Philips: Smart lighting systems can champion the circular economy

EXCLUSIVE: Connected lighting systems can act as the "backbone" of the smart buildings transition to promote resource and energy efficiency, the senior director of sustainability at Philips has said.

The Dutch firm has been a pioneer of LED lighting for the past decade, and Anton Brummelhuis, who has worked at Philips since 1987, told edie that the Internet of Things (IoT) would soon enable lighting systems to promote the circular economy.

“Connected lighting can serve as the backbone of smart buildings and smart cities,” Brummelhuis said. “If each light point becomes smart and connected and can monitor wirelessly, it offers many new capabilities for innovation.

“IoT allows for what we call intelligent asset tracking. If all light sources have IP addresses, you can address hardware as part of the circular economy. We can monitor the performance of each individual light source and we can we see how it is used. It has more value for the second user because we know how many hours it has been used for and what it’s condition is based on that. It’s another area arriving from connected lighting.”

Philips is a global partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation aimed at supporting the transition to the circular economy across respective industries. The Dutch firm believes that the circular economy will enable “additive rather than subtractive manufacturing”.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) values the e-waste ‘black market’ at $19bn, with authorities struggling to monitor illegal trading and dumping. But the rise in IoT, and associated IP addresses, will enable companies to trace and monitor their electronical products, with the aim of responsibly disposing of them or generating a second life for them.

Lightbulb moment

Brummelhuis claimed that new LED rollouts would serve two functions. A ‘social’ aspect would match lighting to the needs of the individual, and is already being utilised in hospitals to mimic natural lighting to help with patient recovery. Earlier this year, Philips unveiled a LED street lighting project on the island of Ameland with a light spectrum designed to be friendly to migrating birds.

The other aspect of the LED bulbs will be to enhance resource and energy efficiency. Brummelhuis claimed that combining LED lighting with IoT characteristics could deliver energy savings between 50% to 80%.

The data aspect of IoT would also create parameters for the bulbs when they reach the end of their operational life. Data will be able to trace how often they were used, and therefore what kind of repairs are needed for reuse.

Brummelhuis also suggested that connected lighting would interact with other systems, such as ventilation, to increase or reduce performance by monitoring the number of people in the room. The use of real-time monitoring through the lighting allows other systems to react to reduce energy use at times of low demand.

Philips has turned to innovation to create more demand for LED lighting, which Brummelhuis suggested was suffering from a sense of “inertia” in the mass market. Philips Lighting partnered with the Dubai Municipality to launch the “world’s most sustainable LED lamp“, which has been developed for residential and professional use across the city by 2017.

The company could soon incorporate these bulbs with IoT technology. Philips partnered with Vodafone to launch an IoT network with an integrated LED street light management system, which could see cities across the world slash energy use by 70%.

Anton Brummelhuis at edie Live 2017

Philips’ senior director of sustainability Anton Brummelhuis is among the expert speakers appearing on stage at edie Live 2017 at the NEC Birmingham on 23-24 May. 

Brummelhuis will be in the Strategy and Innovation Stage on Day 2 of the show, in a session focused on preparing for long-term challenges, with examples from those with an eye on the horizon.

Find out more about edie Live 2017 and register for your free two-day pass here.

Matt Mace

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