Sustainability and Design

Sustainability is a conceptual framework for opportunities in lighting. In the book Cradle to Cradle, renowned designer and author, William McDonough describes the three “Es” of sustainability: Economy, Ecology, and Equity. While most discussions of sustainability focus on ecology alone, all three domains are inseparable, integrally tied together.

Economy:  Sustainability should be profitable. By managing long-term resource allocations, both natural and human, sustainability is worth the investment.

Ecology:  Sustainability should require the least amount of energy and have the least possible impact on the environment. By minimizing waste, replenishing the natural resources we use, and developing new sources of energy we will be able to continue prosperity and benefit humanity for generations to come.

Equity:  Sustainability should benefit all of humanity. Only humans can conceptualize and implement a sustainable planet. Each person has a stake in the future of the planet and each should benefit from a commitment to sustainability.

LRC Director Mark Rea, PhD, gave an invited address at the 2009 Professional Lighting Design Convention in Berlin, where he articulated the principles of sustainability and placed lighting design and science in that context. He was able to show through a series of charts that the price of lighting is at or near an all-time low. Lighting has become a commodity and the future of lighting design, traditionally seen as a value-added service, may also become a commodity. However, he offered the tangible possibility that by incorporating scientific principles into design, it may be possible for the lighting professional to maintain profitability, conserve our natural resources and, perhaps most importantly, improve human welfare. 

The following is a copy of Dr. Rea’s PowerPoint presentation from that address.