LEDs are a revolutionary new lighting technology that reduce energy consumption, allow lighting to be programmed by computer and permit wide variations in lighting color. LEDs use chips, not bulbs, so emit a lot less heat than incandescent or even fluorescent lamps. Made with computer chips, they are easily dimmable and programmable.
A good example is a new product from Herman Miller that's winning design awards. Shown below, the Leaf personal light offers maximum lighting options with less material, in an intriguing, organic form and with controls that invite human participation. The proprietary technology also addresses the most vexing problems in existing LED solutions — light intensity and heat buildup. It draws only eight to nine watts of power, about 40% less than a compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb with the same light output.
"Leaf is designed to give the user a full spectrum of choices to express light's magical and sensory variations," says designer Yves Behar. "It lets human senses become engaged by allowing the user to choose the intensity and color of light which best suits a functional need, mood or location." 89 Leaf was developed according to Herman Miller's demanding Design for the Environment (DfE) protocol, emphasizing sustainable
processes, materials and recyclability. Leaf's environmental impact is perhaps most profound through its use. On average, Leaf's LEDs consume little power, last up to 100,000 hours and cut energy use significantly compared even to CFLs.
LEDs are already in major use in traffic signals, as cities and counties throughout the country are using them to replace standard bulbs. In addition to saving energy, the LEDs' long life reduces maintenance costs for replacing burned-out bulbs by almost 90%. A lighting design colleague of mine recently used LEDs for highlighting a light-rail bridge, programmed to put on a light show every time a train passed over. The possibilities for using LEDs in lighting design are endless!
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