When I hear that a manufacturer has released a white paper, I treat it along the same lines as when I see an ad for a free timeshare in Florida. That is, with an exceptionally healthy degree of skepticism. It is born from years of reading these and ensuring I do pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
One white paper always comes to mind, and that was from a roadway lighting manufacturer about 14 years ago. As I do whenever I come across a white paper, I check the references first. On this specific paper, the references were mostly from industry leaders. One caught my eye; it was from someone I respected immensely so I wanted to see what this paper was quoting. “Light is the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.” ………………….. I know this person. I’ve heard this person say that. I quickly scoured the G’s to see if there was a quote along the lines of “Let there be light.” This white paper had purposely embellished their references.
Whenever I approach a white paper, I ask two questions: Who paid for the white paper, and to what end? Obviously, not all white papers are designed to misrepresent or to market a certain product or idea. However, I have found that a little examination is always beneficial.
So, in coming across the white paper, “Is Street Lighting Damaging Our Health?” released by Cree recently, I had to ask myself, “Who paid for this and to what end?” The first part of the question was obvious but the second needed further investigation.
At first blush, this seems to be more of a marketing brochure filled with color, illustrations, and charts, as opposed to a genuine white paper. Also, why bad-mouth the industry? The title “Is Street Lighting Damaging Our Health?” does not lend itself to the masses lining up to have these products purchased and installed.
This brochure, free to everyone, discusses the timelines of LED development, lighting standards, and the laggard glare metrics. Designed for the European market, we can see the struggle with an appropriate metric is universal. Fully acknowledging that glare is a very complex phenomenon, this paper discusses the different types of glare and their consequences at a level the layperson would comprehend. This is critical as we in the industry, more and more frequently, are being told to talk to the end-user in terms they will understand.
The paper outlines three metrics currently in use in Europe within European Standards EN 13201:
- Threshold Increment
- G* Luminous Intensity Classes
- D* Disability Glare
It opines why these standards and metrics are lacking in specific areas.
While those entrenched in the lighting world may not find anything earth shattering in this brochure, it is a useful tool to start up the conversation with those decision makers.
Don’t let the term white paper scare you. It really is a marketing brochure that is both of a non-promotional nature and a call for a much-needed update to how we define, measure and control glare. It is well-written, accessible to all, and time relevant. Let’s get this glare issue settled or least progressed. Better control of light on roadways, as well as all outdoor spaces, is better for the people in the space, better for the flora and fauna, and saves energy. The Cree paper is a good starting point to better inform the masses. Kudos to all those involved.
Let there be controlled light, and we will see that it is good.