AKASHA Amazes: GE and Janmar Help Chic California Restaurant Flaunt Unique Environmental Style

CLEVELAND, Ohio — (NYSE: GE)  From the all-natural ingredients used in the food to the hemp fabric furniture and organic cotton uniforms worn by the staff, every detail of AKASHA was developed with sustainability principles in mind. Located in Culver City, Calif., the new five-star restaurant, bar and bakery features American style cuisine in a hip, creative and environmentally conscious atmosphere.

“It’s extremely important that all of my suppliers for AKASHA share my values with regard to the environment,” explains owner Akasha Richmond, a renowned chef and popular author. “I want my customers to know that everything they see in AKASHA was selected for a reason. The atmosphere is both chic and responsible, and the food is absolutely delectable!”

The focus on environmental impacts extends to the lighting design as well. In a collaborative effort, GE Appliances & Lighting, Light Group and Janmar Lighting joined forces to develop a design focused on using innovative technologies in new and unique applications. This new approach not only defies traditional beliefs about restaurant lighting, but also offers AKASHA a total savings of more than $5,000 per year by reducing its energy consumption.

Environmental styling
Developing an energy-efficient lighting system that would still offer a high quality of light and appear warm and stylish presented a significant lighting design challenge. Traditional restaurant lighting sources such as halogen or MR16 incandescent lamps were not to be used in AKASHA’s lighting design. Only low-energy lighting technologies such as LED, ceramic metal halide and fluorescent were acceptable, and these types of lamps still had to create a hip and lively dining atmosphere for the customer.

To evaluate and overcome the many design challenges, AKASHA brought in architect and design firm Preen. Designer Alexis Readinger immediately sought the expertise of John Barlow of Light Group and Janmar, a fixture manufacturer that specializes in creating energy efficient lighting solutions that have the look of incandescent. The team swiftly devised a plan to ensure the lighting system for AKASHA would mesh with the restaurant’s overall environmentally conscious theme.

Using predominantly 20-watt ceramic metal halide and dimmable compact fluorescent lamps from GE Appliances & Lighting, the team was able to create a solution that still offers exceptional light quality and atmosphere.

Although the use of ceramic metal halide technology is very prominent within the retail sector, it is extremely rare in the restaurant industry. The use of such a unique technology for this type of application presented a number of functionality issues, including a perceived lack of color options and no dimming capacity. The team had to get creative.

“Traditional restaurant lighting uses halogen and MR16 lamps to produce a warm and inviting atmosphere with superior quality and a precise distribution of light,” explains Michael Aubrey, President of Janmar Lighting. “With AKASHA, we found a way to use mostly GE’s CMH® lamps to achieve a similar effect. We did it by adding a halogen color filter and hexel louver to warm and soften the light, which created a dimmed effect without actually dimming the source. The result was an energy efficient lighting system that still maintained a warm incandescent look and feel with high visual drama.”

The alliance between the three lighting companies was a natural fit. “We knew we wanted to use a ceramic metal halide -based design, and GE is an industry leader in low-watt ceramic metal halide technology,” says Aubrey. “We designed our fixture to be compatible with GE’s 20W CMH lamps, and the result was a cutting-edge lighting solution that sets the standard for quality ceramic metal halide lighting.”

Significant energy savings
AKASHA’s focus on the environment is paying off, literally. The restaurant is realizing significant savings in its total energy costs, in large part due to the well-planned lighting design.

“The decision to use technologies like ceramic metal halide and dimmable CFLs may have been unconventional, but it was an ingenious way of achieving substantial cost savings,” says Mary Beth Gotti, manager of GE’s renowned Lighting & Electrical Institute. “Not only did the designers develop an innovative solution that is sensitive to environmental impacts, but they were able to offer a real value proposition to the customer.”

Aubrey estimates the GE 20W T CMH lamps are reducing AKASHA’s overall energy consumption by approximately 77 percent when compared with a standard design using MR16 and halogen lamped fixtures.

“There is no denying that ceramic metal halide systems cost more upfront to purchase,” admits Aubrey. “But when you factor in the tremendous amount of cost savings over the life of the system, plus the exceptional quality of light output, it really becomes an easy decision for the customer.”

That decision has clearly proven to be the right one in the eyes of the restaurant’s owner. “The lighting design and quality of the light throughout AKASHA is just beautiful,” says Richmond. “And the best part is that we’ve done it in a way that is still sensitive to the environment.”

With its chic and environmentally conscious atmosphere and its five-star quality cuisine, AKASHA aims to delight, to excite, and especially, to amaze California diners.