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Shining a spotlight on green lighting claims

Words:
Stephen Cousins

A new ratings scheme allows designers to verify the circular-economy credentials of lighting products and avoid being hoodwinked by greenwashing

Designers and specifiers can verify the sustainability of lighting products through a new ratings scheme, created to stamp out false claims and ‘greenwashing’

Products certified under the TM66 Circular Economy Assured scheme must meet minimum circular economy standards for lighting design and manufacture, created to ensure that any claims are robust and comparable.

The voluntary scheme was set up by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Lighting Industry Association (LIA) and forms part of a tool kit, including the recently-published TM66 Creating a Circular Economy in the Lighting Industry and accompanying Circular Economy Assessment Method (CEAM).

The package was created to enable fabricators and the wider built environment sector to assess and verify the green credentials of lighting products.

The certification programme lends 'weight and credibility' to CEAM, the self-assessment methodology used to evaluate products, says Bob Bohannon, lead author of TM66. 'It requires in-depth evidence of the journey to integrate circular economy into manufacturing and use,' he explains. 'Products with recognised sustainability marks attract higher rates of specification; it is important to ensure that specifiers can trust the claims made.'

TM66 and its certification scheme are the results of a cross-industry collaboration between manufacturers, lighting designers, product designers and end-users, plus guidance from the government, academia and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.  According to CIBSE, major specifiers and organisations have already adopted the metric, which is expected to be applied to other areas of building services engineering in future.

Lighting products assessed under the scheme are measured against 66 circular economy criteria covering four key topics: product design, manufacturing, materials and ‘ecosystem’. The criteria include reusability, upgradability, repairability, modular components, durability, design for remanufacture and resilience to digital control obsolescence.

Claims are checked for comparability by asking for associated evidence. If there is any doubt, products can be inspected in the LIA’s UKAS-accredited laboratory.

'When directly specifying luminaires, or when briefing lighting designers, architects should ensure that as many products as possible in their project have a CEAM rating,' says Bohannon.

The adoption of TM66 reflects a general switch in focus by the built environment sector away from energy efficiency in use and towards whole-life carbon, embodied carbon and the life cycle of materials.

With high energy efficiency LED lighting technology now in wide use, there is greater scrutiny on efforts to conserve and extend the life of materials used in luminaires to derive more environmental and economic value.

 

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