The National Lighting Bureau Wants the Phrase “Artificial Lighting” to GO AWAY

Parental Advisory: Explicit Semantics!

I got an email yesterday from John Bachner at the National Lighting Bureau with a press release about something the NLB is fighting – the use of the phrase “Artificial Lighting.”  The NLB is not happy with the way that ‘artificial’ and ‘lighting’ get used together.  From the press release:

“This is not the first time we’ve attempted to eliminate ‘artificial lighting,’” said Bureau Executive Director John Bachner. “But no matter what we do, we see it every day.” He’s not talking about the illumination systems that make contemporary living possible – think how little would get done well or at all without lighting – but rather the term “artificial lighting.”

“‘Artificial lighting’ is a misnomer; it makes no sense,” Bachner said. “Artificial things aren’t real. Artificial leather is not leather. It may look like leather, it may feel like leather, it might even smell like leather, but it’s not leather. And the same could be said about artificial glass, artificial wood, and even artificial foods, like artificial crab and artificial cheese. They may be real something, but they’re fake whatever it is they’re trying to appear or taste or smell to be. That’s not the case with lighting.”

Bachner should know whereof he speaks. A National Lighting Bureau staff executive since 1976, he is a Harvard English major who has been published extensively on a variety of subjects, including proper use of the English language.

“The light we get from electric illumination systems is real light,” Bachner said. “There’s nothing artificial about it.” He suggested that the term “artificial” was applied to distinguish electric and other types of man-made lighting from “natural lighting.” “‘Natural lighting’ is also referred to as ‘daylighting,’” Bachner said, “but not all natural lighting is ‘daylighting,’ or – more appropriately – sunlight. The light we get from the moon is natural, as is the light we get from the stars and even swamp gas and lightning. Man-made lighting is predominantly electric, of course, but gas lighting is still used in places, as are torches made from tree limbs and kerosene-soaked rags, at least in the movies.”

Like many things in our lives, semantics means everything when it comes to the opinion of the masses.  What do you all think of this?

Read the entire NLB press release here:

National Lighting Bureau Calls for the End of “Artificial Lighting”

NEMA Index for Q2 2009 Is Even Lower. That Sucks.


Well, excellent. </sarcasm>  The NEMA index is at a new low – a 4.3% drop over the terrible numbers from last quarter.  Hey, the awesome banker behavior that’s apparently still going on doesn’t affect absolutely everyone, does it?  From a press release at the National Lighting Bureau:

Silver Spring, MD: The National Lighting Bureau (NLB) reports that second-quarter 2009 NEMA Lighting Systems Index data reveal an additional 4.3% drop from the first-quarter’s then-all-time-low performance. On a year-over-year basis, the Index plunged by almost 25%. And for the third consecutive quarter, no bright spots: Each covered equipment category posted lower inflation-adjusted shipments compared to the second quarter of 2008. Luminaire shipments were hardest hit.

Established in 1998, the NEMA Lighting Systems Index is a composite measure of lamps, luminaires, ballasts, emergency lighting, exit signs, and other lighting products shipped nationally and internationally from the United States by the 450 companies that comprise the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), one of the National Lighting Bureau’s founding sponsors and creator of the enLIGHTen America communications campaign ( NEMA members manufacture a wide range of products used in the generation, transmission, distribution, and control of electricity, as well as innumerable end-use products in addition to those used in lighting. The value of NEMA members’ annual shipments totals $100 billion.

The Index uses 2002 data for its 100-point benchmark; second-quarter 2009 performance receded to the 72-point level, its lowest ever.

NLB Communications Director John P. Bachner commented that “the return of the residential market probably began during the second quarter, if not the first, but whatever optimism that uptick generates has to be tempered by recognition of continuing consumer frugality and a fragile labor market. Unfortunately, that situation could dampen the sales of energy-efficient lamps, like CFLs [compact fluorescents]. Even though they can save a small fortune over their useful lives, more energy-efficient lamps have a higher first cost that many consumers are just unwilling to accept right now.”

Optimism about the return of the residential market also must be tempered by realities of the nonresidential market. According to NEMA Economic Analysis Director Brian Lego, the commercial real estate market is getting worse, not better. He noted that “office vacancy rates are fast-approaching the levels observed during the aftermath of the dot-com bust and 2001 recession as financial and business services companies have laid off scores of workers while the manufacturing sector’s downturn has produced a new record high in industrial vacancy rates…. Replacement demand for lighting as well as retrofitting to energy-efficient systems will be dampened as firms try to find short-term fixes to cut costs and restore profitability. Even as economic activity begins to recover within the next few quarters, the sheer amount of vacant office, industrial and retail space available will weigh on new construction activity, and by extension keep a lid on demand for nonresidential-use lighting equipment as late as 2011.”

Bachner said he remains optimistic that lighting retrofits will energize the market sooner rather than later. He commented, “As much as we’ve talked about energy efficiency over the years, we’ve really only scratched the surface insofar as existing nonresidential
buildings are concerned.” He said that the Bureau is in the process of completing several reviews of existing data that “are eye-opening, to say the least.”

The NEMA Lighting Systems Index can be viewed at