Residential Lighting: What is the Sustainable Furnishings Council?
Susan Inglis: Our members are a balanced coalition of companies that have various roles in the industry, including suppliers, manufacturers, interior designers and product designers. World Wildlife Fund and Rainforest Alliance are part of the board, as is a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Our mission is to promote best practices for sustainability throughout the home furnishings industry, raising awareness, providing educational and other resources to implement best practices.
RL: What relevance does SFC have for the lighting industry?
SI: The home furnishings industry can have a significant impact on addressing the climate crisis. Climate change is happening because of human production of carbon dioxide emissions. Three-quarters of carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for the generation of electricity and for transporting goods. The remaining quarter comes from deforestation. The lighting industry is all about using electricity, and using less electricity is crucial for reducing carbon emissions.
RL: What is GREENleaders?
SI: GREENleaders is the industry’s first certified sustainability training program. About 300 people have completed the program. The training has six units, and there is a test on each unit. When you get 90 percent correct on all the tests, you become a certified GREENleader.
RL: What educational role will you play in the lighting industry or in lighting-related legislation?
SI: What really empowers people is knowing the “why” of it. Why are these regulations being made? Why is it important not to use 100W incandescent bulbs anymore? What difference does that make? This information empowers sales staff and companies to actually be pleased that a law exists, and to use their compliance with that law to their best advantage — to build their business.
RL: Do you work with the American Lighting Assn. (ALA)?
SI: I would like for the SFC to be working with every industry association. That is very much where we belong and where we want to be, to help deliver the type of education that is needed in the lighting sector.
RL: What are you judging for the first-ever ARTS Green Award?
SI: Best practices including choosing the best material, making best use of those materials and running your business in a way that is environmentally/socially responsible and profitable. An important point is influencing up and down your supply chain as you implement best practices in your own business. Another important point is telling your green story effectively so that you’re raising awareness of the cause, as well as showing off the green features of the products or of your business, and any other evidence of commitment.
RL: What else would you like to say regarding the lighting industry?
SI: We are very proud of our lighting members. We have members who make and sell very efficient and beautiful lighting. Because reduction of electricity use is so important, we really see the lighting members as important.
We can help empower salespeople to sell an authentic green story. Way too often, the sales staff has no idea why a certain fixture is efficient or why a certain material is good to use. The information enables the sales staff to have intelligent conversations with customers and make good recommendations. light.