Yesterday’s Fixture Sample, Tomorrows Donation

This blog is not about the need to keep recyclables out of our landfills to protect the environment.  As architects, designers and LEED AP’s we know how important those goals are. This b2014-01-02 15.33.43log is about how recycling can be used for the benefit of others.

For most architectural lighting projects we design, during the early phases we request to demo and test a manufacturers light fixture in our office. Most of these fixture samples are returned or picked up by the lighting rep to be shown to other designers. Still over the years we have collected a random sampling of “one off” fixture samples that have been replaced by the next generation of cool. These fixtures are no longer useful lighting samples for cutting edge architectural projects.

We were approached by a local design college professor who was interested in taking our old fixture samples to educate his students about lighting. From our collection of outdated samples we separated out and donated the more current working fixtures that could help these lighting design students. It was great to participate and support the professors educational goals with the donation of working light fixtures.

With the educational donation done we still had a huge pile of outdated fixtures. The remaining fixtures were no longer useful to students learning about light, no longer on the cutting edge for design. These fixtures were now going to serve a better purpose. These fixtures would make the journey to the scrap metal yard. This better purpose was not the act of reinventing themselves as new products. The better purpose was that the money collected from the scrap would then be used by a local charity to help out those in need. For a light fixture, this is a pretty noble end of life.

During the scraping process volunteers tool apart and separated out the various metals to ensure the highest scrap value. From these efforts we were able to scrap the following:

2013-12-31 10.51.00420 lbs Metal

140 lbs Clean Aluminum

180 lbs Cast Aluminum

135 lbs Transformers

7 lbs Yellow Brass

49 lbs #2 Copper Wire

4 lbs Bare Brite Copper

23 ballasts.

The money from the scraped lighting fixtures was then used for home repair and to help stock a local food pantry. Of the families served, one elderly lady received a new furnace to replace the space heaters that were her primary source of heat in her home. One families home was made safe with a new electrical panel and wiring that was installed. The existing wiring had been orange extension cords wired directly into electrical devices, intentionally by-passing the electrical breakers. Countless families received through a local charity healthy food that included items like beans, rice, and canned vegetables.

When you really think about the donation of fixtures to a school, or the scraping of fixtures to raise money for a charity, these acts are not really that unique. These are just a few  examples of many possibilities when our actions take others needs into account.

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