The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in conjunction with several industry partners, has released a new report, "Life-Cycle Assessment of Energy and Environmental Impacts of LED Lighting Products." The report is the conclusion of a study of the energy usage of an LED from its creation to its retirement. Part One of the report compares the energy consumption of incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED lamps. (A 60W lamp was used as the test source.) Part Two examines LED manufacturing and performance.

This is the first report to holistically examine the energy and natural resources required in the production, shipping, operation, and disposal of LED lamps. Fifteen criteria were used in evaluating an LED's environmental footprint including the potential to increase global warning, to reduce usable land for wildlife sanctuaries, to generate waste, and to pollute water, soil, and air.

Key results from Part One of the report indicate that the average life-cycle consumption of energy by LED lamps and by compact fluorescents are similar—approximately 3,900 megajoules (MJ) per functional unit (20 million lumen-hours). Incandescent lamps, by comparison, consume nearly four times more energy—15,100 MJ per functional unit (20 million lumen-hours)—than either of those. Accordingly, if LED lamps meet their 2015 performance targets, "their life-cycle energy use is expected to decrease by approximately one half."

In terms of an LED lamp, the greatest uncertainty about its life-cycle energy use comes from the manufacturing phase. In the study, life-cycle energy use ranged from as little as 0.1 percent to as much as 27 percent, depending on the LED package. The summaries and full reports are available at 1.usa.gov/yr0cQb.