How many times did a parent remind you to turn off the lights when leaving a room? A few years ago, when I started working with the DOE Solid-State Lighting (SSL) program, I began to appreciate the importance of energy conservation and energy efficiency. I can still hear Dad asking, “Are you done in there? Then turn off the lights!”
Turns out Dad was right. I can’t think of another 100+ year old technology that is still as widely used as the good old fashioned light bulb. But that is about to change. The 1912 Model T Ford is long gone, TV technology has drastically evolved, and smart phones were maybe a figment of someone’s imagination in 1912. How is it that this old, inefficient light bulb technology has stuck around for so long, when generations of other household items have come and gone so quickly? Seems it’s harder to change a light bulb when better options don’t come along.
The Akoya SSL team has had a hand in bringing a transformation in lighting to life. We have coordinated and promoted the lighting program’s training conferences for years, and in 2008, we began to support the L Prize®, the first technology lighting prize competition to be led by a government agency. The competition challenged the lighting industry to find a replacement of a beloved standby—the common 60 watt light bulb. You know it well—it’s in table lamps, overhead lights, wall sconces, and offices everywhere.
With support from Akoya, the L Prize team of utility partners, government officials, and independent experts charted new waters with every aspect of the competition. When we sought examples to follow, we learned that they simply didn’t exist in the government world. The team plunged ahead, establishing a website, generating materials to explain rules and expectations, and launching the competition at a major trade show. The Akoya team served as glue to the planning teams and liaison to the industry through all phases of the competition.
In August 2011, a winner was announced, and soon that winning product will be landing on store shelves. It will face the ultimate reality check: will consumers really find it to be a good replacement? Will the price drop like it has for so many other household products? Time will tell the magnitude of the energy savings for Americans. Meanwhile, I can report back to Dad that working on the L Prize can only be described as the professional experience of a lifetime.