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Fluorescent lighting - quality matters!

From: Jeremy Fretts [jeremyf@architectural-alliance.com] 
Sent: Friday, August 23, 2002 3:41 PM To: 'greenbuilding@crest.org';
Subject: RE: [GBlist] Regular vs. Fluorescent Lighting 

I'm only beginning to understand the wide variety of lighting choices, but I'll speak from what I do know...

1)Philips makes a product called "Alto" which uses less mercury and is easier to recycle/dispose of. It even comes with green-colored endcaps. I think GE makes a comparable product.

2)CRI (Color Rendering Index) and color temperature (degrees K) make a HUGE difference! CRI refers to how accurately colors are portrayed. A low CRI makes everything look dull and grey. Color temperature refers to "cool" or "warm" tones. The off-the-shelf el-cheapo fluorescent lamp (bulb) has a CRI of around 60. A good lamp - readily available if you look closely - can be as high as 85 or 90 (on a scale of 100, with 100 being 'perfect' color rendering) You can also get full spectrum "daylight" bulbs which have a high CRI. (Sylvania "Sunstick" for example, available at Lowe's )

Color temperature goes from "warm" (3000 K) to "cool" (4500K) to "daylight" (6500K). From my recent research through product catalogs you can get nearly any "color" with a good color rendering index! Warm tones are good for skin and food - hence the reason you might see them marketed as "bath and kitchen bulbs" -- they make people and food look healthy! That's also why some grocery stores use different lighting over the produce section.

Lowe's and Home Depot both stock better-than-average bulbs, and even the "daylight" kind IF YOU LOOK FOR THEM. Just know what you're looking for, and fluorescents can be much better than the "typical" installation you are accustomed to experiencing.

Hope this helps, 
Jeremy Fretts 

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