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Shifting towards electronics sustainability

Posted: 08 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics sustainability? LED? solid-state lighting? solar power?

Picini: To survive and thrive in this environment will require a new approach to product design, development and delivery.

The international attention on the environment spans a diverse population, from individual citizens to world leaders, small businesses to large multinational companies, grassroots environmental organizations to government agencies. Collectively, we are grappling with a host of environmental problems plaguing the planet, ranging from global warming and water pollution to rain forest depletion and toxic contamination of soil and water.

The message is resonating around the world as consumers ramp up efforts to be more responsible by practicing the three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) and governments around the world invest in clean energy alternatives. Both lay the foundation for reducing carbon emissions and creating energy sustainability in the future.

But possibly the greatest impact can come from usthe global electronics communityas we look to develop new, innovative technologies that address a host of environmental imperatives. This includes entering new business sectors such as lighting and renewable energy and changing our own business practices so that we are developing with green initiatives in mind.

Turning on smart lighting
One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to decrease carbon emissions is proving to be the move toward solid-state lighting primarily through LEDs. According to a recent New York Times article, studies suggest that a complete conversion to LED lighting could decrease carbon dioxide emissions from electric power use by up to 50 percent in just over 20 years. Additionally, because LEDs do not contain mercury or other toxic substances they do not have the same negative impact on municipal waste as other alternative lighting solutions.

Smart lighting is a natural progression for the electronics industry, especially when it comes to overcoming some of the obstacles to widespread LED adoption. The expertise gained from designing components for other industries gives electronic manufactures a distinct advantage when addressing many of these challenges. One example is the miniaturization of components, which will make it possible to create more compact form factors resulting in new lighting fixture possibilities. Additionally, advanced plastic plated technology is enabling manufacturers to develop products that are more light weight and sustainable. To support this effort, sub-industries have emerged such as building automation systems that attempt to take the emergence of solid state and electronics in areas of power and lighting and link into a total systems approach that allows for an even higher level of 'intelligent' energy use and 'touch' on our planet.

Focus on alternative energy
Tapping into renewable energy sources such as solar and wind is another tool for attacking the global climate change. One of the largest contributors to global warming is the carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels such as oil and coal are burned for energy. On the other hand, alternative energy sources such as solar power generate virtually no pollution on their own. Solar photovoltaics are considered to be the world's fastest-growing energy technology.

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