SOURCE: Light Waves Concept, Inc.

March 28, 2005 10:07 ET

The Greening of Light Waves

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 28, 2005 -- According to the United States Department of Energy, illumination counts for 22% of the nation's electrical consumption. In other words, Americans spend a whopping 58 billion dollars a year to be able to live indoors and at night.

Since the first light bulb appeared, literally, above Thomas Edison's head in 1879 we have assumed the cost of lighting as an unfortunate, but necessary component of modern living. Yet, as E. Fred Schubert, a professor of engineering at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, the only school in the world offering an MS in lighting, told the Baltimore Sun in February, "It's not really an elegant solution."

In 1962, the biggest and oldest lighting company in America, General Electric, introduced the light emitting diode (LED) to the market. The LED is basically a computer chip, which uses a semiconductor to produce light. While the light output is not as bright as an incandescent or a fluorescent bulb and they are more expensive to make, the advantages are tremendous. Since that time, lighting companies around the world have followed suit -- getting in on what studies show is the future of the lighting industry.

"At the beginning, only the larger companies could afford this kind of research," said Joel Slavis from his company, Light Waves Concept, Inc., office in lower Manhattan, "but in the last ten years progress has grown at such a rate to enable smaller companies like ours -- without huge R & D departments -- to jump on the wagon." Light Waves is one of the first lighting businesses to break into the LED market. A track and studio lighting firm for the last thirty years, it began selling LEDs on its website.

"It's Haitz's law," explains Tim Seeto, head of Light Waves' LED branch. "In the last ten years prices have fallen by a rate of ten while technology grows by a rate of twenty."

And why not? LEDs use 90% less energy than incandescents and can stay lit for ten years. Straight. Imagine coming home from the hospital with junior. You put a light above his crib. When he turns 11, you unscrew it and put in a new one.

Sound too good to be true? Not so, says the Federal government. And to prove it, the Department of Energy has put $50 million where its mouth is since 2002. LEDs are now capable of producing the same light as a 45-watt incandescent bulb. In concert with partners like the Rensselaer Institute, The DOE set their sites on cutting the country's electrical consumption in half by 2025. That means fewer power plants, which means less carbon monoxide emissions, which means a sorely needed break for an environment that's seen some serious hits lately.

Light Waves' numbers reflect the growing green-consciousness of the country. Slavis is currently in negotiations to provide LEDs to the FAA, the Pentagon, the Canadian parliament and several cities, which are following the examples of Denver, Baltimore and Provo and retrofitting their traffic lamps and streetlights.

While the federal government and the Small Business Administration try to prepare for an exploding market by offering incentives to LED researchers, manufacturers and retailers city, state and federal government programs are offering subsidies and rebates to builders and businesses who use the new technology.

"It's almost shocking," said Slavis. "Just yesterday, track lighting was the hottest thing, but already LEDs are starting to rule the market. It's become the crux of my business. But, that's the reason [LEDs] will replace everything in ten years. Technology like this is the only way we'll keep our planet going."

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    Light Waves Concept, Inc.