At LDI in 2009 and at USITT 2010, there was a lot of discussion about sustainability. Hundreds of your current and potential customers attended sessions with “green” in the title and participated in events where sustainability was a topic of discussion. This was an edifying exercise in talking about environmental responsibility, but it is time for our industry to take the next step.

We are writing to ask you to help us support our clients in their efforts in sustainability, which may, at the same time, help you promote your products. While much of our equipment is exempt from ASHRE standards and is not considered directly in LEED building certification, the point is not the certification; it is behaving responsibly.

There are many things already being done by your company that contribute to the cause, like using recycled materials or recycling your manufacturing waste. Please tell us about these efforts. There are many other things that you could start doing over time through the normal course of doing business. For instance, design new products for disassembly and recycling. Companies who have done this have told us that most of these things will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

So, what are we asking of you?
Design for sustainability, and tell us that you:

  • design for easy disassembly and recycling, which equals easy repair.
  • mark plastic components and packaging with SPI codes (those numbers on the bottom of your water bottle).
  • identify components that are toxic, contain hazardous materials, or are non-recyclable, and publish data about those components and their safe disposal.
  • are RoHS-compliant.

Green your day-to-day business and tell us you:

  • recycle manufacturing waste.
  • reduce packaging.
  • use and reuse durable packaging.
  • (if that is not possible, use recycled packaging; if that is not possible, use recyclable FSC-certified packaging; if that is not possible, use FSC-certified biodegradable packaging).
  • accept your durable packaging back from your customers for reuse, and encourage them to return it.
  • publish any carbon offsets purchased.
  • print manuals on FSC-certified papers.
  • publish literature and data sheets online only. Only mail hard copies on request, and print those on FSC-certified papers.
  • offer exchange/recycling programs (some computer manufacturers and scenery fabricators do this today).

Publish data on items that will help with LEED certification:

  • recycled content
  • source location
  • FSC certification on wood elements and packaging
  • Energy Star certification
  • UL environment certification

Publish data that will allow users to make smart choices:

  • life cycle cost data based on ISO 14040 series methodology; this will allow us to compare apples to apples.
  • electrical efficiency when operating under load: include harmonic load on all electrical data.
  • electrical draw when energized, but not under load; for instance, a dimmer or power amplifier that is at 0 but powered or a fogger not actively producing fog.
  • electrical draw when off.
  • engineered life expectancy.

Organize your standards-making body to assist us in using your products by creating new standards or adopt existing standards for:

  • displaying sustainability info on product data sheets.
  • Energy Star certification, where specifications do not exist.
  • measuring brightness of illumination when measured in a broad spectrum so the brightness of non-traditional lighting sources may be compared to traditional sources (weight it for human perception).
  • sharing how the sources change over time, in the short term (initial strike and several minutes later), and long term (over the rated life of the source).
  • describing the spectrum of the light produced by a source (color temperature was sufficient when everything was broad spectrum by its nature, but with non-traditional sources, such as LEDs and short arc lamps, there are frequencies that are missing from their output).
  • sharing how it behaves over time in terms of spectrum; this might be a second line on that graph.

We realize these things cannot happen overnight. We understand that ours is a small industry and changes have to happen over time to be affordable, but we can start down that road, and we can let everybody know we are doing it. Together we can create a change in our industry that will benefit us all.

Curtis Kasefang is trained as a lighting designer and embarking on his 20th year as a theatre consultant. He is a principal with Theatre Consultants Collaborative, LLC. Prior to his consulting work, he was a production manager for a four-theatre complex. He also chairs his local Historic Districts Commission. He will participate in the Green Day Think Tank at LDI2010.