”Well, in my job, it is an advantage to be curious”, Josefina smiles.
”To ask, and to ask the right questions, I believe is the key to a successful sustainability initiative. And if the answers you get aren’t good enough, then you’ll have to ask again. As companies become better at making demands on each other’s supply and value chains the opportunities for change are increasing dramatically”, says Josefina who devotes her workdays monitoring suppliers as well as on going sustainability projects within the Fagerhult Group.
She herself is one of those committed professionals who decided to change her careers in order to make a difference.
”I’m a trained chemical engineer and started my career working in a laboratory. But I really felt it was the wrong place for me. Environmental and sustainability issues have always interested me. Working in the laboratory I could see the causality but had no possibility to achieve changes. Instead I applied to the manufacturing industry. Here at Fagerhult, I have the opportunity to put my knowledge into action.”
Sustainability may cost
A good dialogue with suppliers is crucial, says Josefina.
”For example, the electronics industry is one of the most difficult to monitor. There are so many aspects. Which minerals are included, how have they been excavated, and by whom? Where have the components been manufactured and under what conditions? At Fagerhult we have made the decision only to purchase electronics from the world’s leading manufacturers, manufacturers that can provide proper documentation. It may cost a little more, but it is totally worth it.”
Working with high quality electronics is not only important from a human rights perspective and for the environment.
”When we choose high quality components, we also know that they will perform well and last longer, which ultimately benefits the environment as well as being economical for our customers.”
Chemicals are another carefully monitored area. Under no circumstances are dangerous flame-retardants and plasticizers allowed in the cables of a Fagerhult fitting.
”These types of substances are often used as additives in plastics and are regarded as endocrine disruptors. As they are imitating our bodily substances they are likely to affect the reproduction of humans. They have also been associated with certain diseases and children appear to be especially vulnerable. This is a subject which I personally think is extremely important.
Exceed the requirements
Sustainability efforts have become an important economic force in society.
”Awareness is increasing in society. As an individual, I have gained greater power to influence the market by my own purchasing decisions, which in turn also affect corporate behaviour”, Josefina says.
Laws, regulations and industry initiatives – including RoHS, WEEE and REACH – are other important driving forces. In addition to legal requirements, Fagerhult has also chosen to follow systems for environmental certification of buildings, for example LEED and BREEAM. Another common requirement from the customers are assessments made by private Swedish stakeholders called SundaHus (”Healthy Houses”) and Byggvarubedömningen. By these assessments the materials and components in the luminarie are evaluated from an environmental and health perspective.
”In many ways, these demands formulate tougher requirements than laws and regulations, which we see as an advantage. That means we’re one step ahead. By following this, we also facilitate developers and customers with high ambitions in sustainability.”
Introduction of GRI G4
Fagerhult follows European laws and regulations regardless of where in the world production takes place.
”This also applies to products we manufacture at our own plant in Suzhou, China. Not because we have to, but because we want to! In the end, the products will reach our customers in Europe anyway. It is our responsibility.”
”We’re really proud of our Suzhou facility. Recently it was audited by one of our customers, known to have extremely high demands on their suppliers CSR-work. The facility was approved in all respects.”
As part of Fagerhult’s sustainability efforts and future strategic focus, one has decided to start reporting according to the new GRI G4 guidelines. A materiality analysis has been conducted in order to investigate what employees and external stakeholders consider to be the most important sustainability issues to consider now and in the future. Stakeholder perspectives have been supplemented by a contextual analysis with focus on mega trends, trends in the lighting industry and sustainability trends relevant to Fagerhult.
”This is a important step, allowing us to further prioritize sustainability activities on the basis of our customers’ needs and desires.”
Six sustainable Fagerhult features
1. "We treat metal sheets as if they were made of gold"
Minimizing the use of steel in production is an effective way to conserve resources, energy and transport weight. We do it by reducing the thickness of the goods – in Multilume Flat for example, we’ve optimized the sheets from 0.7 to 0.5 mm. In the design phase, we optimize utilization so that waste materials can be used for new details. For example a sheet can be used for the manufacturing of both the body and the mounting plate.
2. "We’re cooler than the average"
Ballasts are extremely sensitive to heat. When they are exposed to excessively high temperatures the luminaire’s efficiency and life expectancy are considerably reduced. Manufacturers of ballast always indicate a recommended temperature level, which may be exceeded by up to five degrees. In order to keep the margins on our side, we always develop our luminaires to keep a temperature five degrees lower than recommended. This actually means that our luminaires perform ten degrees below the manufacturer’s limit, doubling the lifetime of the ballast.
3. "We produce our own energy"
For our own production we choose electricity from renewable energy sources when possible. In our Swedish factories we mainly use energy generated by hydropower. At our large production facility in Habo we even have our own heating system powered by locally produced wood fuel. The school in Fagerhult village is also heated by the boiler.
4. "We screw instead of gluing"
By choosing smart, flexible solutions when assembling our luminaires, we facilitate disassembly for recycling. We avoid gluing fixtures as glue makes the luminaire difficult to disassemble or – worst case scenario – to recycle at all. Instead of gluing, we choose to assemble with screws. Some fixtures, like the new Multilume Slim, is assembled without any separate details at all. By using innovative folding taps in the design, the luminaire is folded like an envelope.
5. "We’ve reduced the material & weight in our downlights"
LEDs are constantly evolving, offering more light for less power. This means that we’ve also been able to optimize the cooling systems. For example, we’ve made a redesign of the two cooling bodies in our Pleiad G3 downlight; resulting in weight reductions by 167 grams (22%) and 100 grams (16%). This saves a lot of material and weight during transport. We’ve also reduced the coating of the bodies with one layer, with a positive environmental effect.
6. "We’ve got our own lighting laboratory"
Fagerhults lighting laboratory is one of a kind, allowing us to evaluate new innovative ideas and technology. Founded in the mid eighties, authorised by Semko (today a part of Intertek) in1993 hosts advanced technology to monitor every step of the development process. Through careful measurements, we optimize the luminaire’s energy efficiency while ensuring that the light is glare-free and contributes to a good working and living environment. Our laboratory is also certified to carry out the safety and quality tests required by law.