Tulips or people?

Dear Editor,
I just flew into Amsterdam airport at 5am and noticed an amazing number of small, bright sodium light patches on the clouds at relatively low level. It struck me that these are above the fields of poly-tunnels where flowers are grown. Apart from the light pollution aspect, is this really a sensible use of energy?

Is it sensible that lighting for humans becomes increasingly controlled and we are forced to use poor colour rendering light sources in the name of efficiency, while vast amounts of energy are used to extend growing periods for flowers? Is it better to create inhuman spaces for the sake of a few cut flowers used, presumably, to try to make these spaces ‘feel better’?

If we really want to make the kind of energy savings required to meet the Government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment it will take a massive change in the behaviour of the population and massive investment in generation infrastructure. We can do our bit in lighting but it is a very small slice of the pie chart and cutting into it seriously challenges the quality of lighting.

For lighting to make even a vaguely proportional energy saving it will be necessary to replace and refurbish around 70 per cent of the existing lighting installations in commercial buildings before 2030. As the government has added another 2.5 per cent of VAT to the cost of refurbishment, the economic case for building owners to undertake this work is severely compromised. If VAT were removed from building refurbishment there would be a greater incentive for building owners to refurbish and a chance that lighting would be able to meet its proportion of the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

Yours faithfully,
Kevan Shaw
Design director

Cheaper energy is not the solution

Dear Editor,

In December Chris Huhne, the energy and climate change secretary, set out a number of proposals for providing ‘lower-carbon electricity at lower cost than under present policies’. No one in their right mind would argue for higher-carbon forms of energy, but is he right to focus on lowering the cost?

Can ethical audits be credible?

Dear Sir,

Today’s UK/European lighting business would not survive without supplies from ‘the developing world’ – but the problem of verifying the ethical audits of factories is contentious, and has recently been highlighted in the press, including The Guardian.