Artistic Licence: Lights Out for Earth Hour

Reprinted from Lighting and Sound America Online, 10 April 2009:

Hailed by the World Wildlife Fund as “the world’s first global election,” Earth Hour took place on the evening of March 28. To show concern for global warming, individuals and major organizations around the world were encouraged to vote “Earth” by switching lights off for one hour, or vote “global warming” by leaving lights on.

The aim is to collect one billion votes for “earth” and present the results of the election to world leaders at the 2009 Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the outcome of which will replace the Kyoto Protocol.

“We have a great concern for the environment at Artistic Licence and wanted to show our support by teaming up with some of our customers who share our concern about the threat global warming is imposing on us,” says Artistic Licence’s managing director, Wayne Howell.

The property management firm, Broadgate Estate Ltd, a founder member of the UK Green Building Council, provided just such an opportunity. Broadgate had organized the “lights-out” for Earth Hour in all of it estates—including the installation of in-ground lighting at Finsbury Square on which the company had worked with Artistic Licence in 2004 and for which it again called on Artistic Licence to help implement the switch-off on March 28.

The Finsbury Square installation consists of a large, in-ground array of color-changing lamps, laid out in a semi-symmetric pattern. The array uses over 650 individually controllable light modules, each providing independent colour mixing creating a dynamic floor of colour with effects ranging from subtle moods of color to dynamic animation.

The concept was designed by Mark Ridler of Maurice Brill Lighting Design, who called in Artistic Licence to develop, manufacture and install the system, thereby creating Colour-Tramp in the process.

Artistic Licence’s Colour-Tramp is a new breed of lighting controller that communicates via the Art-Net Ethernet standard and implements all the functionality of Remote Device Management.

Operating as both a lighting controller and as an installation management system, it was one of Colour-Tramp’s newly implemented features that was used trigger the Earth Hour switch-off on voting day.

Howell was able to program the switch-off to happen automatically at 20:30—and reinstate at 21:30—by simply emailing the controller installed on site. The feature allowing Colour-Tramp to be remotely control by email was only introduced earlier this year.

“That’s how easy it is to maintain control of an installation’s energy consumption,” says Howell. ” We have already instituted power saving measures on the Broadgate Project with the recent introduction of astro-triggering to ensure the display only starts at a time relative to sunset. Now we can send further instructions quickly and easily to fine tune performance and power usage.

“Artistic Licence is dedicated to developing more efficient forms of lighting and control and our product range reflects this.”

“Our current work involves the newly formed Zero Carbon Project which aims to bring together the combined knowledge and technical expertise of our industry to develop sustainable, alternative forms of lighting through micro power generation. In our industry we are in a position to make a real environmental difference.”

Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 and by 2008, 50 million people worldwide joined the cause as lights were turned out on landmark buildings such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney Opera House and the Colosseum in Rome.

In 2009, the movement has earned the backing of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Artistic Licence and Broadgate Estates have pledged their support alongside the London Eye, Beijing’s Bird’s Nest, the Pyramids at Giza, the Empire State Building and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar.

To join the discussion on Artistic Licence’s Zero Carbon Project please email:


Go to the Green Theater Initiative