Presented by the Designers Lighting Forum of New York

March 19–20, 2024
New York Hilton Midtown, New York City

2022 Conversation Between NA and Europe on Embodied Carbon and Circular Economy in Lighting

Conversation Between North America and Europe on Embodied Carbon and Circular Economy in Lighting

Leela Shanker, Borealis Lighting Studio  |  Russell Greenberg, RUX and Stickbulb |  Emilio Hernandez, Green-Light Alliance |  Yuliya Savelyeva, Arup
Jonathan Visser, Zumtobel (Amsterdam)  |  Iris Dijkstra, Atelier LEK

Virtual Monday
March 14, 2022

10:30AM - 12:00PM EDT


2 LU | HSW

While the business of lighting has traditionally been highly regionalized, achieving global targets to reduce our collective carbon footprint and material waste requires efforts on an international scale. Lighting Designers and Manufacturers around the world have recognized the need for global action to optimize the effectiveness of our product and design innovation for environmental and social impact. Join us for an upbeat highlight of current action and approaches emerging in North America and Europe with perspectives from the design and product side across the regions.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand basic terminology associated with embodied carbon and circular economy principles as they relate to the lighting industry.
  • Outline current trends in product design innovation specific to luminaires in response to embodied carbon and circular economy lighting design principles
  • Outline current trends in product specifications of luminaires in response to embodied carbon and circular economy lighting design principles.
  • Identify issues involved in setting standards for reliable comparison of the environmental impact of luminaires through market driven and regulatory frameworks in different territories.


Leela Shanker
Lighting Designer, Borealis Lighting Studio

Leela Shanker is a New York-based lighting designer with Borealis Lighting Studio and a contributing member to the Green-Light Alliance (GLA) - an international network of lighting professionals progressing industry-led standards, research and advocacy for circular lighting design principles. Her current work with the GLA, AIA’s Committee on the Environment (COTE) and Carbon Leadership Forum New York chapter centers on lighting-specific issues related to Embodied Carbon and Life Cycle Assessment.

In her role as Lead, Lighting with WeWork’s Global, in-house, lighting design team, Leela initiated a sustainability study into embodied carbon associated with key fixtures used in WeWork's global standards. With BR+A, this work continues in collaboration with the Lighting and Sustainability teams.

In 2021, Leela’s work with the Flint Collective NYC, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation she founded to improve the experience of public space through light, was recognized with a Lumen Award Special Citation for Lighting as a Tool for Social Impact by the Illuminating Engineering Society NYC in 2021.

Leela holds a Master of Architecture (Hons) and Master of Fine Arts - Lighting Design from Parsons and a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Sydney. She has written for lighting industry publications including Designing Lighting, Mondo Arc and illumni. Leela has guest lectured at Parsons School of Design and Syracuse University and is an active member of the IALD, IES, AIA and DLFNY.

Emilio Hernandez
President, Green-Light Alliance

After 15 years in lighting design working on a diverse range of projects and sectors Emilio recently moved from London to Umea in Sweden and has co-founded ‘Ström’ (with his partner Anna Sandgren). This move has provided the independence to form partnerships to help develop & promote the sustainable lighting design values needed as we head to a net zero carbon future. As an active member of the lighting community Emilio has spoken at design conferences and provided CPD’s and is one of several founding members of the Green-Light Alliance and current sitting chair. The GLA is an independent organization with a mission to move towards Circular Economy in Lighting Design. It’s powered by volunteers and operates without commercial affiliation. Recent activity articles can be found on the Website or our Linkedin profile.

Yuliya Savelyeva
Lighting Designer, Arup (San Francisco)

Yuliya is a lighting and daylighting designer in Arup, San Francisco office. Coming from a multidisciplinary background, she is interested in creating structures that not only maximize well-being, comfort and fulfillment of people, but also spark curiosity and challenge the way one perceives surroundings. Yuliya is particularly interested in the role of lighting in sustainability, ecology and the circular economy. Some of her projects include: Redmond Pavillon in Seattle,WA; Lowline, New York City; Worldwide Salesforce projects, YAP MoMA PS1 installation, MTA and BART transportation projects, Kaiser & UCSF healthcare projects.

