(Note: The best way to reduce the carbon footprint of seed starting is to start seeds outdoors and use natural sunlight and rainfall. When seed must be started indoors, use the most efficient lighting to get the job done.)
For the plant sync, we use 48″ shop light-style light fixtures to grow plants indoors year round. Many hobbyists use similar products with fluorescent lamps to start seedlings indoors, and University extension websites suggest the use of these fixtures. These lights, of course, use power and cause greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficient LED shop lights are now available and affordable at retail. While they were not designed for growing plants, we have used these shop lights for our growing operation and they work just fine for germination and early plant growth. Commercial operations seeking to generate a product with exacting specifications would need to test and use more expensive commercial, LED lighting products.
We used a watt meter to confirm the energy savings of LEDs. A replacement of one fixture saves more than 100 kwh/year. As of the end of 2018, LED shoplight fixtures are now price competitive with fluorescent fixtures. LED lamps that can replace fluorescent lamps in existing shoplights are also now affordable.
This ticker below shows an estimate of the cumulative and ongoing reduction in carbon dioxide equivalents from the LED replacements we have made so far.* We have more fixtures to replace. By supporting my GoFundMe campaign you can instantly reduce global greenhouse emissions by paying for a replacement fixture.
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*Calculations are based on 100kwh/year/fixture saved and 70.3 kg/year/fixture CO2-equivalent emissions . This is an estimate. Actual values will vary depending on the specific fixtures, the source of power, and other assumptions. (see EPA for calculator)