We’ve been touting it for a long time, but there have been those who doubt it: LED lights are better for the environment than compact fluorescent lights. A new report from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and UK-based N14 Energy Limited found that LED lighting is already more environmentally friendly than CFL bulbs, but more importantly, that “the gap is expected to grow significantly as technology and manufacturing methods improve over the next five years.”
The unique thing about this report is that it is one of the first to analyze the total environmental impact of LED lights in depth—from manufacturing and material sourcing to transport and shipping. The report found that incandescent lights use more energy both in the manufacturing process and when functioning as lamps than both CFLs and LEDs. In the 15 environmental impact areas examined, LED lights were found to be more perilous to the planet than CFLs in only one category: hazardous waste. It turns out that manufacturing the aluminum heat sink most LED light bulbs use to stay cool creates many hazardous byproducts, like sulfuric acid. LED light bulbs beat CFL bulbs in ever other category, and new research is in the works to create LED lights that produce less heat and require smaller heat sinks, which will soon put them ahead in the hazardous waste category. Once this is accomplished, LED lighting will solidify its position as surefire eco friendly lighting choice.
Thanks to RedOrbit for the quote and image.