Ronald McDonald is Going Green

A McDonald’s in Cary, NC has more in mind than making great hamburgers.  In early 2009, the franchise in the Saltbox Village shopping center demolished its building in hopes of starting from the ground up to become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

The store now saves on energy by using 78 percent less electricity for lighting.  It is 97 percent lit with LED lights, covering the kitchen, hallways, restrooms, dining areas, entryways, and even the drive-thru.  It also conserves water with low-flow toilets and planned landscaping with native plants.

The U.S. Green Building Council granted LEED certification in January, making the Cary franchise the first McDonald’s in North Carolina that has “gone green.”  In fact, there are only two other LEED-certified McDonald’s in the country, located in Savannah, GA and Chicago, IL.

In a recent Lighting Roundup, we mentioned a few articles predicting 2010 will be the year for LEDs to explode on the commercial and residential market.  Perhaps restaurants seeking LEED certification with more energy-efficient lighting will become a trend as well.

Record-Breaking Development in LED Lighting

Cree, Inc. announced last week that they developed a white power LED that produces 208 lumens of light per watt.  Why is this record-breaking? Single white power LEDs were thought to be limited to 200 lumens per watt efficacy prior to this development.  To help put this into context, standard fluorescent lights can only produce 100 lumens of light per watt at the very most. So, this new Cree LED product produces twice the amount of light possible for fluorescents.  By the way, conventional 60-100 watt incandescent light bulbs produce just 15 lumens of light per watt.

Cree clearly continues to develop LED lighting products that will start to render incandescent light bulbs obsolete in the near future, helping to push the market toward more environmentally-friendly lighting.  This announcement signifies that LED performance will continue to improve past industry expectations with further research and development.  While this product is not yet available on the market, lab-level LEDs from Cree in the past have taken only twelve months to be commercialized.

Five Little-Known Facts About LEDs

1) They help you absorb more nutrients from fruits and vegetables

Because LEDs do not emit ultraviolet rays, they are better options for supermarkets, restaurants, and kitchen lighting.    UV rays decrease nutrient levels in foods, and all other light sources, including natural and artificial, emit UV rays.  In addition, LEDs do not give off heat, keeping food fresher for longer.

2) They never burn out.

LEDs have a lifetime estimate of 35,000-60,000 hours, compared with the 1,000 hour lifetime of incandescent light bulbs and the 8,000 hour lifetime for compact fluorescent lamps.  And even after they reach that limit, they will simply become progressively dimmer rather than immediately burning out.
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Times Square Ball Converted to LEDs

People celebrated the last ten seconds of 2009 across the country much like any other New Year’s Eve: watching the ball drop in Times Square. While the ball may have looked the same for those gathering in New York and the millions tuning in, its makeup represented a monumental shift toward sustainability for 2010. Philips Electronics designed the ball to save 78% more energy by replacing the incandescent and halogen bulbs with LED light bulbs for the 2010 numerals. The LED flood lights Philips added used just nine watts compared to the 40 watts the incandescent and halogen bulbs used in the past. Philips says ten percent of its lighting sales now come from LED lights.

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LED Lighting as a Design Trend

An article in Electronic House last week discussed how interior designers and architects are incorporating LED lighting into homes for truly amazing visual effects.

Imagine controlling lights embedded in your bathtub to glow with the color of your choice.  Or picture an LED kitchen faucet that lights with a different color based on temperature, signaling when the water is too hot to touch.  The applications for the color and light control options that LEDs offer are endless, making them a hot design trend – especially because they are incredibly energy-efficient as well.  Even tile flooring can be illuminated with LED lighting from beneath.
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LED Traffic Lights Can’t Melt Snow

LED Traffic Light

Put this one in the “didn’t see that coming” bin. Virtually everywhere you drive these days chances are you will see one or more LED traffic lights at important intersections. They’re the ones that look like a pattern of bright dots.

Cities around the country have installed these new traffic lights for several very good reasons. They are very energy-efficient using about 90% less energy than their incandescent counterparts and, more importantly, they last tens of thousands of hours, thus saving municipalities a bundle in maintenance costs.

Wisconsin, for example, which has put LED traffic lights at hundreds of intersections, saves about $750,000 per year in energy costs. LEDs installed seven years ago are still burning, while most incandescent bulbs have to be replaced every 12 to 18 months.
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