The results of recent field trials of rechargeable community solar lighting kits for isolated villages now are being analyzed to help researchers in New York City turn their inventions into a sustainable business plan. Photo: Courtesy of the SociaLite Project Charging station does 13 LED lamps at once. The lighting kits contain the electronics to build 80 lanterns, but the rest of the materials are locally sourced. Lamp bases are made from used cans, gourds or sections of bamboo. Translucent plastic juice bottles provide the diffusers. “This is changing people’s lives,” says Toby Cumberbatch, a professor at the Cooper Union
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.