Circular Lighting Report

Going circular is ‘our toughest test’ – top designer

Paul Nulty of lighting design practice Nulty

Moving to circularity is one of the toughest tests that the lighting design industry is facing, says a leading lighting designer.

Paul Nulty, founder of global lighting design practice Nulty, says the transition ‘feels like an almighty knot to unpick’.

Writing in Designing Lighting Global magazine, he says it requires us to ‘consider the whole life cycle of design – from the carbon footprint of the design process itself, through to what happens when a scheme comes to the end of its life – and somehow loop all these elements back to create a circular economy’.

He believes that the task has been eased by the arrival of the TM66 Technical Memorandum from CIBSE and Society of Light and Lighting.

‘Pre-TM66, lighting designers struggled to categorise luminaires in the context of the circular economy as this meant either wading through reams of data about materials, manufacturing, and supply chains to build an accurate picture, or accepting that information wasn’t available or forthcoming.

‘In the post-TM66 world, easy-to-use checklists and easy-to-understand ratings turn a highly complex subject into a clear and transparent methodology.

‘It’s been a great leveller for the industry, providing us with a standardised assessment tool and a springboard to greater clarity and responsibility.

‘In the short space of time that our team has been using TM66, we have felt incredibly motivated as a practice to be more accountable for the luminaires that we specify.’

Earlier on in the year, Nulty embedded TM66 – winner of a prestigious Build Back Better Award in 2021 – into the practice’s design process and set itself the target of achieving a 2 and above score for 50 per cent of specified luminaires over a period of six months.

‘We were frustrated at being part of the conversation but not seeing any real momentum for change,’ says Nulty,  ‘so this is our small but significant commitment to making circularity a non-negotiable attribute on our specifications.’

‘We also feel strongly that a data-driven analysis approach can help us educate stakeholders outside of the lighting design industry, and challenge value engineering to ensure that the aspiration for circularity at the front end of a project is matched with an appetite for longevity at the end.’

• Diary date: Circular Lighting Live 2024, Recolight’s flagship conference and exhibition, takes place on Wednesday 9 October 2024 at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Free to specifiers, Circular Lighting Live 2024 will feature leading experts, specifiers and policy makers who will share their insights into forthcoming standards and legislation, emerging technologies and new business models. More info:

Ray Molony

Recolight Report is an independent guide to the latest developments in sustainable and circular lighting. Learn about the people, products, projects and processes that are shaping our industry’s low carbon future. Plus: explainers on the latest innovations, opinion from thought leaders and video interviews with leading disruptors. Edited by lighting expert, editor and industry figure Ray Molony.