Toshiba Ends Incandescent Bulb Manufacturing

After 120 years of manufacturing incandescent light bulbs, Toshiba announced last week its planned to switch solely to CFLs and LED light bulbs.

via CNET:

The Japanese electronics manufacturer said the phaseout is part of a strategy to ultimately concentrate on LED (light-emitting diode) lighting products, though it will continue to produce certain specialty incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent lighting has been dwindling in use over the last five years in large part to citizen and government phase-out campaigns that include laws for an eventual ban on the sale of the electricity-guzzling light source. Many countries have already passed laws with deadlines looming.

Australia was the first country to ban the sale of incandescent lightbulbs, which took effect in 2010. In December 2007, the U.S. passed a law phasing out the sale of the 100-watt incandescent bulb beginning in 2012 with a ban to take effect by 2014, as well as several regulations regarding bulb efficiency rates.

Many companies have responded to the changes by reducing production in favor of new lighting technology like LEDs and CFLs (compact fluorescent bulbs). Even newer technologies like electron stimulated luminescence (ESL) lights and incandescent bulbs with ultra-fast short-pulse lasers are also on the horizon.

“Toshiba estimates that switching 60 percent of the world’s incandescent lights with LED lights would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 125.5 million tons in 2025, compared to 2000,” the company said in a statement.

It marks the end of a technology era. Since 1890, Toshiba–that is the company that eventually became part of Toshiba–has been manufacturing incandescent lighting.

Hakunetsu-sha & Company was Japan’s first electric incandescent lighting factory and produced its first bulbs in 1890 at a rate of 10 bulbs per day. The company was renamed the Tokyo Electric Company in 1899, and in 1939 merged with Shibaura Engineering Works to become what is today known as Toshiba.

Live! from CEA’s Greener Gadgets in NYC

The Greener Gadgets Conference opens today in NYC at the McGraw-Hill Conference Center.  The conference will tackle all of the issues surrounding energy efficiency and sustainable design, from innovative advances in packaging and product manufacturing to end-of-life recycling solutions. It will also highlight ways in which electronics make a major impact by utilizing renewable energy in developing nations.

With panel discussions, networking and a design competition, the 2010 conference should be something to look forward to!

Green Life Smart Life founder Kim Lancaster will be speaking the “Green Living Begins at Home” panel with panelists like Sarah Krasley from Autodesk and moderator Sarah Rich from Dwell Magazine.  The panel description reads: Greening your life is an everyday process, starting with the place you begin every day. From building to remodeling, home automation to energy management, green living begins at home. Listen to experts discuss sustainable design strategies for urban and rural locations, creating plans for a home that is both high-tech and green.

I will be attending the event as both a blogger and moral support provider for Kim and hope to live blog and add updates & pictures throughout the show (especially during her panel at 10:40 am ET).

Check my Twitter feed for more up to the minute coverage as well: @ashleydano

Texas Utility Chooses Control4 for Smart Grid Deployment

Control4, a leading developer of Home Area Network (“HAN”) and consumer energy management solutions, today announced that it has been selected as the HAN provider for Texas-based utility Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. Serving more than 65,000 members in 14 counties between Austin and Houston, Bluebonnet plans to begin integrating smart grid technology in its members’ homes and businesses by April 2010. Control4 will provide Bluebonnet members with its Energy Management System, which includes a powerful yet intuitive in-home display with a programmable smart thermostat that will give users the usage data and device control necessary to manage energy use and expenses.

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is a progressive utility looking to maximize member satisfaction and encourage efficient energy use through its Smart Grid investments,” said Will West,Chief Executive Officer of Control4. “Control4 is proud to support this important initiative by providing user friendly home energy management and usage data to empower Bluebonnet members to become active in the utility’s progressive energy conservation programs.”

