The Environmental Performance Index report for 2016 has not drawn a pretty picture of Australia’s current ecological climate. The report is a bi-yearly ecological overview, ranking countries by their impact on environmental issues, which has seen Australia drop from third to thirteenth in the world since the previous EPI in 2014.
While concerning, these issues have not fallen on deaf ears. The Australian government has begun working with LED lighting companies such as LEDifiedin one of many initiatives to regain the country’s footing in regards to ecological sustainability.
What issues do we face with current energy consumption?
Relatively speaking, we have only recently begun to fully grasp the environmental impact that our society continues to have on the environment, and it has taken even longer for us to properly form ways to correct it. Aside from the cost to individuals and businesses alike, over 97 percentof climate scientists agree that global warming has been directly affected by this overexertion of finite resources and human activities.
Carbon emissions, much of which comes as a byproduct of unclean energy use, has had a lasting effect on our environment, and threatens to get progressively worse without a change in our energy practices.
So why should the installation of LEDs be considered environmental action?
After decades of being dumped in landfills and improperly recycled, fluorescent light bulbs have come under scrutiny for their environmental impact. As many of these contain around 4mg of mercurywhich is released as the fittings begin to break down, the rising number of these bulbs that are being sold is becoming a concern for environmentalists.
While not a major issue individually, the rising number of bulbs that have found themselves in dumps and landfills have created more than just a rise in CO2 emissions.
Mercury travelling from garbage storing areas to groundwater has been documented, and as this can cause significant health risks (especially to young children and foetuses) it has been an area of growing concern as scientists begin to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this process.
LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, have been in practical use since the early 1960s, however their development as an efficient alternative to standard lighting has seen exponential growth in the last 20 years.
While traditional bulbs lose a significant amount of energy to heat, modern LED lights have come to be considered an effective solution to that problem, with an estimated 80% of all energy consumed through their use becoming light with minimal energy transfer. This is how bulbs of this kind are able to maintain luminosity with significantly reduced power consumption, and is the key to their ecological effectiveness.
As areas such as South Australia have had considerable energy scares in recent times, it’s easy to see why these issues are at the forefront of government planning. Australia has been testing different forms of renewable energy with varying results, but with national energy consumption still necessitating less clean forms of power to maintain itself, the message stands that we must find new ways to lower our dependency on these resources.
The goal of the Australian government’s energy initiative is to begin replacing the less-than efficient traditional lighting fixtures of Australian businesses with LED alternatives. Given the efficient power usage and extended lifespan of LED lights when compared with traditional bulbs, this allows Australia to begin the reduction of its dependency on electrical output over the long term.
What benefits have businesses seen from this initiative?
The government’s plan may be seen as a relatively small step in the right direction, but the benefits of these initiatives has been shown to stretch far further than the lessening of commercial energy usage. Businesses that have made the change to LEDs have decreased their overheads significantly through reduced power usage and government incentives, while in turn lowering their CO2 emissionsover the long term.
Along with solar panels, another area of the government’s energy-efficient initiative, the implementation of LED lighting has been steadily growing in the months succeeding its initiation. Whether from environmental awareness or the promise of lowered costs, an increasing number of businesses making the switch has shown an estimated $120 million dollars saved from LEDified alone. This figure means great things for Australia’s environmental push, as all of these savings have come from a drop in energy usage and a boost in electrical efficiency.
A Change in Expectations
A trend that has been observed with many developments in ecological awareness, these initiatives have occurred in tandem with a shift in consumer expectations. As eco-friendly choices become increasingly attainable, and understanding of their benefits more widespread, the environmental expectations of the public have begun to increase. This has pushed businesses to reevaluate their brand image, making energy-efficient choices a statement on their company’s ideals, and not just a way to cut down on costs.
This new leaf turned has had effects outside the business world, as more than ever before, the public attempt to lower their impact on the environment in a plethora of ways. Programs and studiesdiscussing children’s environmental understanding have taken place across the globe, attempting to teach and articulate the possible impact newer generations will have in regard to environmental issues, such as energy consumption. This shows that a change in thinking toward sustainable ecological solutions is well on its way, and both businesses and individuals now have increased expectations in regards to their impact on the world.
Whatever the future holds for Australia’s environmental concerns, it’s promising to see that these relatively minor changes in utilities have had such an impressive impact in the short period of time since their implementation. If this is a trend that continues to expand its reach, it appears hopeful that the country will regain its footing on these pressing ecological issues. We may have to wait until 2018, year of the next planned EPI report, to see if these efforts have been effective in reinstating Australia’s reputation for environmental action, but whatever the outcome, the future’s looking bright for Australian businesses.