Case study examples – Recolight Circular Lighting Conference (blog part 1)

21st September 2023 – Part 1

In the context of circular economy and in particular reuse, I had not really thought about lighting much further than the ‘pay per lux’ Signify offer often quoted. Having spent the day at the Recolight Circular Lighting Live 2023 conference ( ) I now appreciate that take back and remanufacturing, whilst still not quite mainstream, is more prevalent than I realised.

As Recolight’s post event press release states ‘the reuse of luminaires is being normalised’, with chairman Ray Molony adding further:

Major commercial real estate developers, their architects and design teams are beginning to either reuse luminaires from a retrofit project itself or, in an increasing number of cases, use luminaires from a completely different building. This imaginative new thinking is leading to new business models and the growth of a vibrant remanufacturing sector in the lighting industry. Remanufacturers take used lights, upgrade them to the latest efficient LEDs and wireless controls and then – crucially – warranty them.”

Melanie Martin at ORMS gave some great case study examples in the first presentation of the day, covering 10 Spring Gardens and 20 Air Street in London where materials were reused wherever possible and materials they did not need were taken out carefully and moved on for reuse elsewhere if feasible to do so.  10 years ago it was normal practice to strip out and start again, now it is ‘how little can we change for maximum impact’.  The fundamental element is to ensure that the strip out contractors fully understand the brief, and the ethos and timings required in delivering reuse -if not you may end up with far less reusable products and materials than you had anticipated – and far more heading for a skip to be downcycled or incinerated.

ORMS is doing a lot of work around the creation and use of materials passports, and they advocate the creation of a BIM model that has been asset tagged to operate as a digital twin. Once a material is given an identity, it can be tracked either from design  to construction in a new building or for  deconstruction, for example, where it has a QR code tagged to it to enable scanning on the spot allowing it to be tracked back into a BIM model.

ORMS‘ conviction and belief in reuse has led to companies in their supply chain widening their offer to incorporate circular practices, such as Optima, who have a service to move their partitioning systems within a building or to a different building for clients, and also a take back and remanufacture service. The ASBP are delighted to have Optima as one of our Reuse Now campaign sponsors.

Another crucial aspect of the 20 Air Street project was that the client bought into the concept of NOT fitting out all the floors, but only fitting out a small proportion of one floor to show potential tenants what was possible. This Category A/ Category B fit out scenario needs to be taken up by all landlords as the waste produced in this part of the built environment sector is obscene.

A number of great lighting remanufacturing case studies were put forward.. Future Designs are one of the UK’s biggest lighting remanufacturers with 3M sqft of London office space already benefiting from their Carbon Careful initiative . They offer the refurbishment, reuse and restoration of existing lights and lighting systems and use Photopia (software to design and analyse non-imaging and illumination optical systems directly in SOLIDWORKS and Rhino) to ensure the best lighting solutions are used for each project.

Next in the spotlight were two Signify project case studies, one from Dublin Port Tunnel LED Lighting Upgrade where 1800 lights were replaced into reused housings,  fully tested & CE marked, saving just under 60% in electricity, and a Rolls Royce remanufactured lighting project (ongoing) of the demounting, repair/ refurbish/ remanufacture and then re-installation of between 600-1200 pieces resulting in an estimated 22% overall carbon saving. A third and ‘ultra low carbon’ project by Silent Design in partnership with Casembi lighting controls for Building Crafts College demonstrated how lights could be reused from one project into another with very little adaption required and combined with the upgrading with existing lighting in other areas.

Two common themes from the 12 innovative lighting designs picked by Recolight’s Ray Maloney were the use of recycled and upcycled materials, and design for disassembly, with one light being made from ‘dialled up’ old computer monitors.

If you want to find out more about the circular economy from a lighting perspective there is lots of information on the Recolight website .

For information about circular economy in the built environment, and in particular reuse, take a look at the Alliance of Sustainable Building Products website and find our more about our Reuse Now Campaign. Reuse Now aims to increase the reuse of construction products and materials through:

  • Practical focus by exploring supply chain barriers and develop solutions
  • Open dialogue and sharing of knowledge between reuse material donors/recipients and wider ecosystem to enable greater uptake
  • Learn from what others have done to progress quickly (not everyone doing their own research)

For more information please get in touch

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