Bluebonnet recently announced its application for a Department of Energy stimulus grant to fund a transformation of its entire business to a Smart Grid. To assist in that transformation, Bluebonnet sought a HAN partner to help provide engaging information and advice to the consumer that facilitates energy conservation and efficiency. Bluebonnet selected Control4 based on the platform’s functionality, expandability and capabilities as both an energy management and control system.   The company’s proven technology leadership (with over one million ZigBee devices shipped) and its established network of over 1,550 dealers for distribution and support were added factors in the utility’s decision.

“After an extensive search process that included several product demonstrations, Bluebonnet chose the Control4® Energy Management System for its ability to provide up-to-the-minute information about energy usage and price that our members can use to manage their monthly electric bill,” said Mark Rose, Bluebonnet CEO. “Control4’s EMS-100 combines an easy-to-use touch screen with a flexible and expandable system at a reasonable price. These features will enable Bluebonnet’s members to be better consumers of energy and help us achieve our cooperative goal of a 20 percent reduction in system load by 2020.”

The Control4 EMS-100 system will work in concert with Silver Spring smart meters and eMeter software, feeding vital information back to the utility and providing customers with up-to-the-minute information on outages, conservation events and price spikes. The Control4® system delivers energy usage data from various loads in the home, allowing homeowners to take action and manually turn off devices or program the system to do so during peak times and demand response. The entry-level system is composed of the EC100 Energy Controller, a five-inch intuitive in-home touch screen device that supplies consumers with updates on energy usage and costs, tips for saving money on energy bills, power alerts from the utility, and information on various loads and activity within the home. The system also includes a programmable thermostat that communicates with the Energy Controller for heating and cooling control of homes and businesses. In addition to energy management and control, the EMS-100 offers engaging lifestyle applications and features such as weather reports, traffic updates, stock quotes and podcasts. With the EMS-100, Bluebonnet members can be active participants in managing their energy usage and reducing their utility bills. From powering down lights to controlling shades, utility customers have access to additional ways to further reduce their energy costs.

Control4 recently announced $17.3 million in financing to fund a new business unit, Control4 Energy Systems, based in Silicon Valley, California. The company’s proven home operating system and HAN management technologies can improve operational efficiency for utilities while delivering exceptional features and benefits for the consumer. Control4 Energy Systems works with utilities, AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) Partners, dealers and retailers to bring easy-to-use energy management systems to homes and small businesses. 

For more information on Control4 Energy Systems, please visit  For more information on Bluebonnet Electric, please visit

Green Building Perspectives: Whirlpool

Continuing our blog series Green Building Perspectives, posts dedicated to highlighting our esteemed partners here at Green Life Smart Life, this week we feature Whirlpool Corporation.  Whirlpool will be providing the project with the latest in ENERGY STAR® rated appliances such as the refridgerator, washer and dryer and dishwasher. 

Whirlpool Brand Logo - for webWhat do you think of the Green Life Smart Life Project to date? What interested Whirlpool about participating in the project?

Green Life Smart Life is certainly a unique project, and Whirlpool is excited to be a part of it, especially since we have similar goals. Much like Green Life Smart Life, Whirlpool seeks to help families green their lifestyles with simple tips to help them be more efficient in the kitchen and laundry room. In a recent survey that Whirlpool conducted with Harris Interactive, 84 percent of consumers said that energy efficiency is most important to them in regards to appliances. And while Whirlpool manufactures energy-efficient appliances, the company also looks to help people use the products more efficiently, and aligning with this project is a great way to do so.

Where does Whirlpool see green living going in the next 5 years?  

Whirlpool always strives to develop products to meet consumer needs and consumers continue to clamor for eco-efficient products that can save money while making their daily lives just a little bit easier. The next step in this process is going to be smart grid technology. Whirlpool announced in May that all of the electronically controlled appliances the company manufactures will be smart grid compatible by 2015. This will enable two-way communication between appliances and the utility grid resulting in real-time monitoring, leading to a more efficient system. Whirlpool is continuing to form public-private partnerships to keep this initiative moving.

