dMASS Trends and Innovations

This issue focuses on our best finds from last week’s theme:  Lighting.   

Brown on Lighting

Be sure to read our quick interview with founder Howard Brown on the future of lighting from a dMASS perspective.  In it, he identifies three key questions for lighting design and technology:

  1. How can we convert electricity to light more efficiently?
  2. How can we get light only where and when we need it?
  3. How close can we get to eliminating energy in generating lighting?

The End of the Lightbulb?

One of the major shifts happening in lighting is away from point source bulbs toward LED sheets, panels, films, strips, and walls.  Advancements in carbon nanotubes are enabling the production of thinner, more efficient panels.

The progression is toward the integration of lighting with building infrastructure and other design elements.  Designer Jonas Samson has conceived a new way to integrate LEDs into walls.  This “light-emitting wallpaper” does away with need for fixtures and bulbs.  Lighting company Lomax is developing a paint for light-emitting walls that use more efficient OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). 
These changes have the potential to eliminate a lot of mass, yet deliver better, more functional lighting where it’s needed, with the added benefit of appearing natural.  Of course a major shift away from our current bulb-and-fixture systems will require adjustments in infrastructure design.  A representative from Osram Sylvania likens the needed adjustments to the change buildings underwent during the transition from gas to electric lamps.

New Labels Put Spotlight on Performance

Nutrition facts” for lighting are coming to a store near you.  Manufacturers will soon have to display lighting output (lumens), watts, and information about color.  With more lighting options available, this should help customers compare and understand exactly what they’re buying.  For those who think in terms of what a typical 75 watt incandescent provides, it will take a little time to get used to thinking in terms of lighting output.  But, it’s a great step forward for helping people think about performance.  Shoppers will be able to quickly see the relationship between watts and lumens – between the energy the bulb requires and the light it generates.

Green Materials

If you’re looking for newly available materials, Material Connexion produces a newsletter that describes fresh additions to their subscription database.  This month’s additions include several low-impact, recycled, and renewable materials.  For inspiration, you might also check out Inventables, which brands itself as “the innovator’s hardware store.” 
If you’re interested in sustainable design and looking for a way to integrate design and materials selection, you’ll soon have an exciting new option.   Granta Material Intelligence and Autodesk are teaming up to help designers choose the “greenest materials.”  Using a new version of Autodesk, designers will be able to access data from Granta, learn about the impact of their design as first conceived, and get suggestions on alternative materials.  This fits nicely with Autodesk’s  sustainability workshop series, which promotes whole systems design and “lightweighting,” a materials reduction strategy. 

dMASS Examples

  • One designer has employed a host of strategies, including controls, efficient technologies, and daylighting to create “the office of the future.”  The final design beats  California lighting standards by 75 percent, yet put comfort first.
  • Cities are dimming the lights at night, both for energy savings and to address night pollution. 
  • Walmart has a major program underway to convert lighting to LEDs in hundreds of store parking lots for energy and maintenance savings.
  • A new solar energy technology allows electronics to collect power from any light sources; the first application is being used to make self-sufficient building sensors
  • Ad-air is a new technology for making plastic that uses a fraction of the material but is equally strong.  Explore the link for a few more inspiring new green materials profiled by Fast Company. 
Some examples from biomimicry:

Coming Up!

Our theme for the week of February 7th is shipping.  Connect with us on Twitter (@dmass_net) to hear what we’re finding and share your thoughts.  You’ll find a summary and insights in next week’s newsletter.

You can hear about this and more daily on Facebook too!

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