THIS YEAR'S LIGHTCONGRESS—A MEDIA-ORIENTED LIGHTING PROGRAM HELD IN NEW YORK City— was timed to coincide with Earth Day on April 22, 2008, and explored the theme “Today is Tomorrow.” The symposium, organized under the guidance of J. Jeffrey Johnston, president of public relations firm The Greystone Project, packed a keynote talk, two panel sessions, and exhibitor displays into a single afternoon.

The presentations began with a talk delivered by Mark Rea, director of the Lighting Research Center in Troy, New York. Speaking to Earth Day's environmental themes, Rea offered a re-examination of sustainable lighting by posing the question: What is the true cost of lighting? “Sustainability is a framework to add social value,” Rae stated. “If we think in these terms this is where there is real possibility for lighting to make an impact.” Rea pointed out that the lighting industry has “become a slave to the idea that lighting efficiency is based on lumens per watt.” He stressed that the lighting community would be better served thinking in terms of “lighting benefit per watt.” This would allow lighting to be thought of in terms of luminous functions such as sparkle, cognitive dissonance, visual interest, excitement, and economic development.

The first panel, titled “Tomorrow is Today” and moderated by New York City ConEdison lighting specialist Peter Jacobson, attempted to synthesize a discussion of methods and incentive programs working toward reducing lighting's environmental impact. The second panel, titled “The Human Ecology” moderated by Neall Diggert, vice president of commercial market development at Vista, California-based Solatube International sought to examine the role of daylight in redefining our environments.

Following the ambitious program, which could address the subject only in broad strokes, discussion was continued at an evening reception, which hosted approximately a dozen manufacturer tabletop displays including principal sponsors Osram Sylvania, Acuity Brands Lighting, and CeeLite. For more information about the program visit