How is your company evolving to address green living and energy efficiency?

Our evolution can be seen in the products themselves. Whirlpool seeks to bring energy efficiency to products which match any lifestyle or value. For example, top-load laundry is still the preferred configuration among consumers, so Whirlpool developed the high-efficiency (HE) Cabrio washer so that they could also enjoy HE benefits. Similarly, conventional top-loading machines from Whirlpool are now ENERGY-STAR rated. Whirlpool is also developing products with enhanced design and features that are also some of the most efficient products on the market. For example, the Whirlpool brand Resource Saver refrigerator uses less energy than a 60-watt lightbulb making it the most energy efficient side-by-side refrigerator on the market. The best part about it is that it through advancements in technology; it is efficient and functional without sacrificing performance or capacity.

 What challenges do you see Whirlpool facing in the evolution of green living?

Whirlpool is constantly seeking new ways to help educate consumers about the latest energy-efficient laundry and kitchen products to help them save money, but it can be challenging. For example, in a recent survey, about 40 percent of consumers said they do not understand what high efficiency means with regards to laundry appliances. Additionally, few people realize that HE benefits are available in both front-load and top-load laundry configurations. Therefore, we find it essential to keep efficiency at the forefront of our conversations with consumers.

The same type of education is needed in the kitchen as well. For example, today’s ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators use 60 percent less energy than non ENERGY STAR models made just 10 years ago. That is a tremendous advancement, but in a recent survey, more than 50 percent of consumers still labeled the refrigerator as the appliance which uses the most energy on a day to day basis. Additionally, 20 percent of consumers revealed they own a refrigerator that is 10+ years old..

Do you think “green” will ever dominate your business?

Eco-efficiency is a significant focus for Whirlpool. In a recent survey, more than 80 percent of consumers said that energy is most important to them when it comes to appliance efficiency which tells us we’re on the right track. Whirlpool always keeps consumer insights in mind when developing new products, so we are constantly looking to develop products that will reduce energy bills and save consumers money. 

Anything else you would like to add about the green living market or the Green Life Smart Life project?

While it is important for consumers to take advantage of energy-efficient appliances, they need to keep in mind that lifestyle changes are essential as well. For example, consumers should remember that pre-rinsing dishes before loading the dishwasher can use up to 20 gallons of water. Instead of using that water, they should just scrape food off the dishes and load the dishwasher. Moreover, running the dishwasher late at night can avoid peak hours andlower utility bills. Whether it’s only washing a load of laundry while the washing machine is full, or making sure pans fit the burners on a range to efficiently utilize heat, there are numerous, simple ways that consumers can reduce their impact. Green Life Smart Life can certainly encourage these practices, and Whirlpool is excited to be a part of it.

Energy Efficiency, Lighting and Entertainment Integrate to Show Green and Technology Can Co-Exist

Green Life Smart Life - August 2009Green Life Smart Life™ has named the technology partners who will assist in creating the path to LEED®-H Innovation and Design points for  Energy Management, Energy Monitoring and Green Wiring. With energy efficiency as the foundation to the selection process, every electronic device was reviewed in terms of annual wattage, load requirements and integration with other subsystems before finally approved by the integration and design team.  The home has been structurally wired for a state-of-the-art whole house video, music, lighting, security and Internet but uses 50% less wire and materials than a project of comparable size of scope, making it both eco-friendly and efficient. 

