Some of the biggest changes in store for green buildings are coming out of television.
In the past couple of years, startups and others have begun to take technologies and ideas originally devised for the television market and port it to lighting. First, there was Luxim
. The company makes a breathmint-sized bulb that puts out as much light as a conventional streetlight. The company has begun to sell its light to illuminate public spaces like cathedrals. The light was originally devised for projection TVs.
Then there is Lumiette
, which will make a flat, florescent bulb originally made for LCD TVs and sell it to contractors and architects as a svelte interior light.
Meanwhile, Eden Park
, a spin out from the University of Illinois, has created a light that pretty much works the same way as a plasma TV: an electronic charge excites phosphors contained in a thin panel and creates light. Seattle's Vu1, in a similar vein, has a bulb that functions like an old CRT set
: an electron gun shoots electrons at phosphors attached to a curved piece of glass.
The companies that tout OLEDs for TVs like Universal Display also want to market them as lights.
And going the other direction, LED makers are selling an increasing number of their light-emitting chips to television makers and notebook manufacturers as energy efficient backlights. Dell is in the process of converting all of its notebooks to LEDs. That should help reduce the cost of manufacturing these things. Right now, the price of LEDs is still tough to swallow.
What's driving this? Need. Lighting consumes 22 percent of the electrical power in the U.S. and many of the current bulbs are incredibly inefficient.Australia, Canada, California and others have passed or are contemplating restrictions on lighting in the next decade.
However, those inefficient bulbs are also cheap. An incandescent bulb might only last 1000 hours, a fraction of the 50,000 hour lifetime of an LED, and use nine times as much power. But it only costs 75 cents. An equivalent LED might cost $90.
Using parts from the TV world, or selling parts to TV makers to get to volume, reduces R&D and production costs.