What Does "Green" Mean, Anyway?

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

I’ve been getting ads in my mailbox from local landscape lighting installers. They suggest that I install some LED landscape lights around my home so that I can be green. Be careful! This could be like buying a $1200 TV you didn’t need for $500, and then saying, “Guess what, Honey? I saved $700 today!”

Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you keep your LED installation green.

What Does Green Mean Anyway

DON’T – Don’t install lights you wouldn’t otherwise install just because it is LED. Putting in new lights that weren’t there before consumes more energy – even if you are using LEDs.

DON’T – Don’t leave them on because they “hardly use any energy.” It is tempting to think that since you have lower wattage fixtures that it’s less important to turn them off. Before you know it, leaving the lights on longer will consume any energy savings you had previously achieved with wattage reduction.

DON’T – Don’t overlight a space just because you have enough power. For example, when replacing a 100 watt lamp with a 20 watt lamp it can be tempting to say, “Well, let’s just install two of those new ones to be safe.” While you would still be saving energy, you would be consuming twice as much as necessary.

DO – Do use lighting controls to dim or turn off lights when not in use. One of the advantages of LED lighting is that LEDs are easy to dim (compared to fluorescent) and they are an instant-on light source, so they can be used with occupancy sensors.

DO – Do buy high quality products from reputable manufacturers to ensure long life, and then at end of life – recycle!

DO – When you can, use solar power to avoid consuming electricity at all. Solar LED lights are an especially good option for remote places that would require very long power feeds.

DO – Do use proper glare shielding and beam control on exterior light fixtures to minimize uplight and glare from your LEDs. Dark night skies are important to our planet.

What other dos and don’ts have we missed? Have you seen “green” products used in not-so-environmentally-friendly ways? 


Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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