The Green Life Smart Life home will feature the latest in lighting and HVAC control, security and surveillance, energy management and state-of-the art distributed entertainment.  Project highlights include:

  • An overall home control, energy management and entertainment solution provided by Control4.  Utilizing the Control4® Operating System to consolidate into one platform and automate major subsystems such as lighting, HVAC, security and climate control, the Control4 platform will use a ZigBee enabled device to bridge data from the utility meter to the home control system.  This energy management solution will feature:
    • Load shedding allowing homeowners to power down high energy consuming appliances during non-use period and schedule down times for max efficiency.
    • Single button trigger solutions for easy programming of sequenced power on and off scenarios throughout the home, including a “green” feature.
    • Communication system to monitor feedback from all electricity loads in the house with real-time analysis of usage and savings.
    • Occupancy, temperature, magnetic, and timed sensors as well as a self-activated “away” mode every time the security system is armed to ensure maximum energy efficiency, especially when the home is empty.
  • Integral in minimizing the home’s energy consumption, Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system will be programmed to include a high-end trim of 85% for every connected light in the house and features automatic control of motion and occupancy sensors.
  • From music to movies and pictures to TV programming, the home will feature the latest in entertainment technology from Control4 and include an n9 Media Center server from Niveus Media.
  • Whole home audio means all of your music is centralized. The home will manage their music via the NuVo Essentia E6G, the first and currently only whole home audio system to earn the coveted ENERGY STAR® rating.
  • Security and surveillance means safety for your family – Green Life Smart Life will incorporate Black & Decker automated locks through Control4 for complete protection of the home.
  • The three flat panels in the house will be affixed to the wall with OmniMount’s new OmniLite Series mounts – made from recycled materials and using minimal component parts without sacrificing quality or safety.
  • Wired to meet the standards of the CEA TechHome Rating System, Leviton’s structured wiring solutions allowed the home to be outfitted for current as well as future needs.
  • To help earn LEED points in Indoor Air Quality, an H-P Products’ VACUFLO system with Hide-A-Hose will be installed in the home.

 From centralizing the control hub to eliminating hundreds of feet wiring to specifying low-VOC conduit for future accessibility, Robert Saglio Audio Video, in cooperation with the builder and homeowners, will help create standards for future electronic systems installers to potentially achieve LEED-H points and ensure that the homeowners reach their optimal energy consumption goals.

Project Green A/V

Through our partnership with the CEA and our local installer, we are dedicated to making Green Life Smart Life a modern yet environmentally friendly dwelling.  Not surprisingly, some people tend to scoff when they hear about plans to combine the two, convinced that technology and green can never truly coexist.  Thankfully, we’re not the only ones determined to prove them wrong.

Project Green AV, based in New York, is a group dedicated to supporting and educating the A/V industry on environmental responsibility and innovation. 


In their own words:

Project Green AV is the comprehensive industry resource for Green information & ideas for the Audio Visual industry.  Project Green AV is committed to bringing together AV industry colleagues and consumers to learn about, discuss and teach environmentally responsible and cost-effective solutions for AV purchases, installation, new technology and projects. 

In addition to, Project Green AV distributes Newsletters, hosts webinars and leads forums and online groups to help promote environmentally responsible information and ideas in the audio visual and information technology industries.  Together with site visitors, subscribers and members of Our Community, Project Green AV turns Green ideas into Great ideas for our industry and our world.

We’re proud to have Project Green AV as a sponsor of the Green Life Smart Life project and continue to share common goals, interests and solutions to developing technology that is truly green and sustainable for our world.

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter

On The Bright Side: Advancements In Energy-Efficient LCD Technology

Energy loss is like a leaky faucet: You’ll notice just one drop of water at any given time and not fully realize the impact. Collected over months, however, it’s a lot of waste. And it’s costly.

That “drip drip drip” you hear is the sound of all of your household devices endlessly bellying up to the energy buffet. Appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners are the hungriest. Old-school analog amps also require heavy power supplies.

Many people didn’t really think about the energy these devices consumed until recently, and now they want to make more “responsible” buying decisions. For example, new data collected by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reveals that the vast majority-89 percent-of households want their next TV to be more energy efficient. In fact, green CE products are on the wish lists of 33 percent of consumers within the next two years, the study concluded.

Today’s hottest electronic components-plasma and LCD (liquid crystal display) flat-panel TVs-are dropping in price and becoming available to an ever-wider range of consumers. It’s a fabulous thing for the home entertainment experience, but energy-conscious consumers will be concerned to learn that these sexy screens gobble up power at alarming rates, even when they are off.


