Task lighting selection

It’s mundane to most of you, I know. Choosing an appropriate task light shouldn’t break the brain bank. It took us months, however, to find just the right task light for our offices. This tiny but important decision reflects accurately the level of detail we put into every decision at the Green Garage. Because it’s all a learning process. We’ll accept nothing but the most sustainable product we can locate, and we needed to give a lot of thought as to how it would be used. If you’re married to a designer or architect, perhaps you live with this careful approach to decision-making and understand intuitively what I’m talking about. The people who participated in our design discussions understand this, too. This is the deep study we’ve been conducting for the past 4 years, in all levels of sustainability.

Our final choice was the Z-bar mini, made by Koncept. It costs $135 per unit. I think I just heard you gulp. Yes, it has a big up-front cost, but hear me out before calling us elitist, wondering where our triple bottom line went to.  Here’s a picture of the little guy:

Z bar mini
We did indeed make this decision based on our triple bottom line philosophy, and it scored superbly in all categories, including economic. Let’s look at it from the following perspectives:

  1. Environmental integrity: The Z-bar uses 6.5 watts at full power and has a built-in 4-step dimmer to reduce energy usage as needed. It can be recycled at the end of its life as it is made of aluminum. It is made of 40% post-consumer recycled material, and the paint used was water-based. The packaging cardboard is FSC-certified.
  2. Community well-being: Ergonomic features include a head that rotates 360 degrees, a 3-point adjustment, and of course the built-in 4-step dimmer. The color can be ordered in natural or warm, depending on preference. And from our perspective of ‘use only what you need’, we will keep lights on a cart for people to check out and use whenever they need them, then return when a task light may not be necessary.
  3. Economic: The bulbs have a 40,000 hour lifespan (25 years). With the initial purchase of $135, adding a lifetime cost to operate of $32.50, we end up with a total cost of $167.50. If you bought a $30 20W lamp from Staples the numbers would run this way over the same 40,000 hours:
  • Electricity: $100
  • Bulbs: 20Watt GE Halogen Desk Lamp Bulb @ $5.99 each with 2,000 life + Shipping or Travel $4.00 = $9.99…say $10.
  • Number of Bulbs to serve 40,000 hours = 20 bulbs (40,000/2,000)
  • Life Time Bulb Cost = $200 for 40,000 hours
  • Total Life Cycle Cost = $330 over the life of the lamp

Conclusion: Z-bar Mini LED Lamp is about one-half the life cycle cost ($167.50 vs. $330.00).

Interesting, isn’t it? If you ever read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about mastery of an area taking about 10,000 hours of practice – sheer, hard work. The more we work at this sustainability thing here at the Green Garage, the more we understand this. Even with these supposedly tiny decisions. It’s all important.

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