This week, we are thrilled to announce that Design Conformity has certified over 1,000 commercial furniture designs! This is a significant milestone for us, and we are excited to celebrate this achievement. In this article, we’ll take you on our journey, from our humble beginnings to where we are heading, and share some insights into what makes our certification process unique and valuable for our clients.
In the world of retail fixtures and furniture, electrical standards have been a grey area for quite some time. Although UL970 was launched in the US in 2020, there was nothing for us to work with in the UK and Europe. That’s why, in 2018, we decided to take matters into our own hands and launch the first edition of the dc Retail Design Guide (3.718), with help from the NICEIC and the Lighting Industry Association.
Over the last five years, we’ve certified over a 1,000 retail fixture and furniture designs for 50 global brands, ranging from beauty and banking to the car industry. Our guide outlines all the considerations for the safe and effective design and installation of lighting systems within retail fixtures. It also clarifies the requirements for compliance to UK and CE standards, such as the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations in the UK and Low Voltage Directive in Europe. To ensure that all components and subcomponents, including LEDs, meet our standards, we developed a series of testing methods. The main test is the dc050 Electrical Test and Inspection for installed systems.
The resulting dc 050 certificate has been adopted by major retailers like Boots, M&S, and NEXT. Our certificate provides ‘type’ approval and ensures compliance to the guide, which can be achieved by using a standardised, modular electrical system that ensures safety and allows for easy maintenance and upgrades.
Mike Maher, the Principle Electrical Engineer at Boots UK, was the first to adopt the dc standard, and as a result, Boots is recognised as an industry leader in fixture and furniture electrical standards.
“People forget that electrified displays are mains powered and just because equipment contains LED’s and other extra low voltage components it doesn’t mean they are automatically safe. We’ve been working with Design Conformity over the last five years to develop our display lighting standards and ensure all our staff and customers are safe. At the same time, we’ve also made commitments to reducing our energy and carbon emissions and the using the dc standard is helping us to achieve that very successfully.”
Mike Maher, Principle Electrical Engineer, Boots UK
How do you specify efficiency?
In 2020, we incorporated the EU’s eco-labelling for LED lighting and made it a requirement to have grade C efficiency or above. Although this hasn’t been adopted in the UK yet, we’re pleased to see that manufacturers and suppliers have begun to adopt and integrate this efficiency standard for their products. Many of them now have standard product ranges that exceed our initial specification.
Since introducing the C grade requirement just two years ago, we’ve already seen energy consumption fall by an average of 35%. This, coupled with increasing energy costs, supports the business case needed to ensure displays are more financially and environmentally sustainable. here.
By establishing targets and measuring energy efficiency we’ve seen consumption fall from an average of 108 W/m2 in 2017 to 56 W/m2, in 2022, a reduction of nearly 50%.
How does ‘efficiency’ affect a product’s carbon footprint?
Soon after introducing the grade C efficiency requirement, we started receiving inquiries from customers wanting to understand how much impact energy consumption contributes to the carbon footprint of their retail fixture or furniture. To understand this, we brought together a group of industry experts to analyse the carbon footprint of fixture and furniture designs. We followed the Green House Gas (GHG) Scope 3 assessment method used to achieve ISO14025 Type 1 eco-labelling. The process measures the CO2e in the materials used in construction, their sourcing, manufacturing (production), distribution, consumption during life, and then the end-of-life process, such as recycling.
Our initial work found that energy consumption can account for up to 75% of the carbon footprint of an illuminated retail fixture and furniture. However, with the introduction of efficiency targets, we’ve seen the average fall to 34%, and it’s still improving.
Who produces the most efficient displays?
We currently work with over two dozen manufacturers in the retail industry, and the data we’ve produced is used to benchmark manufacturers, display types, and brands. One manufacturer that consistently ranks in the top three is Diam Group.
“We’ve always been committed to good design and quality manufacturing, but more recently, our customer’s commitment to sustainability has pushed us further. By using dc’s Circular Design Certification, we can benchmark ourselves against other manufacturers and brands and ensure we stay on top of the industry. At the same time, we can report savings to our clients, and they all want to be able to show they’re more sustainable.”
Mert Gundogdu, Design Director, Diam Group
What about the other influences in the carbon footprint? (We’ve accounted for 34% what about the other 66%)
While efficiency is a critical part of carbon reduction for electrified displays, the main contributor comes from the amount and type of materials used in the construction of fixtures and furniture. This accounts for an average of 54% in illuminated displays and 89% in non-illuminated displays, Reducing the percentage impact of materials presents a requirement for a much deeper design strategy, including Reduction, Reuse and Recycling.
In the next blog, we’ll explore material reduction in more detail, but we want to take this opportunity to thank all the lighting suppliers that have released new products that meet the C grade requirement (or above) and whom are working together to help improve the carbon efficiency of their customers.