Context Presentation

When it comes to evaluate the quantifiable effects of products or services on the environment, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is probably the most efficient and recognized tool. Thanks to a “cradle to grave” approach, LCA identifies and quantifies, throughout the life of products, the physical flows of matter and energy associated with human activities (extraction of raw materials, manufacturing of the product, distribution, use, collection and disposal towards end-of-life). For each of its flows correspond impact indicators which allow to establish the overall potential impact of the system on our environment. With regard to lighting, “smart” technologies have made it possible to improve energy efficiency during use phase and thus greatly limit its impact on the environment.

Before the development of these new technologies, lighting represented 14% of European consumption and 19% of global electricity consumption (2009). Today, the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) estimates it at 15 % worldwide (2,940 TWh) for 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (1,150 million tonnes of CO2). However, despite major advances in terms of energy efficiency, many direct or indirect impacts on our environment, our health, well-being and productivity are not considered, and we can no longer neglect these impacts.

It is then necessary to define a new methodology, which will allow the extension of the classic LCA by taking into account several health and social criteria, in particular regarding the potential ”impacts on human” ( blue light and impacts on circadian rhythms); the "impacts on ecosystems" (light pollution, potential impacts on insects and plants population); the several “uses of light” (residential, commercial, public lighting, etc.); or even "social acceptability on and by the user of the system" (security, comfort, working conditions, etc.). The aggregation of these criteria, with a classic life cycle assessment and a life cycle cost analysis (cumulative cost of a product throughout its life cycle), will give a global vision (economic, social and environmental) of the potential impacts of lighting and will helps to offer a decision support tool for establishing coherent and appropriate strategies around the transformation of our lighting systems.

 light-bulbs - Kévin BERTIN


Life Cycle Assessment, LED, Lighting Systems, Environmental Impacts

Scientific goal

•    Evaluating the global impacts of lighting technologies, and helping the decision making regarding lighting strategies.