Lighting Council Australia (LCA) is the peak representative body for Australia’s lighting industry. Its goal is to encourage the use of environmentally appropriate and energy-efficient quality lighting systems and components in the commercial, outdoor, industrial and residential sectors.
The LCA was originally formed in 2001 as part of the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association (AEEMA). Five years ago, AEEMA merged with another industry association and, as a consequence, LCA established its own industry body. “Since then, the association has gone from strength-to-strength,” says CEO Bryan Douglas.
Lighting Council Australia now has close to 90 member companies. Their membership base includes manufacturers and suppliers of luminaires, control devices, lamps, solid state lighting and associated technologies.
Shaping the regulatory environment
LCA has developed and maintained close relationships with regulators and governments in three key areas – energy efficiency, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electrical safety.
“We help to shape the regulatory environment by the relationships we have with those regulators, and we also engage extensively with our international connections,” Douglas says. “Through Board membership of the Global Lighting Association and by providing the chair for the GLA’s Environmental Working Group, we have a window into the industry at an international level which assists us in shaping our local regulatory environment.”
“Governments around the world consider lighting to be a low-hanging fruit in terms of reaping efficiency dividends,” he continues. “The industry in Australia and elsewhere is under constant pressure to improve the efficiency of its products.”
A recent example of LCA’s work in the regulatory field is extensive input on the new electrical safety scheme, which Australia plans to introduce on March 1, 2013. The Lighting Council worked closely with the electrical safety regulators to develop it. “We strongly support the scheme,” Douglas says. “It will go a long way to ensuring that electrical product placed on the Australian market conforms to mandatory safety requirements.”
Code of Conduct
Lighting Council Australia has a Code of Conduct binding all its members. The code requires members to maintain good standards of commercial and corporate conduct, supply safe products that abide by all regulatory requirements, and adhere to the World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative.
“These principles embodied in the Code of Conduct go to the heart of Lighting Council’s philosophy as an organisation,” Douglas says. “They help set our members apart from others in the industry who may not subscribe to such ideals. They also explain why some applications for membership of Lighting Council Australia are unsuccessful.”
Lighting Council Australia strives to be seen by stakeholders in the industry and in government as credible and responsible. “This is why we have a Code of Conduct,” Douglas explains. “It is also why we take a stand against unethical and illegal activity in the marketplace.”
A case in point relates to false claims about the performance of LED products. “Unfortunately there are some suppliers who take advantage of the general lack of knowledge about this technology to make unfounded claims in their marketing material,” says Douglas.
Key issues for today’s lighting market
The use of light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, is rapidly on the rise. As a type of solid state lighting (SSL), LEDs have several advantages. They are highly energy-efficient, have a long life, do not contain mercury and are not affected by regular on-off switching.
Some types of LEDs, however, still have a way to go to match the quality of other technology. Of the numerous new LED products entering the Australian market, some are excellent but many are poor quality and do not live up to suppliers’ claims.
While new LED standards are being prepared at an international level, the Lighting Council has launched an industry-led voluntary quality certification scheme for LEDs.
“Our SSL Quality Scheme provides confidence to the market that a luminaire carrying the scheme’s label matches the supplier’s performance claims in certain critical areas,” says Douglas. “We verify those claims based on test reports or other evidence provided by the supplier.”
Only members of Lighting Council Australia and Lighting Council New Zealand are eligible to join the scheme.
A bright future
According to Douglas there are major shifts underway in the lighting industry. These shifts are opening up a whole gamut of possibilities, especially for those companies at the technological forefront of developments.
Lighting controls that include motion sensors, timers and dimmers are already common in residential and commercial buildings as well as car parks. Controls offer flexibility and the ability to reduce unnecessary waste of energy, reduce costs, and ensure electric lighting is only used in areas that are occupied. This helps put more lighting in installations than would otherwise be possible under nationally adopted Building Code of Australia energy efficiency requirements for lighting in new and refurbished buildings. The use of increasingly sophisticated controls –and embracing digitalisation – will continue to expand thanks to these advantages.
There are also millions of existing traditional light sources that will need to be replaced in coming years and this is leading to an expansion of channels in the market for LED replacements.
Douglas says there is exciting research in laboratories around the world including work on organic LEDS which provide areas or planes of light as opposed to a point source. This is where the potential lies for walls or panels of light that could not only provide a soft glow but also double-up as display screens with news, weather or other images.
“Creativity and innovation are creating whole new markets, opening the door to a future for the lighting industry that is truly only limited by our imaginations,” he explains.
“In the future, it will be commonplace for individual light fittings to be addressable by means of an embedded microchip, and will be capable of manipulation of light output and colour characteristics by a smartphone or other IT device.”