Dayle Laing

The ‘coolest shade of green’ is the sustainable choice. Dayle Laing is a Professional Speaker and Author who uses her experience and training as an educator, a designer and a LEED Accredited Professional to empower Conscious Consumers to make practical yet beautiful choices for sustainable living, reducing their carbon footprint while enhancing their body, mind & spirit.

Lighting is one of the most challenging and important areas in the field of green interior design.

Without good lighting, one cannot see a great design! One has only to stroll through the hardware store to see a confusing array of lighting products claiming different standards and ratings that are difficult to compare.

So what is the latest news in ‘green’ residential lighting? In the commercial field, contract lighting has been far ahead with a series of progressively higher standards for lowering energy consumption for buildings due to stringent building codes that are governed by IESNA standards (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America). LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) also awards credits for lowering energy consumption in all areas of the building, including lighting. Residential lighting has lagged behind due to the relatively low cost of energy that has kept the demand for ‘green’ low, due to more variability in home lighting requirements, and due to lack of suitable, affordable quality products on the market. Unsuccessful forays with compact fluorescents have further jaded the public about the value of ‘green’ lighting in general. Early LED products had low wattage but delivered very little light (lumens) and only a cool-white colour temperature.

This is now an impressive time for developments in ‘green’ lighting. The technology has been progressing rapidly and the cost is coming down. I wrote an article last year about my new green kitchen countertop and received several questions about the ‘green’ lighting I specified in the design.

Let’s take a look at some of the options I selected and why.

kitchen_lighting_500

For under-cabinet lighting, I selected a new LED product from Juno Lighting called PRO-LED. This system is fabulous since each lamp burns only 1 watt.  For my 15 linear feet of countertop, I used only 44 watts in total, with an average efficacy of 50 lumens/watt.  That is plenty of light (footcandles) for me to see what I am preparing for dinner! This compares to the 80 watts I was consuming in the 2 fluorescent tube fixtures that illuminated less than half of my old counter! The light is a sparkling warm white (3000K) and perfect to bring out the best in my Cambria quartz countertop (with a fairly dark value of 3) while adding virtually no heat. The lights are not dimmable and that suits me well, since each series operates on a separate switch and I can turn on task lights for activities like chopping with sharp knives!

One does have to consider the total life-cost of any lighting design including initial cost and subsequent operating cost.  Yes, it was expensive to supply and install, yet I will benefit from the 50,000 hours of lamp life for many years to come, and be even happier with the design when energy prices rise in the future, as they surely will.

kitchen_led_undercabinet_lighting_500For inside the glass-doored cabinets, I selected Alico’s low-voltage xenon pucks. While not as energy efficient as the LEDs, they do use 20 watts per lamp and last for 10,000 hours. The cabinets are hung from the wall, leaving a small space at the ceiling that can dissipate any heat generated from the lights. The lights effectively display the dishes placed on glass shelves, while making the kitchen appear deeper and larger than with solid cabinet doors alone.

 

kitchen_pendants_250The bow-shaped peninsula deserved special treatment with functional and decorative pendant lights. For this I selected mouth-blown glass shades on low voltage pendants from Contrast Lighting. These fixtures take MR-16 halogen lamps and I selected IR (infrared) coated Radium lamps rated at 3100K, that let me use 35 watts, giving equivalent light output of a standard 50 watt MR-16.  This is not a hugely ‘green’ option, but one that delivers a ‘wow-factor’, plenty of functional light over my cutting board and provides 5000 hours of lamp life; enough time until the LED technology catches up, and delivers a warm-white replacement for MR-16s. At the last trade show, I saw cool-white MR-16 replacements, and was told that warm-white is just around the corner.

I am thrilled with my new kitchen, love entertaining in it, and have noticed my latest electricity bill is down an average of 3 kilowatts/hour/day compared to this time last year.

The options I selected are not available in hardware or big-box stores. One does have to beware of inexpensive, poorly designed lamps and fixtures manufactured by companies without a track record, who may not be there down the road to honour their guarantees. Inexpensive MR-16 halogen lamps typically suffer from “colour-shift”, where the light changes colour as the bulb ages. This look is particularly unattractive when a row of lights appear each with a different colour!

