Shining a light on net zero

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Global Warming: the story so far

Global warming, caused by human activity, is no longer a theory.

The devastating effects are beginning to be seen, in erratic weather patterns: heatwaves; floods and severe storms; loss of polar ice; and rising sea levels. If left unchecked, the dire consequences are here for all to see.

It was at the Paris Agreement in 2015, that for the first time, the world’s nations came together to agree to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The plan that came out of the Paris Agreement was to create a net zero world by 2050. Put simply, net zero is the balance between the greenhouse gases produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away.

The UK takes a lead on net zero

The UK took a lead, in 2019, by becoming the world’s first major economy to pass laws to achieve net zero by 2050.

The country had already made good progress by reducing emissions by 42% at the same time as growing the economy by 72%, since 1990. However, much more has to be done by Government and every sector of the economy to hit the 2050 target.

This has led to the Net Zero Strategy published in October 2021, which sets out how the UK will deliver on its commitment to reach net zero by 2050.

The Strategy builds on the Government’s 10-point plan which includes measures to quadruple our offshore wind capacity by 2030, drive the growth of low carbon hydrogen, invest in the next generation of nuclear energy, accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles and make our buildings more energy efficient.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment

A key element in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy is the plan to decarbonise commercial, industrial and public sector buildings. Reducing carbon emissions in buildings is critical to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

The built environment represents 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

To reduce carbon emissions in buildings it’s necessary to understand the difference between embodied and operational carbon, and the importance of reducing both.

Embodied Carbon is the amount of carbon emitted during the construction of a building. This includes the extraction of raw materials, manufacture and refinement of materials, transport, the building phase of the structure, and the deconstruction and disposal of materials at the end of the life of the building.

Operational Carbon is the amount of carbon emitted during the operational phase of the building. This includes the use, management, and maintenance of the structure.

Carbon Offsetting is when emmission reductions or removals acheived by one entity can be used to compensate or offset emissions from another.*

*Source: LETI

To reach net zero, some emissions will have to be offset, however the priority should be to reduce operational and embodied carbon emissions as much as possible before offsetting. Whilst those emission impacts may not be fully realised today, the choices we make can have both positive and negative long-term impacts.

Do more to reduce your carbon impact

To reach net zero aspirations, the construction industry needs transformational change, which has to start now. For this to happen, today’s lighting solutions need to go far beyond simply meeting the efficiency targets for the here and now. We need to work together to consider, challenge and understand the long-term impacts of the choices we make. Only by doing this can we start to play our part.

Below highlights 5 considerations we as lighting designers and manufactures can make to reduce our impacts now and into the future.

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Our partnerships with our clients aren’t only to provide the best possible lighting solutions and support in the here and now, but to understand what their needs are for the future and to embark on research and development to ensure we are the number one lighting company to meet those needs.

Your partner on projects targeting net zero

A partnership approach with our clients is key in achieving sustainability through the lifetime of the building. It’s only by adopting a continued dialogue, that we can provide lighting solutions that offer commercial benefit and reduce carbon impacts on the environment.

It’s by engaging in a meaningful way that we have developed our approach to circularity and a service for existing buildings undergoing regeneration and decarbonisation.

Our Vitality products are designed for the circular economy. They are modular, upgradeable and designed to last using high quality components. In addition, they come with complete data transparency in the form of material health EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations). Further product integrity and efficacy is provided by accreditation from an independent third party, the Cradle to Cradle Products institute.

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Vitality Relight is a service for existing buildings that offers the opportunity to make significant operational savings as well as conserving the original embodied carbon associated with the building’s construction. 

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Your simple guide to net zero

The guide seeks to move beyond luminaire, talking about efficiency by breaking down five key areas that should be considered when seeking to decarbonise commercial lighting.

Get your copy here