New Regulations Could Result in Energy Savings and Emission Reductions

The Department of Energy (DOE) has implemented new regulations regarding the manufacture and sale of fluorescent lamp ballasts. According to the DOE, this is resulting in significant energy savings and emission reductions. Moreover, lighting accounts for 20-25% of all electricity consumed in the United States where, Americans spend about one quarter (1/4) of our electricity budget on lighting, or more than $37 billion annually. Adoption of these lighting efficiency standards is expected to save enough energy by 2030 to power between 12-26 million homes in the United States. It will also result in a reduction of greenhouse gasses equivalent to the impact of removing 58 million cars from the road.

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Sempra Energy Utilities combined to facilitate unprecedented levels of energy efficiency during California’s electricity crisis in 2001. Their efforts (plus those of the state government, municipal utilities, and many others) reduced the state’s energy use by 6 percent in 2001 and cut demand by as much as 12 percent. The utilities used rebates for high-efficiency products and a full spectrum of other customer programs and media campaigns to garner these results. As one example, the utilities helped sell 9 million compact fluorescent light bulbs in 2001—more than were sold in the entire United States in 2000.

Green Building News, August 2002

Moving forward we must begin to think globally and act locally. For example, Philips Lighting uses a third party environmental organization called INFORM Inc. ( An independent research organization that examines the effects of business practices on the environment and on human health. The organization’s goal is to identify ways of doing business that ensures environmentally sustainable economic growth. Government, industry, and environmental leaders around the world use their reports. In another example, the great state of Vermont has recently enacted laws that require Fluorescent lamp makers like General Electric, Slyvania and Phillips, to label all lamps containing mercury sold in the state. Yet market demand across the United States expect us to label all of the lamps sold.

Mercury is a highly toxic and widespread contaminant that has resulted in fish consumption advisories for mercury in over 40 states. Recent data released by the CDC indicates that 8 percent of women of childbearing age in the U.S. have mercury levels in their bodies that exceed federal agency guidelines, placing over 300,000 babies at risk each year from mercury exposure. The FDA recently warned pregnant women and young children to not eat certain seafood due to high mercury levels.
Green Building News, January 2003

Philips Lighting has taken a leadership role quantifying the amount of Mercury in lamps, “From the compact fluorescent lamp to our proprietary low-mercury ALTO® technology, Philips has led the lighting industry toward a model of sustainability,” said Steve Goldmacher, Director of Corporate Communications, Philips Lighting Company. “With our Sustainable Lighting Index, we are extending that model to our end-users, encouraging them to consider the environmental impact of their lighting operations.”

The Philips calculator measures lamp mercury in pictograms per lumen hour. This measurement use a ratio of mercury content over lamp life multiplied by mean lumen output, thereby rating mercury content against the performance of the lamp, which is among the considerations for sustainable design. For example, a low-mercury lamp with long life and low lumen output would reduce mercury in the lamp itself but would call for more lamps, which adds up to more mercury and greater energy consumption. The tool ensures that end-users consider all three factors in their lighting decisions.

The picogram per lumen hour measurement is compatible with the U.S. Green Building Council’s current proposal for its LEED-EB specification. Pending approval of the specification, the mercury calculator will be made available free on Philips Lighting’s Web site: A prior version based on an early draft of LEED-EB was first introduced in March at the National Facility Management and Technology Conference in Baltimore.

In conclusion, one of the widest-spread energy conservation strategies available to us involves replacement of lamps with newer, higher efficiency fluorescent lamps. With efficiencies approximately four times greater than incandescent and older fluorescent lamps. As a key front-line strategy in new energy-efficiency initiatives, this would seem to make sense: relamping requires little infrastructural work, and capital costs are significantly lower than for major equipment overhauls producing faster returns on investment. Relamping is a relatively painless and seemingly effective way to “do the right thing.”

The production of light from electricity, however, is an “uphill” energy conversion, and thus a process in which the maximum achievable efficiency, constrained by thermodynamic law, is quite low. If one examines total energy conversion efficiency—from coalmine to lamp—then both fluorescents and incandescents operate at net efficiencies below seven percent (7%). Almost all of the discussion regarding lighting efficacy has used stage efficiencies (in this case: the energy conversion within the luminaire) rather than cumulative or total efficiencies. As a result, eliminating one incandescent lamp has approximately the same impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as replacing twenty incandescent lamps with fluorescent lamps.
Energy, Body, Building, To Adopt Environmental Design, M. Addington, Harvard Design Magazine, 18, Spring/Summer 2003

The majority of our efforts to reduce energy use through lighting have focused on efficiencies rather than consumption, until now. Using LEED-EB as a guideline, we can manage the waste stream used in the production of fluorescent lamps by establishing a minimum recycling program quantifying current waste stream production volume. This is simply done. By conducting a waste stream audit, establishing current waste baseline and implementing and maintaining a procurement/management policy a facility manager can reduce the waste stream attributed to relamping through purchasing strategies and collection station equipment, agreements, and occupant awareness notices.

In conjunction with the Philips Calculator a Facility Manager will soon, be able to show mercury reduction in Lighting:

  • Being able to provide a copy of the policy specifying that purchases of mercury-containing lighting lamps for use in the building will be made in such a way that the annual average mercury content of these lamps is less than 25 ppm.
  • Providing the required records of all purchases of mercury-containing lighting lamps for use in the building, and calculations showing that the annual average mercury content of these lamps is less than 25 ppm.

Lisa Langfoss
Ms. Langfoss comes to Philips Lighting with over 11 years of experience in strategic planning, marketing and lighting sales. Currently working in market development, Ms. Langfoss is responsible for the sales growth in Chicago, Milwaukee and Northwest Indiana territories.

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest electronics companies and Europe’s largest, with sales of EUR 31.8 billion in 2002. News from Philips is located at

Since Philips was founded in 1891, it has worked to improve social equity and environmental quality, proving that responsible business is good business.

Kelly Andereck
Kelly Jon Andereck brings years of experience in technical architecture and design to any project. A specialist in sustainability, building performance, daylighting and environmental marketplace, he has served as project manager at Southern California Edison for seven years where he worked on energy simulation tools, field audits. He has also volunteered his work for several pro-bono projects, such as his recent design for a strawbale playhouse, built to benefit The Pittsburgh Project in collaboration with the USGBC.

His firm A Design, is a full-service energy and environmental design-consulting firm committed to providing the development community with specialized technical analysis and documentation.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Green Building Council is the nation’s leading coalition for the advancement of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy places to live and work. Established in 1993, the Council offers various products and services to include the LEED Green Building Rating System, an annual International Green Building Conference and Exposition, membership summits, information exchange, education, and policy advocacy.

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