Manufacturers have taken steps to remedy the problem and meet increased consumer demand for more eco-friendly products. A growing number of flat panels have earned the ENERGY STAR, and some offer ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) calibration, which allows a professional installer to adjust the TV’s settings to the most energy-efficient levels. And don’t forget ambient light’s role in a TV’s brightness requirements; preset levels help get the best performance out of the TV for the lowest possible energy consumption.

These features and strategies are encouraging, but what else can LCD manufacturers and professional installers do? How can they guarantee maximum output and brightness levels while saving energy at the same time? Ultimately, how can integrators spec LCDs and say with a straight face that they are contributing to eco-friendly home interiors?

There’s good news on the horizon. A survey of some new LCD innovations reveals a noticeable, industry-wide trend toward green product design on the manufacturer level.

For instance, Sharp recently introduced two residential LCD TVs that run on solar power: a 26-inch model that consumes just 40 watts of power (less than a conventional light bulb does) and a 52-inch model that runs on a larger solar panel and consumes 220 kilowatt hours of solar power in an average year. The sets debuted in Japan, but the technology could eventually reach the North American market.

Sharp says it always considers the bigger picture, and not just for its LCD screens. When it comes to environmental protection, it wants company-wide efficiency, from factories to finished products. While many manufacturers are just starting to “think green,” Sharp is close to celebrating 50 years of using solar energy. The company’s second largest plant in Kameyama, Japan, reflects its strong environmental commitment; it provides one third of its own power, primarily via a solar-paneled roof.

Sharp’s new manufacturing facility in Sakai City, Japan, is slated to open by 2010. It will include Sharp’s tenth-generation LCD factory, and double as a production house for thin-film solar cells. The facility will generate enough solar capacity every year to power a quarter of a million homes, according to the company.

At this year’s custom electronics integration trade show, CEDIA, Sharp US introduced a new HD line of Limited Edition LCD TVs, available in 65- and 52-lc-52d85u-ho-hiresinch screen sizes, that utilizes a 10-bit Advanced Super View LCD panel. That translates into a super-slim profile of only one inch at its thinnest. Additionally, Sharp’s new Power Saving Mode, available in several Sharp LCDs, enables active contrast and active backlight to reduce the energy consumption of the television while in use. What’s more, in January, Sharp says it will donate a minimum of $50,000 to The HOPE Program to launch the Green Collar Project, which will provide job skills to low-income New Yorkers interested in working in environmental fields.

At Japan’s CEATEC electronics show this fall, Sony performed a revealing and encouraging “taste test” of sorts. It lined up a 42-inch Sony LCD TV from 2005 next to a 2008 Sony LCD set of the same size. The 2005 panel consumed 131 watts during play mode; the 2008 model consumed just 57 watts. That’s progress! Sony also plans to introduce a new organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV model in 2009. OLEDs don’t require a backlight to function, so they draw far less power and can be much thinner than LCDs.

Plasma TVs, which as a category are considered more energy-hungry than LCD TVs, are benefitting from energy-aware product development, too. Panasonic, one of the leaders in plasma technology, says it will reduce the power consumption in its plasma TVs by two-thirds by 2010 or 2011, by reducing the number of components used in its devices. Plasmas, which create images by a veritable Chem Lab experiment of gas atoms, free-flowing ions and electrons, require more complex innards than LCD TVs do. Panasonic claims it is also devising ways to route more plasma light emissions from the light source to the screen itself for enhanced efficiency.

There are countless other examples of flat panels designed with performance, energy, and utility bills in mind. It’s great to know manufacturers are taking “efficiency” more seriously than ever. For homeowners who want to make eco-conscious decisions and have the best picture quality available at the same time, the compromises they need to make are growing fewer by the month.

Posted by Margot Douaihy