LED bulbs pay off in the long run

USA Today

June 16, 2013

They cost more now, but light-emitting diodes are shining brighter and lasting longer than traditional light bulbs.

If the next light bulb you buy is an LED, it may be your last.

The technology behind light-emitting diodes has advanced to the point that the bulbs can replace traditional 40- and 60-watt light bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.

“You’re going to see people say, ‘I’m taking my light bulbs with me to my new home,'” says Bill Nottingham of Nottingham Spirk, a Cleveland-based industrial design company that’s working on LED lighting technology.

Traditional light bulbs are on the way out. The U.S. mandated a phaseout of the most common wattages of incandescent bulbs; inefficient 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs will not be sold after 2014.

And the future looks bright for the LED market. Now old-school manufacturers like GE and Philips and younger players like Feit Electric, Cree and Elite are battling it out for shelf space in the lighting sections at big-box stores.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY OLD BULBS?

Dating back to Thomas Edison, incandescent light bulbs mostly produced heat instead of light. Over the last two decades, halogens and compact fluorescents have improved the energy efficiency of bulbs. But they’re no match for LED technology. LEDs last up to 10 times longer than compact fluorescents while providing the same amount of light. And, unlike other bulbs, LEDs put off only a small amount of heat and rarely break.

SOUNDS GREAT. WHAT’S THE CATCH?

In a word: price. While an eight-pack of incandescents costs about $3 at the local big-box store, a single LED bulb can cost between $20 and $50. The high price tag may make it too expensive to outfit your entire home with LEDs at once. But while you’re making the switch, test out bulbs from different manufacturers to see what works best for you.

Forecasters expect prices to drop as technology improves. “As you see price points drop to the $8 to $10 range, you’ll start to see some real adoption there,” says Joe Gullo, a former GE lighting executive who’s now leading Rambus, an LED designer. “That’s probably four to five years out.”

SO WHAT SHOULD A CONSUMER DO?

Know that LEDs are getting better and cheaper all the time—and, no matter the price, they’re a good investment. They’ll save you money on your electric bill and the cost of buying new bulbs. Plus they open you up to some neat uses of wireless technology: Imagine dimming your lights from an iPhone app instead of a wall switch.

“LEDs are ‘chip-on-board’ products; you can control LEDs without even using a light switch. [You’ll be able] to turn your lights on and off remotely. You can decide what type of light temperature you want in your home. This is the next generation,” says Mark Voykovic, The Home Depot light bulb expert.

This article is excerpted from USA TODAY Green Living magazine. The special publication contains articles on sustainable living, green products, DIY projects, and people and companies helping to save the planet. Get an eco-friendly version for your tablet or computer at zinio.com/usatodaymags.

Original story can be found online

How to build a green city

The Wall Street Journal 

March 30, 2013image

As more people pack into cities, the environmental risks are growing—and so are the calls to make urban areas greener.

What’s the best way to tackle this job? And how can leaders navigate the challenges?

Richard M. Daley was mayor of Chicago as it undertook an ambitious program to make the city greener. Here are edited excerpts of his remarks.

On the priorities when making a city green

You have to ask, what’s your responsibility to the city? First of all, cleanliness. Picking up trash.

AeroFarms won last year’s ECO:nomics vote for most cutting-edge, eco-friendly company. Now CEO David G. Rosenberg talks was WSJ’s Alan Murray about how his company has progressed in the last year.

After that, you start doing landscaping, basically planting trees, which is important to the air quality. You get people who have not worked involved in this effort through a re-entry program. You also have to explain why you’re doing it.

When we started the effort in Chicago, the media said, “Why are you spending this money on trees? You’re just beautifying the city.” You have to explain to them how environmentally important that is.

Then you have to have the city lead by example. Usually, government mandates everybody else to do it and exempts themselves. We said, we’re going to start being a green government. All public buildings are basically built with the U.S. Green Building Council.

We also have a green center of technology to educate developers, architects, engineers, contractors, trade associations and unions. There’s also permitting. If you’re going to build green, give them a special permit to do that as quickly as possible. You also look at the water situation and conservation.

The public doesn’t always understand sustainability, but they want somebody to lead on it. And from my experience, we don’t have a national plan for the environment. It’s basically the city and the private sector or not-for-profits.

And as you do all this, you need the business community to become your advisers and to work with them. They have to be part of the solution, the same as with the not-for-profits and citizens. There always has to be that. Government cannot do all of it alone.

On planning and funding ambitious green projects

We should have a commission representing federal, state and local governments, and the business community. You would need a three-quarters vote to make decisions.

And where does the money come from? Look at offshore profits that companies are making. Bring them back at a 5% tax. Then say that the companies are going to contribute 15% into an infrastructure fund each year. At a national level, every company. And then X amount of money will come from local and state governments.

You also look at the rules and regulations that are involved to see if you can save money there. Let’s say you’re doing a water and sewer project, not just in Chicago but including Indiana and Wisconsin. Let’s say one of those areas has certain laws, rules and regulations that cost more money than anyone else. Maybe it just costs more money and doesn’t get you better safety or better efficiency. So you can cut down the cost of the project by looking at that.

A version of this article appeared March 26, 2013, on page R2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: How to Build a Green City.

Original article can be found online