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    How Environmental Product Declarations are helping green the lighting industry

    Sustainability has become a crucial issue for corporations in recent years, and many are seeking to more accurately define their sustainability targets and sharpen their efforts to hit them.

     

    One way companies can affirm their sustainability efforts is by issuing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for the items they manufactureor, on the procurement side, requesting them from manufacturers. Either way, EPDs stimulate manufacturers to identify key areas for improvement in terms of sustainability. EPDs have become particularly important in the construction sector, but they’ve also been making their way into areas related to that sector, like heating and electrification.

     

    They’re starting to see wider use in lighting, too. But before we get to why EPDs are so relevant to the lighting sector, let’s first define exactly what an EPD is.

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    An EPD: Offering sustainability information

     

    EPDs are documents that provide information about a number of different environmental indicators relating to a product over its complete lifecycle: what its carbon footprint is; how much energy it uses; to what extent it contributes to air pollution; what in the way of resources are consumed during its production, transport, and use; and so on.

     

    In addition, an EPD indicates what environmental impact a product will have once it reaches the end of its life, at which point it might be recycled, added to a landfill, or even reused. An EPD is essentially a verified version of what’s known as a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the product—a document that analyzes the product’s lifetime environmental impacts.

     

    What’s driving the EPD boom?

     

    Recent years have seen a spike in the number of EPDs issued by companies. Indeed, the EPD has become an internationally accepted way of assessing and communicating environmental impact in B2B interactions.

     

    Recent years have also seen attempts to standardize Life-Cycle Assessment Studies and EPDs. The goal here is both transparency and inter-applicability, making it possible to use EPDs in different industry sectors or countries and improving comparability, the ability to make apple-to-apple comparisons among products in the same category.

     

    National and international associations and programs, like France’s EcoPassport system for related technologies like heating, electricity, and lighting, are also boosting awareness of EPDs. In general, manufacturers have seized on the EPD to confirm their good work in sustainability. But issuing an EPD can also improve a company’s product. By offering insights into how a manufacturer can make a product greener, after all, an LCA study can also offer insights into how to make it better.

     

    What EPDs do for lighting—and what they measure

     

    A growing trend is evident in the lighting business: End-users, like municipalities launching public street-lighting projects and private real estate companies installing lighting in their buildings, have increasingly started requesting Life-Cycle Assessment Studies and EPDs.

     

    In the case of LED lighting hardware, LCA studies typically measure a product’s carbon footprint, to determine what role it will play in climate change. An LCA study will also determine a product’s impact—on the ozone layer, in terms of its tendency towards photo-chemical oxidation, and in terms of its fossil fuel use, among other things.

    Designing LED lighting products for maximum sustainability

     

    At Signify, as part of our effort to foster EPD use in the lighting sector, we’ve identified key sustainability-related points to which professionals making purchase and selection decisions relating the LED luminaires should pay attention.

     
    • Efficiency: More efficient LED luminaires—that is, those with higher lm/W values—are the ones to use. Efficiency value benchmarks vary by application. Exterior applications typically have higher efficiency requirements. At Signify, we aim to deliver the highest possible LED luminaire efficiency. As a general design guideline, we commit to providing at least 10 percent more efficiency than EU EE Class A requires.

     

    • Lifetime: The longer a product’s lifetime, the longer its use phase will be. But it’s also important to assess whether the product will deliver consistent performance during that extended lifetime.

     

    To maximally extend the lifetimes of our luminaires, we at Signify can offer a so-called Circular lighting service contract when supplying our products—essentially a light as a service (LaaS) offering. This means that Signify takes full responsibility for the management and maintenance of lighting hardware throughout its lifetime, as well as for end-of-life management.

     

    • Modularity: Modular products are easier to deal with at the end-of-life stage. They’re easier to disassemble, and it’s easier to recycle and re-use their individual components.

     

    But modularity helps even before the end-of-life stage. It improves product serviceability: Instead of purchasing new hardware, you might be able to replace merely one component part, thus boosting product lifetime. Using applications like the Philips Service tag, you can order individual spare parts for products and identify why a luminaire failed, thereby making maintenance operations more efficient.

     

    • Reusable parts: It’s possible to recycle or re-use certain components when a product reaches its end of life. At Signify, we ensure full compliance with EU RoHS and REACH, which indicate restrictions for hazardous substances.

     

    • PCB (printed circuit board): It’s especially important to look at the design of a LED luminaire’s printed circuit board, which contains the majority of its electrical equipment.

     

    • Weight: The lighter a product, the easier it is to produce, transport, install, repair, and generally work with.

     

    • Recyclability: Certain products, and certain product components, can be fully recycled at end of life. Among the good indicators for evaluating how green a product is are the following: the percentage of recycled content in the bill of materials; the recyclability of the materials at the product’s end of life; and how possible it is to actually recycle the product at its end of life, taking into account geography and the technology available where the product was put on the market.

     

    • Transport and supply chain: Transport and distribution methods can also have significant environmental impact.

     

    • Packaging: Product packaging can increase environmental impact, and deserves attention from manufacturers as well. At Signify we’re committed to using reduced packaging weight or volume by using at least 80 percent recycled paper and 25 percent recycled plastics.

     

    To provide information on material compositions and environmental impact, we at Signify have published a number of EPDs for different LED luminaires in our professional indoor and outdoor portfolios. Please read the EPDs for the Philips Pacific LED, for our Maxos fusion trunking system, and for our PowerBalance luminaire, and feel free to reach out to us with questions.