‘Is it for new plant?’ ‘After a fashion… it’s for some real estate.’
‘A new showroom? A sales office?’
‘No, just the land – about 250 acres.’
‘OK great, what exactly are we building?’
‘Nothing. We’re going to plant some trees1’
‘Yes, lots. Native broadleaf mainly. Oak, birch, ash, willow, hornbeam, cherry. Eventually I see trees covering the hills, 100,000, 150,000 trees!’
‘Nurse to the boardroom, stat!’
You can imagine the conversation. I’ll wager that not many directors of luminaire manufacturing companies have discussed buying land to grow trees. But to its immense credit, that’s exactly what Thorlux Lighting has done. Its bold decision to buy a slice of rural South Wales for its carbon offsetting programme is innovative to the point of perverseness. And true to form, Thorlux doesn’t boast about it. It’s business as usual. Other firms would use pictures of the saplings in their advertisements and bus journalists out to see temporary tree lighting schemes by outré designers.
Thorlux is keen to emphasise that carbon offsetting is not a panacea for the carbon emissions caused by lighting installations. The first step is to minimise the energy used by the lighting and offset the remainder.
So are programmes like this the future? Well it won’t be for every manufacturer – or every client. But the philosophy of managing carbon for clients is an interesting way to think about what we do when we install lighitng.
Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International, says in our interview on page 44 that there are big opportunities for contractors to manage the LED installations of clients in a way that hasn’t been done in the past. Instead of rocking up every five years to do a refurb, local contractors can continually assess LED installations, and upgrade the engines – or the luminaires – when a compelling case can be made for an upgrade.
Solid state technology is changing the lighting business rapidly, probably in the same way that the business changed when electric lighting took over from gas in the last century. With these rapid changes, we have to change our mindsets, and how we view what we do.