Simon Fisher, Founder & Director of F Mark Ltd, and Partner of The Regen Initiative, discusses how the lighting industry can overcome the challenges of remanufacturing to harness its vital benefits.
Sustainable lighting is a cause that Simon is passionate about, recently he spoke at the Recolight Remanufacturing Lighting Conference on the 27th of April 2023 and at Grand Designs Live on the 3rd of May 2023 about how to embrace remanufacturing.
Remanufacturing with The Regen Initiative
Remanufacturing requires a complete change in mindset, production and process from the linear take, ‘make waste’ economy, where old light fittings are discarded and replaced with new.
In most cases, the process involves keeping the original luminaire material, known as the Core, and converting the light source to LED. This helps to create a solution that saves energy, time, money, and ultimately, the environment. Remanufacture as a technique goes hand-in-hand with technology upgrades, which is crucial in the lighting industry to keep products modern and introduce new solutions into the market.
The aim of The Regen Initiative partners is to work together and collaboratively to provide more efficient lighting that stands the test of time without compromise, challenging the status quo and striving to provide solutions without sacrificing quality or compromising on safety or ethical standards.
Responsibilities of remanufacturing
Retaining fluorescent is no longer an option due to its imminent obsolescence*. The only options remaining seem to be a) replace old fluorescent with new LED lighting or b) remanufacture old fluorescent and upgrade to LED.
As a result, clients are opening up to the concept of reuse of existing light fittings in projects to achieve both cost savings and sustainability goals by reducing energy usage and carbon output. This is in response to a renewed drive to achieve Net Zero and a recognition that globally we need to reduce our energy and carbon consumption to meet this goal. LED luminaires significantly reduce energy when compared with traditional luminaires, but in many cases luminaires are discarded when they still have life left in them and can benefit from being upgraded to LED solutions.
For the UK to meet energy targets we must look at taking energy out of existing sources. Lighting is the ideal opportunity to look at reducing energy, with significant reductions possible by upgrading existing systems.
The challenges of circular economy lighting
The principle of remanufacturing is more complex than just fitting new and is therefore a more challenging process. While acknowledging that fitting new is easier for the customer, remanufacturing maximises the potential for carbon reduction, capturing all of the embodied and operational benefits available.
Each project should be looked at on an individual, case-by-case basis, as it takes more coordination, and the client and all parties need to be committed. In some instances, remanufacturing might not be physically or financially beneficial, and it is important to consider all options.
This raises the question for clients – if it’s easier to fit new, why should we work harder to remanufacture?
The benefits of embracing remanufacturing
There are a huge number of benefits for clients, including an increase in energy efficiency, resulting in a reduction in operational cost, and an improvement in sustainable credentials by lowering carbon emissions. In addition, remanufacturing offers an opportunity to further upgrade the controls strategy, where wired or wireless dimming can be integrated, along with automated controls and daylight linking deployment, which would result in further energy savings of up to 30%.
Remanufacturing products reduces the carbon burden and reduces waste by keeping existing products in use in line with circular economy principles. It also increases the life of existing products due to longer LED life, coupled with a simplified installation, delivering ultra-long-life solutions lasting for generations to come.
The Regen Initiative can simplify the whole process by managing the remanufacture of products which were originally delivered by multiple OEMs, delivering significant energy savings at scale. A recent example of savings achieved is demonstrated through the remanufacture of existing installed lighting at Arup’s Manchester office.
By swapping from compact fluorescent to LED luminaires, this remanufacture achieved a 72% reduction in energy, and a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by reusing the existing housings of the original fittings. In addition, we upgraded and simplified the control solution from DALI to wireless. This resulted in this single project alone avoided the consumption of over 5500kg of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of over 67,000 plastic bottles.
Lighting a sustainable future with The Regen Initiative
This is where the Regen Initiative shines and is a glowing example of how they are adapting ahead of the rest of the competitors.
It is clear that remanufacturing is a credible option for the lighting industry’s future, and the market is growing quickly in response to this. There is an appetite from the lighting specification community to engage in an alternative to ‘replace with new’. The new British Standard BS8887, which is now in editorial review at BSI, is the code of conduct under which people will remanufacture light fittings. This will mean there is an industry benchmark to adhere to and future consequences for companies that don’t meet requirements
Whilst remanufacturing is not a new phenomenon, The Regen Initiative hope that 2023 will be a landmark year in which this practice becomes a credible alternative to simply replacing lighting for new. By providing manufacturers, suppliers and specifiers with vital insights to help ensure their business stays at the forefront of the sustainable lighting revolution.