you want to launch a line of fixtures, they need to be as attractive to as many people as possible. I never mentioned eliminating incandescent versions, I just suggested offering energy-efficient options, as well. The need for sustainable energy use is a concern by a community far larger than California. The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population and uses about 26 percent of the world’s energy. Meanwhile, European and other countries have been addressing the issues of energy efficiency for many years, such as using public transportation that is clean and efficient. Countries that make better use of energy are ahead of us, as they began dealing with the process of creating more efficient systems years ago. This reality has only begun to affect the United States as prices rise enough to make a difference in personal budgets. The statement from IALD to which you have referred reads, “There is presently no lighting technology that can replace certain types and uses of incandescent lamps,” but it also goes on to say, “The IALD supports all efforts to reduce electric lighting’s negative environmental impacts through careful design, daylighting integration, lighting controls and more efficient sources” and that the “phasing-out of inefficient light sources is one step in reducing lighting energy use.” The folks at IALD also suggest that “The most efficient electric light source is the one that is turned off.” I’m all for that, which is why I am a big advocate of motion sensors and other control systems. With that, I’ll end where I began by saying that well-designed choices for lighting fixtures can only increase consumers’ confidence, as many people want to be part of the change.
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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