Though there is broad consensus that one of the solutions to the current environmental challenge will be based on the use of low-carbon technologies, and even though there is a big potential to turn to a more sustainable design and innovation, there are several elements that need to be taken into account to be able to achieve efficient reductions of energy and CO2 emissions and at the same time design a product attractive for the consumer, in terms of price, level of service and aesthetical demands, to ensure its strategic implementation. This paper takes the Danish office lighting sector as a study object and discusses the question: What are the main possibilities and challenges when designing low-carbon illumination technologies? To answer this question, we use a systemic approach including environmental, economic, energy and political issues using relevant concepts from the Ecological Footprint, concepts and tools from Life Cycle Assessment, and relevant elements from eco-efficiency theoretical frameworks. Often systemic approaches tend to be driven by completely rational models. However, our main contribution is to consider a more holistic approach that also includes socio-psychological aspects such as consumers’ demands (aesthetic disposition, habits and different light tastes and needs). This is done by integrating relevant elements from eco-innovation and Service –Product System frameworks. Our empirical material is based on iterative interviews with relevant actors and experts within the Danish illumination sector and a consumer (user) research that included qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey. Furthermore, as a central part, our research included the design, fabrication and test of a new hybrid illumination system based on optical fibres and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) with the cooperation of a trans-disciplinary team.
Day light, Low-carbon Technologies, Consumer oriented design, holistic design, hybrid lighting, light transport systems