Russell Greenberg
Creative Director, RUX and Stickbulb

Russell Greenberg is the Creative Director of RUX and Stickbulb. His designs range from an award-winning mosque to water purification systems, porcelain busts, connected jewelry, vending machines, and sustainable LED lighting.

Russell founded RUX in 2008 as a platform to support his diverse interests and foster a collaborative design culture. Over the course of the following nine years, he led the studio in developing new products and intellectual property for the likes of Unilever, Samsung, Mozilla Firefox, and Pernod Ricard, as well as for startups in the packaging, consumer product, cleantech, and mobile tech industries.

In 2011 Russell introduced his idea of a modular system of LED sticks made from reclaimed wood to the team at RUX, and in 2012 co-founded Stickbulb with Christopher Beardsley to further develop the designs and bring them to market. As Creative Director of Stickbulb, Russell coordinates the evolution of the core collection, refines the company's sustainable business practices, and provides the vision for large-scale sculptural works like Ambassador, which won Best In Show at NYCxDesign week in 2017.

Following the sustained success of Stickbulb, Russell restructured RUX in 2017 from a client-facing creative agency into a platform to design, build, and grow RUX-owned brands exclusively. His vision is to curate a diverse community of ethical and responsible boutique companies, each of which explores a finite theme.

In 2018 based on his deeply held belief that “Time does not need to be about precision, It can be about poetry” Russell co-founded, Gradual with his long-time collaborators Managing Partner Christopher Beardsley and Product Design Director Minchul Hong. The brand is dedicated to retelling the story of time through the creation of objects that shift perspective and widen frames of reference. Russell served as the lead creative for the brand’s first collection, LIGHTWEIGHTS, which received a Fast Company Innovation award in 2019.

Prior to founding RUX, Russell founded the architecture department within Studio Dror, where he led the design of Nurai, an artificial island resort in Abu Dhabi.

Russell graduated cum laude from Yale University in 2002 and received his masters from the Yale School of Architecture in 2006, where he was awarded the HI Feldman Prize, the school's highest design honor.

Iris Dijkstra
Founder and Industrial Design Engineer, Atelier LEK

Iris Dijkstra finished her Masters degree in Industrial Design Engineering at the Technical University of Delft with specialization Sustainability and since has specialized in lighting design. In 2004 she founded Atelier LEK (Light Energy Color) a widely-oriented, independent lighting design company that focuses on the quality of lighting experience: in public spaces, exterior and interior of buildings. Atelier LEK works at a variety of levels: master planning (Amsterdam Sloterplas (NL), Tilburg (NL), Arnhem (NL) illuminating architecture and art (Janskerk in Utrecht, Witte de With, Rotterdam) and interior lighting. (HQ Randstad, Theatre LantarenVenster, Library Rotterdam). Also corporate identity and product-design are skills of our Atelier, like the award winning Central Plaza Rotterdam. Lighting represents many values which are experienced best when lighting is designed as an integrated part of a larger concept. Iris Dijkstra and the designers of Atelier LEK are trained to work within a multi disciplinary team and in co-creation with stakeholders and end-users to achieve the best quality and sustainability in the lighting designs.

Jonathan Visser
Area Sales Manager and Sustainability Ambassador - BENELUX, Zumtobel (Amsterdam)

Inspired by the effect light has on people, Jonathan has spent the last 10 years working in lighting; initially in London, with the last 4 seeing him based out in the Netherlands. Driven by a desire to understand a project’s requirements given the designer’s wishes and the user’s needs has meant more than a passing interest in, amongst others, topics such as Human Centric Lighting and purpose-driven design. This has led to him seeking to both expand his own knowledge and share the same with others by becoming a member of the Lighting Design group within the NSVV (Dutch Lighting Association). By looking at how the usage of a space changes over time (and trying to anticipate the same); an ever-increasing interest has developed in sustainable (particularly circular) design, resulting in Jonathan getting in touch with, amongst others, the Green Light Alliance and Jonathan has since become a Sustainability Ambassador for the BENELUX region within the Zumtobel Group to help further the conversation on this issue. Sustainability within the built environment really requires an integrative approach versus focusing on any one aspect over another and having the opportunity to further connect with members of the North American lighting community in order to see what can be achieved by working together; not just on the topic of eco-friendly design, but lighting in general, is something he is particularly excited by.