By Fariyal Khanbabi
The stark reduction in pollution and environmental emissions during the peak of the pandemic has made sustainability a top-of-mind concern for companies across every business sector. While many organizations had been theoretically moving toward greener operations for years, not all have actually had a sustainability strategy in place. But priorities are shifting substantially amid recent media coverage and social pressures around climate change, making sustainable operations an urgent priority. Investor expectations have also played a key role, with new data that shows environmentally-friendly operations can also improve financial performance.
If your company is one of the many looking to reduce its environmental impact and carbon emissions, the answer may be as simple as looking up. Long-lasting, durable LED lighting has consistently proven to be a much more sustainable, low-impact lighting solution compared to legacy systems across virtually every application and use case. Here are four ways energy efficient LED lighting can help a facility achieve its sustainability goals.
Reduced energy consumption. Industrial lighting consumes some 58 TWh of electricity each year, producing more than 41 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, along with 73,000 tons of nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide — the leading causes of acid rain, smog, and respiratory issues. Switching to high-efficiency LED fixtures can reduce facility-level per-fixture energy consumption by up to 90%.
In fact, studies show that switching to LED fixtures at U.S. industrial facilities alone would cut lighting energy use by 90%, removing 28 million metric tons of carbon emissions from the atmosphere and 67,000 tons of nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide. Some LED fixtures have even achieved an Environmental Production Declaration, certifying their sustainability.
Less maintenance means less waste. Conventional fixtures require frequent maintenance, including bulb and fixture changes as often as every few months in harsh or high-vibration environments. This not only means more waste to dispose of, but it also contributes directly to energy consumption and carbon emissions related to the manufacture of replacement components, not to mention fuel consumption and exhaust emissions from transportation.
Because LED fixtures last up to 10 times longer than conventional HPS and other bulb-based lighting, they require less maintenance. That also means less need to manufacture, transport, and store replacement bulbs, lowering energy and fuel consumption and emissions across the board.
No hazardous materials. Considering that HPS and fluorescent bulbs also contain levels of mercury and other toxic materials, this not only puts workers at risk of exposure if a bulb breaks, but it also means more hazmat-containing bulbs must be disposed of on a regular basis. LED fixtures do not contain hazardous materials, which means there’s no health risk to workers. And, many LED components are even recyclable, with some lighting manufacturers are actually moving toward fully-recyclable fixtures.
Smart sensor compatibility. Smart sensors add even greater efficiency to lighting systems, reducing energy use by an additional 50%, simply by automatically dimming or turning off the lights when they’re not needed. The instant-on and solid-state nature of LED fixtures makes them highly compatible with smart sensors and controls, further reducing energy consumption and related carbon emissions. Some manufacturers offer brand-agnostic technology to build a smart lighting network and integrate it with other facility controls systems for maximum efficiency.
As climate change becomes an increasing threat, consumers shift toward more conscious capitalism and government agencies implement more strict environmental controls, companies must make sustainability a priority. Before making a major capital investment in new equipment that could interrupt workflow and facility output, consider the benefits of upgrading to LED lighting.
With plenty of options on the market today, including brands offering a wide variety of fixture options and form factors, an LED lighting upgrade is considered “low hanging fruit” for achieving more sustainable operations. And with some manufacturers offering up to a decade-long warranty, investing in LED lighting not only pays immediate dividends but also delivers long-term ROI.
Khanbabi is Dialight Group CEO & Chairman of Dialight Foundation. She is also the 2020 winner of Silver Stevie® Award in the Woman of the Year – Manufacturing category. In the past, she occupied the position of Chief Financial Officer for Blue Ocean Group Ltd. and Chief Financial Officer at Britannia Bulk Holdings, Inc. and Chief Financial Officer at Britannia Bulk Plc (a subsidiary of Britannia Bulk Holdings, Inc.). Khanbabi received an undergraduate degree from the University of Leeds.