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Environmental comparison of different lighting options

Environmental comparison of different lighting options

how sustainable is…

This study compares the environmental impacts of four different types of domestic lights (light bulb wattage in brackets):

The study considers the environmental performance of the four different light bulb types across their life cycle, from manufacture to use and disposal. For the disposal, the study is “based on appropriate disposal requirements for the investigated lamps as practised today in Western Europe”.

The study suggests that by far the biggest environmental impact associated with all of the four lamps results from their use. I.e. the manufacture of the lights (bulbs) and their disposal only has a very small impact on the environmental performance overall. The study finds that compact fluorescent lamps have the lowest impact on the environment (regardless of light bulb quality), followed by conventional fluorescent lamps, halogen lamps and Tungsten (incandescent) lamps. This is directly linked to their power consumption and the impact on the environment from power generation.

With regards to the “electricity mix” assumed, the study looks at different scenarios, including “European electricity mix” and a hydro electricity mix (i.e. where the power is generated from a renewable resource). While the study suggests that the impact on the environment is greatly reduced when the lights are powered with electricity generated from hydro power, the relative environmental performance of the four different lights does not change.

Link to full report (note: this report is written in German)

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

This study does not consider the latest lighting technology (LEDs). Also, the study does not elaborate in detail on the use of Mercury in fluorescent lights. We hope to find studies which cover these points and add them to envormation’s database.

Based on the results from this study, the choice is clear: to minimise the impact on the environment from domestic lighting, you should opt for compact fluorescent light bulbs. And you can significantly reduce your impact on the environment from lighting if you turn your lights off when you don’t need them.

When (how soon) to turn your lights off? This article by the US Department of Energy has further information on this topic.

Report Rating: 3 out of 3

Report Published: 2010

Country: Switzerland

Author(s): Tobias Welz, Roland Hischier, Lorenz M. Hilty (Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research)

Publisher: www.academia.edu (registration required) / Elsevier Inc

Funder: not known

Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, environmental performance, environmental impact, light bulb, lamp, halogen, tungsten, compact fluorescent, incandescent

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