Article: Our Plan for Sustainability (2022 Update)

March 15, 2024 Deborah Perkins

At eldoLED, we’re consistently pioneering efficient ways for users to light space with LEDs. One of the most effective is to avoid producing more light than users need. Customers today choose our  high efficiency LED drivers for their superior dimming performance—including flicker-safe dimming and Dim to Dark capabilities.

Now, we’re finding new ways to meet our environmental responsibility by rethinking the design of our products and by greening our operations. By doing so, we’re contributing to a multi-year sustainability plan by Acuity Brands.

We're eldoLED Brand Video - YouTube

Sustainability at the Heart of Our Company

Since our start in 2003, we always prioritized one element—Quality of Light. High efficiency LED drivers that enable Quality of Light can have longer driver lifetimes and yield more energy and cost-savings through their flexibility, interoperability and dimming capabilities.

We recently adjusted our mission and vision statements to better align with our sustainability initiatives. Our mission is to deliver smart, quality and scalable digital lighting technology for our customers, our communities and our planet. This is consistent with our vision of enhancing life with light.

Customers agree that our interactions with the lighting design community leave no doubt that the environmental impact of lighting is a top priority for specifiers and users alike. Reiterating the message that we cannot sustain our relationship with customers and end users without taking environmental responsibility for our products.

Our eldoLED sustainability program is part of the wider EarthLIGHT initiative of Acuity Brands. Earthlight’s plan sets ambitious goals for the performance of the group in terms of environmental impact, social responsibility and governance.

Environmental goals include:

  • 25% reduction in group-wide energy consumption by 2022 compared with the 2019 baseline

  • 25% reduction in carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per dollar of revenue) compared with 2019

  • 25% improvement in the CO2 footprint of the raw materials the company uses compared with 2019

Greening eldoLED Operations [Update]

In November, we added 1100 solar panels to the roof of our Son Facility to generate clean, renewable energy. This was an exciting step in the right direction—but we needed to cover all the elements of the weather. Our ongoing efforts and discussions surrounding sustainability ignited our colleagues and we vetted new and existing suppliers to make our next move.

As a result, we paid for 100% green energy to complement our solar panels. This energy is locally sourced from windmills in the Netherlands and is used when solar energy is not an option. By purchasing locally sourced green energy, we’re reducing our C02 footprint and contributing an equivalent C02 absorption rate of 11,000 trees per year. Our solar panels contributed 66,556 kwH of energy to our facility within five months of operation.

Our efforts—combined with the Acuity Brands EarthLIGHT initiative—are contributing to more sustainable-conscious solutions and propelling us to investigate other facets of our business.

Solar Panel Video | eldoLED - YouTube

A heat exchanger for space heating has also superseded a gas-fired heating system. The company’s direct gas consumption for space heating fell from more than 52,000m3 in 2017 to almost zero in 2019—the heat exchanger’s first full year of operation. Now, the gas heating system is only used in periods of extreme cold weather and as a back-up heater for when the heat-pump system is undergoing maintenance or repair.

 The eldoLED Office goes green - YouTube

Designing Products for Sustainability

Our part in the EarthLIGHT plan has two important elements. The first is a program to reduce the environmental footprint of our products. This is partly about minimizing the environmental impact of customers’ use of the products. High efficiency eldoLED drivers for sale globally comply with the most stringent energy standards applied anywhere. Specifications such as ENERGY STAR® in the US and the European Union’s Code of Conduct for Power Supplies set high efficiency benchmarks for lighting equipment.

We also play an active part in industry groups such as the GreenLight Alliance. The GreenLight Alliance facilitates collaboration between manufacturers and users in efforts to implement the concept of the circular economy.

Driver Recyclability Investigation [2022 Update]

Another area we investigated was LED driver recyclability. The original hope was to break the LED driver into smaller pieces and recycle all elements. We also hoped the recycling process could efficiently accommodate LED driver deconstruction. Our investigation with a prominent European recycling/waste processing firm yielded the following obstacles.

Obstacle 1: Process and Perception

LED drivers aren’t recycled in isolation—they’re processed with the luminaire and other electronics. This type of recycling business is in its infancy and its recycling process for Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBAs) isn’t as robust.

For reference, up to 60% of the LED driver weight is comprised of PCBAs—which includes metals such as copper and gold fractions. Instead of breaking down each portion of the LED driver, the recycling process turns the PCBAs into heat and energy.

While certain waste—such as shredded PCBAs—is embraced as a welcome fuel, we found this problematic as it contributes the emission of harmful gasses and substances.

Obstacle 2: Cost Effectiveness

LED drivers are a small element in the bigger electronic picture. Our original vision of recycling all the raw materials is a manual, hand-picked effort. Recycling these materials is only advantageous if the parts are extracted in bulk at a low price.

The low amount of LED drivers available for waste processing results in a higher cost to breakdown. Making it a balancing act between sustainable ideals and financial realism.

Obstacle 3: Recycling Availability and Transportation

Our investigation also uncovered that specific recycling locations specialize in individual recycling processes. Some of the melting processes necessary for LED drivers are only available in 11 sites worldwide. The unintended consequence is the processing companies must transport materials—either by ship or truck—thousands of kilometers to undergo the next process. Ultimately, causing extra C02 emission.

This serves as an obstacle for brands with a global footprint. Begging the question—how do you balance environmental responsibility with the consequences of extensive transportation?

Post-Investigation Takeaways and Action Items

While there are obstacles to our vision on driver recyclability, we’re not deterred. We identified additional ways we can help from a product-perspective and are actively working to receive buy-in.

We also realized there’s a nuance with recycling and business models. Recycling is often discussed within the consumer/end-user framework—and it’s not as common within business-to-business (B2B). We’re continuously working with our customers and suppliers to start thinking within this mindset as we continue the shift towards our ultimate goal—having high-performance LED drivers that are 100% recyclable.

In the meantime, we committed to having our own waste—both product and office—processed locally per European ISO 14001 certification. The referenced ISO certification is an international standard with requirements for environmental management systems. Based on the standards, we formulated a policy and a proceeding with implementation via separate waste streams for products and office that only certified recycling and transportation companies can handle. This is in compliance with the two frameworks used in the Netherlands to measure environmental impact—Activiteitenbesluit (law/regulation-focused) and Milieuzorgsysteem (environmental aspect-focused).

Green Agenda in Tune with the eldoLED Philosophy

Long before the founding of the GreenLight Alliance, the California Energy Alliance, the Alliance to Save Energy—and other industry groups in which Acuity Brands participateswe were committed to a philosophy of design which minimized resource use.

This encompasses the functioning of the products—supporting user-friendly dimming so that lights can operate at reduced power. It also dictates the design of our products in which form fits function. We apply a ‘less is more’ is a design throughout our organization.

Our continued commitment to environmental responsibility across every aspect of our operations comes naturally. Together, eldoLED and the wider family of Acuity Brands companies are now on track to greater sustainability, for the good of customers, stakeholders and the whole planet.

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