koerner design wins US DOE sustainable luminaire design competition

I am thrilled to announce that Koerner Design has won a prestigious design competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy hosted a Manufacturing Innovator Challenge focused on the Sustainable Manufacturing of Luminaires and Koerner Design has won first place.

A classic format, made truly sustainable: We have taken linear pendants for commercial office applications and used innovative materials to dramatically reduce the embodied energy, reduce toxicity and reduce both production and EOL disassembly costs to create a fixture that is ready for the circular economy. You can check out the gallery of images below or download the complete competition entry in PDF format at the bottom of this post.

Special thanks to the teams at Lamboo, Jiva Materials, LumaNEXT, and Corning for helping ground this design with real solutions.

Pushing the lighting industry to completely rethink our ambitions for sustainable and circular economy products and solutions has been a personal focus of mine for many years. The LED revolution turned entire lighting fixtures into disposable, e-waste junk. We took a model that worked great for decades – replaceable and repairable sockets and lamps – and completely threw it away in the name of LED thermal efficacy and cost reduction. There was no excuse for manufacturers to take this route. Other roads could have been taken.

I’ve presented at several conferences hosted by the excellent U.S. DOE SSL team. At the 2014 U.S. DOE SSL R&D Workshop in Tampa, I laid out a vision for how embracing the circular economy in the lighting industry would reduce costs and therefore drive adoption of energy-efficient LED luminaires in my presentation titled The Evolution of Adoption. I was delighted when this resonated throughout the audience. So many “eco” fixtures are simply tired old formats made slightly “less bad” for marketing green-washing, with customers sadly thinking that sustainability must cost more. I think the workshop audience readily embraced that the lighting industry could pursue a better way. Later, the SSL team even adopted a section supporting research into sustainability as a way to reduce costs and drive adoption in the Solid State Lighting R&D Manufacturing Roadmap. I was delighted to have positively impacted a Federal-level program!

Striving to launch game-changing sustainable products and solutions is brutally hard. I can only offer my support to any of you trying to pursue truly sustainable projects. It proved easier for me to change the US Federal Government than it was for me to change a multi-national corporate lighting company.

But you know what? Good ideas never die, I don’t give up and our planet needs radical solutions. So once again, I’m bringing to life a design concept filled not with slick technologies, but common-sense, old-school design to solve real customer needs and make a real impact. And I’m putting it out in the public domain to encourage other manufacturers to think different, too.