You’ve heard the saying, “There are two things you will never wish to watch: the making of sausage and the making of legislation.” As the new chair of the Energy and Sustainability Committee of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), I’ve been getting a glimpse into the kitchen.
Why, you might ask, would a Lighting Designer care about the making of legislation? Energy codes, light pollution ordinances, LEED, green building codes, Federal energy efficiency legislation, Department of Energy rulemaking, and on and on. Get the picture? All of these things affect our work as lighting designers, directly or indirectly.
Lighting Designers have a responsibility, and an obligation, to minimize the negative environmental impact of their design decisions. Mostly, this means energy! energy! energy! Making lighting more energy-efficient is the easy part. The hard part is doing it without destroying the quality of the visual environment – this is what we do.
So, back to the sausage. We get involved with the development of energy codes and standards and legislation to make them the best they can be. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about resisting or trying to make standards more lenient. This is about maximizing real energy savings while simultaneously maximizing lighting quality – no simple task. Too often, standards have been developed by people who do not understand this balancing act. A belief that simply limiting the available watts or setting efficiency standards on equipment is enough can lead to unintended consequences, such as the obsolescing of unique equipment, or increased glare and light pollution.
The energy bill winding its way through Congress has an outdoor lighting energy efficiency provision that is being negotiated by lighting manufacturers and environmental groups. Our committee has been following this process and making ourselves heard (see IALD position statement below). We provide an independent voice that understands how to reduce lighting energy use of the total lighting system and how to create quality luminous environments. You need to understand this if you are going to write an effective standard, right? This is what motivates me to watch, and sometimes help, make the sausage.
Photo Credit: Stephen M. Lee