Good lighting systems can be obtained through quality contractors and designers. I thank Oliver Clowe and his team at North American Lighting, who supplies the trade only, and provided me with great service and great products.

I am researching my next seminar, Lighting 101Tips for green lighting. My next lighting article will be about compact fluorescents; the misconceptions and where to use effectively. Please send me your questions, comments, and contact the office if a seminar like this would be of value for your group. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments (6)

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Comment:<br />Nice kitchen, Dayle. Love the glass-fronted cabinets and the under cabinet lighting.<br /><br />Barb<br /><br />Thanks Barb. There has to be a balance between the aesthetics and the energy efficiency of going 'green'. One needs to...

Comment:<br />Nice kitchen, Dayle. Love the glass-fronted cabinets and the under cabinet lighting.<br /><br />Barb<br /><br />Thanks Barb. There has to be a balance between the aesthetics and the energy efficiency of going 'green'. One needs to make selections for the best 'green' options and still have the resulting design be attractive, for the design to be really successful!<br /><br />Regards,<br />Dayle

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I really appreciate the great info in this blog Dayle. I agree that it is very hard to keep up with lighting changes. I would definitely be interested in a seminar on lighting for all rooms.<br /><br />Colleen,<br />Thanks for the suggestion....

I really appreciate the great info in this blog Dayle. I agree that it is very hard to keep up with lighting changes. I would definitely be interested in a seminar on lighting for all rooms.<br /><br />Colleen,<br />Thanks for the suggestion. Illumination is such an important area for designers and one that can affect significantly the amount of electricity used. I will be working on creating a seminar for lighting, and will be sure to let you know when it is ready.<br /><br />Cheers,<br />Dayle

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Dayle, I bought my first industrial strength LED. Our new kitchen ceiling fixtures needed a shallow bulb and the large CFLs we used before would not fit. I picked up a 14W G65 CFL that had a noticeable blue tinge - it is going back. The Philips...

Dayle, I bought my first industrial strength LED. Our new kitchen ceiling fixtures needed a shallow bulb and the large CFLs we used before would not fit. I picked up a 14W G65 CFL that had a noticeable blue tinge - it is going back. The Philips 12W AmbientLED produced more light and definitely seemed brighter. The light seems a bit harsh - if a dimmer does not help, I may add a small diffuser.

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Norbert, thanks for this and I am glad to hear you are experimenting with LEDs! They are really coming down in price and availability in the warm white helps for residential use. 20 watts is a fair amount of output for an LED, so if it is...

Norbert, thanks for this and I am glad to hear you are experimenting with LEDs! They are really coming down in price and availability in the warm white helps for residential use. 20 watts is a fair amount of output for an LED, so if it is dimmable, that would be a good idea for appearance and running cost.

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The Philips LED puts out almost as much light as the original 100W incandescent bulb, one of those 130V 'long life' bulbs that failed within four months. Philips claims the bulb will save $118 in electricity bills. The fine print on the back...

The Philips LED puts out almost as much light as the original 100W incandescent bulb, one of those 130V 'long life' bulbs that failed within four months. Philips claims the bulb will save $118 in electricity bills. The fine print on the back assumes 3 hours/day usage over 23 years. This may be technically accurate but seems a stretch - the bulb will likely outlive me! Bulb+dimmer put me back $50. I still think it is the right thing to do and expect the bulbs to pay for themselves through a combination of electrical savings and lower replacement costs.

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Norbert, you may realize your savings much faster if the electricity rates escalate, as they are likely to do. Thanks for sharing your experience.<br /><br />I would have been able to obtain LEDs for the pendants over the peninsula if I had...

Norbert, you may realize your savings much faster if the electricity rates escalate, as they are likely to do. Thanks for sharing your experience.<br /><br />I would have been able to obtain LEDs for the pendants over the peninsula if I had waited a year after my reno. The improvements to lighting are being made very quickly!

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