Atoning for our crimes

It’s everywhere, isn’t it? Rubbish lighting. Inefficient, poorly-designed lamps and luminaires. Post-top globes, 600 x 600 modulars, T12s, switch start fluorescents and, God help us, the 500W security light.

Everyone who’s been in the industry a while must take his or her share of the collective blame for all the stuff we have inflicted on people.

Of course, we thought it was a good look at the time. ‘Let’s solve those horrible reflections on your computer with some Cat 2 fittings’. ‘These SON floodlights will deter burglars and vandals’. And the greatest lie of them all: ‘These MR16s are cool’.

But now we have a unique opportunity to assuage that guilt. By confronting our past, confessing to our crimes and paying back to society. Restorative justice, it’s called in the jargon.

Our community service is to begin to tackle all the bad lighting out there.

It could be a shrewd move commercially. With private sector new-build the slowest it’s been in years, and public sector spending about to fall off a cliff, we need to look at the opportunities presented by the UK’s existing lighting stock.

And with the awesome developments in lighting technology over the past decade – hell, the past two years – we can make a big difference.

But it means being more proactive than we have been in the past.

I am thinking of those guys and girls – often wholesalers’ reps, sometimes the new breed of energy consultant – who are rocking up to clients with calculations showing how wasteful their lighting is and proposing solutions with rapid paybacks. They also explain how soft loans from the Carbon Trust and tax breaks from Enhanced Capital Allowances can satisfy the bean counters. They then source the lighting equipment and appoint the installers. All in all, it makes for a nice business that stays below the radar of competitors.

We should aim to celebrate and replicate what these enterprising individuals are doing – but on an industry-wide level.

Instead of talking to ourselves – which we’re pretty good at – we need an outreach programme to educate end users and those with large lighting estates. We need to promote what lighting technology can achieve. After all, the 5,000 biggest organisations are facing a new carbon tax in the form of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. And we can help them avoid it – often for little or no extra cost.

This November’s LuxLive exhibition and EcoLight conference are designed to contribute to this reaching out. The LuxLive exhibition will provide a showcase for the very latest lighting technology for both the lighting community and its customers, while the EcoLight conference is aimed squarely at end users in

the retail, commercial, industrial, transport, infrastructural and public sectors. It’s designed to explain how energy can be saved in their property portfolios using lighting while improving the lit environment.

It’s just a start of course, but I can feel the guilt lifting already.

History repeats itself

The first electric lighting seen in Europe – that used carbon arc lamps known as Yablochkov candles – was installed at the Grands Magasins du Louvre in Paris in 1875.

Halogen’s been living on borrowed time

The Eurocrats must know the drill by now, says Ray Molony, Lux editor