Howard Brandston’s testimony to the US Senate

Posted March 13, 2011 // Tagged as Blog // 2 Comments ↓

Howard presented the following very eloquent testimony to the US Senate Energy Committee on 10 March 2011, It states the case beautifully:

Chairman Bingaman and ranking member Murkowski, thank you for inviting me to testify today in support of S395, The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act.
My name is Howard Brandston – I am a lighting designer with over 50 years experience and have completed nearly 3000 projects in approximately 60 countries. I am particularly proud of the work I did for my country, the United States of America. A short list that of that work you might recognize includes: The US Pavilion, Expo 70, Japan; Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Seneca Falls, NY; Memorial for Women in Military Service, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC and the relighting of the Statue of Liberty, New York City, NY.

I am here today to ask that you revisit a portion of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that provides for a de facto ban on the traditional incandescent light bulbs. I firmly believe that the restrictions put on incandescent lamps will have a significant negative impact on almost every residence in our country. I believe how one lives in their home is a decision that rests with the occupant and is not the purview of the government. I believe this violates the very principles upon which this nation was founded and I, as a devoted citizen, am most proud of, our freedom of choice in our personal lives.
What disturbs me even more is that the restrictions placed on incandescent lamps will not save enough energy to be worth the expense and the risks that every person in America will be subjected to. Some of the most knowledgeable people I know have begun to stockpile a lifetime supply of incandescent lamps to protect themselves from the need to use Compact Fluorescent Lamps. The public at large does not understand the problems as these professionals do. And further, the misleading claims made about the benefits of the lamp technologies that are touted as beneficial replacements seduce people to purchase these products. We have over 100 years experience using incandescent lamps. By comparison we have very little experience using the new light sources – especially in residences.
You will hear a wide range of statistical data of energy saved in comparative terms that give the illusion of saving energy and the environment- the plain truth is – according to the Energy Information Administration – only 3.6% of total energy is consumed by incandescent lamps. So you will save some portion of that miniscule number. But I ask, when you enter everyone’s home, and subject them and their families to the list of potential consequences I will list, is that worth it? I do not believe it is.

Consider the following:
• Lighting is not a product – it is a system designed for a purpose. This act separates one component of that system, the light source, and that destroys the success of the final design.
• Although lamp manufacturers are developing new sources to compete with the incandescent lamp, if they are so superior they should be able to compete in the open marketplace where price will be a factor. Alternative lighting to the incandescent lamp will have to be worth price differential.
• The Compact Fluorescent Lamp contains mercury. This 2007 light bulb standard brings a deadly poison into every residence in our nation.
• The plastic lamp jacket warning is totally insufficient to protect the user. It is a cop-out to protect the manufacturer.

• We do not have enough knowledge of the potential consequences of being continuously exposed to the electromagnetic fields Compact Fluorescent Lamps emit. There are millions of people with Lupus, an auto-immune disease. Exposure to low doses of light from these lamps causes a severe rash. There are over one hundred auto immune diseases.

• Currently you come home and your old fashioned incandescent lamps provide a safe, flattering comfortable scene. You can easily dim these old lamps and the light they emit becomes even more inviting.

• The compact fluorescent lamp does not dim well and the color of the light it emits deteriorates as you continue to dim it.

• If you do not install these lamps in appropriate fixtures they might cause a fire. Save energy by incinerating part of your home.

• The cost to retrofit your lighting to use the new light sources may be beyond the financial and technical capacity of most home owners.

• This Standard sends lamp-manufacturing jobs to China.
I have a particular passion for saving energy – I was a member of the committee that wrote the first energy code for the USA in 1975. My contribution was the mathematical formula that set the upper power limit for lighting in that code. It was a performance based equation – not a product restricting simplistic solution. The Energy Information Administration noted that by the year 2000 it cut the energy used for lighting to pre-1970 levels. It cut in less than half the energy used for lighting by 1990.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 ignores the fundamentals of good lighting practice and intrudes on our ability to choose how we live. Please respect the privacy of our homes, allow people their indispensible right to choose how they live and light their homes and eliminate the restrictions on the incandescent lamp.

Thank You. I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

2 Responses

  1. peter

    April 8th, 2011 at 13:23

    Yes that was good,
    a lonely voice among the consumer (:-O) and other “stakeholders” talking in the hearing.

    I was also invited to make a statement for the Senate hearing record so it should supposedly be available online shortly from the senate energy committee
    (apparently anyone can make such additional comments
    for inclusion, I only found out from having talked to committee people)

  2. Tashia M. Burton

    February 10th, 2012 at 05:39

    I agree the lighting of a household should be decided by the occupant and not the views of the government. Most consumers know that there are better ways to live and contribute to society, and give back to the earth.

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