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Architects and engineers bringing sunlight deep into the interior of buildings around the world have picked up one of Scandinavia’s most prestigious environment awards.
The 2008 WWF Carl Mannerfelt Prize recognized the technique’s potential to dramatically reduce the need for electric lighting.
The three engineers and two architects from the Swedish company Parans Solar Lighting AB developed a system using solar panels and fibre optics to collect and lead natural sunlight to lighting fixtures in dark areas of buildings.
“It is an excellent example of an initiative which combines environmental issues with long-term, sustainable economic and technical development,” said the jury. “The system has gained attention and been installed in many areas around the world.”
The WWF Carl Mannerfelt Prize is an annual award given for successfully combining nature conservation and environmental control with technical and economical development.
Its jury includes WWF-Sweden Secretary-General Lasse Gustavsson, as well as representatives of The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.
“Climate innovations such as solar lighting have great potential to contribute towards a transition to a smart, low-carbon economy,” said Gustavsson.
Construction engineer Torsten Mattson had begun to address the issue of how to effectively illuminate dark areas inside buildings when he met Bengt Steneby, an architect who came up with the fibre optics solution.
In 2002 Nils Nilsson and Marcus Fransson from the Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship in Gothenburg met and developed a product together, while Rikard Eduards was responsible for market research in Europe.
Parans, a member of WWF-Sweden’s Climate Solver campaign, has approximately 50 installations throughout Australia, the Philippines, China, India, USA, Canada and Europe. In Sweden, Parans technology can be found primarily in hospitals and public facilities.
“We are extremely honoured and inspired,” said Fransson, now Managing Director of Parans. “This really confirms how our little project is developing and becoming quite meaningful.
The prize amounted to €31,000 and Fransson said: “The money will be used to finance an exciting research project which will further improve our technology.”
The WWF Carl Mannerfelt Prize, awarded for the 15th time, is a result of a donation by Dr Carl Mannerfelt who combined work as a business leader with an interest in conservation and physical geography. The motto for the prize is “Conservation and Development”.