Perspective, Projects, Uncategorized

Making Healthier Specification Decisions Starts with Material Transparency

This content was originally published in LD+A magazine by the Illuminating Engineering Society, one of LightFair’s three co-owners. Read the original article by Melissa Mattes: Seeking Material Transparency

Melissa Mattes IALD, LC LEED Green Associate
Living Future Ambssador
Senior Lighting Designer / Sustainability Specialist
Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting Inc.

Did you know…
the built environment is responsible for nearly 40% of all global GHG emissions

When it comes to sustainability, energy efficiency is usually on top of everyone’s minds, but that is only one aspect of sustainable design. It is rare to see larger discussions of holistic project goals encompassing topics like materiality ideals across the entire architectural, engineering and consultant teams. 

Material transparency is a key part of the conversation when making informed decisions about the products we specify, and their impact on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, health and well-being.

Lighting manufacturers at LightFair

In 2020, Melissa Mattes and her team at Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting Inc. undertook an industrywide survey with a two-fold purpose:

  • to gain greater insight into human health, climate impact, and social health and equity impacts of the products being specified in the lighting industry
  • to gauge manufacturers’ current familiarity with the labels and certifications available which quantify this data, as well as a five-year lookahead on product development prioritizing material disclosure to provide insight into human health and climate impacts

First of its kind in the lighting industry, the team’s groundbreaking research led to important conversations on sustainable lighting and material transparency.

Read the full article on Seeking Material Transparency here.

Sustainability Solutions: Start by Asking the Right Questions

After evaluating the responses to the survey through the lenses of Human Health, Climate Impact and Ethical and Social Justice, the study offers conversation starters and takeaways to help manufacturers and specifiers committed to holistic sustainable goals.

The first step for specifiers is to start by asking manufacturers and lighting reps some key questions, the answers to which will help us move towards greater material transparency and holistic sustainability as an industry. These include:

  • What is your stance on material health?
  • Do you offer any products with material transparency labels such as Declare, HPDs, EPDs, etc.?
  • Do you offer PVC-free wire casing for your products as a standard offering or possible modification?
  • Do you offer any take-back programs for your products or information on end-of-life suggestions for the product?
  • Is the product easily serviceable for replacement parts on-site? (For example, LED boards and drivers.)
  • If not today, do you have any planned future offerings for products with these criteria?

Join Melissa Mattes and other speakers at the LightFair Conference on June 21, 2022 as they unpack the topic in a 90-minute/1.5 CEU session.

The Future of Sustainable Lighting: Moving Beyond Energy Efficiency
L22DT2 | June 21 | 4:30 – 6 pm
Speakers: Karen Jess-Lindsley (Lindsley Lighting), Melissa Mattes (Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting), Jane White (Finelite), Jon Penndorf (Perkins & Will)

Course Description: With the advent of LEDs and sophisticated controls we have significantly improved the energy efficiency of lighting, but we are far behind other building materials in offering sustainable product solutions. This multi-disciplinary panel will explore data and perspectives from Lighting Design, Architecture and Manufacturing: What’s driving interest in sustainable buildings? What’s the current state of sustainability in the lighting industry? How do sustainability requirements impact lighting design? What does it mean to be a “sustainable” manufacturer? What are the challenges and broader issues of sustainability?

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