on May 20th, 2021

Electrical light sources are responsible for 15 percent of global electricity consumption. As the world strives towards more sustainable solutions, there is an increasing need for innovation in lighting design.

For engineers, it means that your project today needs to be environmentally sustainable tomorrow.

EIT lecturer, Dr. Ana Evangelista, recently presented on civil and structural sustainability solutions during our webinarEnergy Efficiency via Building Design’ and it is clear that new buildings rely on much more than brick and mortar.

 “Sustainability is something that must be in your career nowadays,” emphasized Dr. Evangelista.

Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals draws attention to the world’s progress towards affordable and clean energy, with a major focus on improving energy efficiency.

The United Nations have put in the work to lead legislation in developing economies surrounding the implementation of sustainable light sources. These policies are also relevant to developing nations that can utilize the guidelines in environmental management.

Their Efficiency Lighting Policy Guide aims to accelerate the global adoption of energy-efficient lighting. The guide offers an overview of the key elements required to transform a national appliance market towards more energy-efficient products through the application of the U4E Integrated Policy Approach.

However, it’s not just energy efficiency that’s a concern when it comes to the importance of lighting design.

The environmental impacts of improper lighting design

Lighting is an essential and ubiquitous part of our urban landscapes. Unfortunately, excessive light emission and incorrect lighting directivity and placement result in lighting pollution – something that is now at the forefront of sustainable building practices.

Lighting pollution includes ‘sky glow’ which leads to those hazy night skies in urban areas, making starry nights often look dull or foggy. Without realizing it, light pollution can affect human health and disrupt our natural ecosystem.

Glare is another by-product of lighting pollution, most recognizable between the contrasts of dark areas and bright, overly lit areas. Over-illumination is a key problem where energy is wasted to light up certain areas that don’t effectively need that much light.

There’s also a light spill, where unwanted light spills into areas where that light is bothersome or unneeded. This is especially prominent near infrastructures such as car parks or sports pitches. Light spills can be properly minimized during the design stage by the use of appropriate luminaires and their location, height, and aiming.

It’s no longer a case of ‘good fences make good neighbors but good lighting design makes good neighbors.

Making LED the ‘new normal’

As we move away from inefficient fluorescent lighting, LED fixtures are becoming more commonplace. Dr. Evangelista estimated that by 2030, well over 70% of buildings will feature energy-efficient LED lighting.

According to the International Energy Agency, in 2013, electricity for lighting consumed 20% of the output of the world’s power stations. LED lights cut the use down further, even with expanding populations.

Nearly all lighting applications now have an LED alternative and the advantages of LED start with the fact that it’s 80% to 90% more efficient.

LEDs’ long lifespan, which is estimated to be between 30 000 and 50 000 hours, coupled with a smaller price tag has made them valuable in the field of building design.

Lighting on bridge at night.
Lighting on bridge at night.

Dr. Evangelista also believes that it is imperative that natural light is used with vigor since it avoids glare – and that efficient lighting layout supplements natural light sources. Skylights are an extremely efficient way to light buildings during the day, and even at night, without the reliance on natural resources or from a power grid.

Ensuring LED lights are standard by 2030, the United Nations estimates that it could nullify the chance of 50 power plants being built to address the energy needs of lighting and that CO2 emissions could be reduced by 100 million tons annually.

Ready to learn more about lighting design?

Engineers who are part of a building project will be able to deliver certain guarantees. An energy-efficient lighting design will cut considerable costs once new buildings, or refurbished lighting layouts, are in use.

But lighting needs to be practical and pleasing.

The Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) offers a 52856WA Advanced Diploma of Illumination Engineering and Lighting Design that links back to best practices, addresses changes in trends but offers insight into why lighting design is important.

From how illumination fits into building codes, to what kind of lighting is needed in specific environments it cultivates a keen understanding that lighting plays a role in visual environments, and no matter for what purpose lighting will be used.

Apply now for our 6 September 2021 intake.


United Nations, 2021. Energy efficiency and functional performance requirements for general service lamps. [online]  <https://www.U4E_Model-Regulation_GSL_Final_210201.pdf (united4efficiency.org)> [Accessed on 12 May 2021]

United Nations, 2018. Switching markets to energy-efficient lighting brings significant environmental and economic benefits and savings for countries, businesses, and consumers. [online] <https://www.Lighting – United for Efficiency (united4efficiency.org)> [Accessed on 11 May 2021]

WLC Lighting, 2020. Lighting and the environment. [online] <https://www.Lighting and the Environment (wlclighting.co.uk)>

The latest news

EIT News

Engineering Projects Set to Be Completed in 2024 

2024 promises to be a year of significant milestones. Spanning the globe, these engineering projects offer a glimpse into the future of urban landscapes and infrastructure development.   As we approach... Read more
EIT News

10 of the World’s Tallest Buildings  

As our cities grow and change, there's a constant fascination with pushing boundaries skyward. It's a testament to our collective imagination and engineering brilliance. As the years pass by, we... Read more
EIT News

Will Drivers Adopt New Machine Learning Tool for Predicting Car Crashes?

As car crashes continue to rise globally, a study on a machine learning (ML) tool emerges as a vital source for intervention.  With the increasing complexity of road networks and... Read more
Engineering Institute of Technology