The economic and ecological benefits of EEL involves tackling three crises with one solution writes Harry Verhaar
Climate crisis. Energy crisis. Global economic crisis. After a year like this one, it can seem like crises are overwhelming us. And these three are all interconnected. When we try to tackle one, we impact the others. So are we facing a triple threat? A combined global challenge of unprecedented proportions? Assessments like the Stern Review remind us of the stark economic consequences of inaction. We must move forward. And there are many politicians, scientists, thinkers and industrialists with inspiring visions of how we can.
At Philips, we share these positive perspectives. Yes, the crises exist. But we can “reframe” these crises as opportunities. We not only think it’s possible; it’s essential. And we’re acting on it.
In a similar way to replacing energy inefficient incandescent lamps in our homes, the ‘green switch’ to energy efficient lighting in our cities and non-residential buildings offers a huge opportunity to cut emissions and energy usage that we have barely begun to tap.
In fact, making the green switch in our urban environments is an opportunity for a triple win:
• You and I, as end-users of lighting, get lower costs and better quality light.
• The environment benefits from lower energy usage and lower emissions.
• And the economy wins from lower costs and greater competitiveness.
So what’s so exciting about lighting? Lighting accounts for 19 percent of the world’s electricity consumption. That’s a huge amount and a huge opportunity to cut emissions and our electricity bills! What’s more, the beauty of switching to energy efficient lighting is that we can make cuts today. In terms of climate change mitigation, that is the biggest win of all.
On the 7th December 2006 Philips made a call to phase out energy-inefficient incandescent light bulbs. This call particularly targets the 25 percent of lighting electricity consumption that happens in our homes. It’s a call that has been subsequently taken up around the world, and the phase-out of incandescent lamps seems to have passed ‘the tipping point’ having gained global momentum towards phase∞out within less then a decade.
All this represents a remarkable transition that we hope will provide an example and inspiration for other such energy transitions.
In addressing the non-residential part of the equation, it is clear that the size of the opportunity is even larger, given that cities are responsible for 70 percent of total global energy consumption, and buildings accounting for 40 percent of that global total. More specifically, in terms of electricity used for lighting, public and commercial buildings represent 60 percent of the global total, and street lighting 15 percent.
Globally, if we put energy efficient lighting in our non∞residential buildings we could achieve savings of ¤62bn. We’d also make emissions savings of 330 million tons of CO2. That’s a non-negligible proportion of the savings we need to reach the IPCC’s 450 stabilisation case and it’s something we can do today.
In your city, your office block, your factory, your school – through a simple switch to energy efficient lighting – adding also daylight and presence detection controls – one can make a big difference. And when each of us acts, the combined effect is huge. This change has to be in all buildings. It’s great to create highly energy∞efficient new buildings. But the real target should be the existing building stock. If we don’t focus on renovation, we are missing out on 99 percent of the opportunities to make savings!
The situation is critical. Our research shows that 80 percent of existing lighting technology in non-residential buildings is out of date and inefficient. And only one percent of buildings are equipped with controls to detect daylight or the presence of people. So the opportunities are big. The rate of change isn’t. In renovating existing buildings we have found that for individual buildings energy efficient lighting can provide energy savings from 40 percent up to 70 percent, thus reducing operational cost and carbon emissions, while creating a more productive working environment.
So how can we move from talk to action? How can we turn challenges into opportunities, and opportunities into wins? Philips has just announced one immediate action. In July 2009, we will phase out electromagnetic operating gear in our luminaires, as well as older, less efficient versions, of our TL fluorescent technologies. This is ahead of the EU legislation’s legislation on energy-efficiency which will come into force in 2010.
For us, this kind of voluntary move is a concrete way in which we can help drive energy efficiency and gain time in the race to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
On top of this, in January of this year, we have launched an initiative to accelerate renovation of existing city and non-residential lighting installations. It will help make energy efficient lighting accessible to public buildings, offices, factories, schools, shops – anywhere it’s needed.
Our initiative consists of three elements:
• Firstly, assessment tools to calculate the energy performance of your current installation and the costs of a new one.
• Secondly, a complete portfolio of energy efficient products and system solutions.
• Thirdly, we are putting in place financial support, because we recognise that both initial and renovation cost can be a genuine barrier to change.
We put assessment tools first, because you need to begin by quantifying the potential. Energy benchmarking lets you generate a breakdown of your specific energy saving potential in terms of kilowatt hours, costs and CO2 savings. This kind of analysis is also a great way to raise awareness among the people who will be directly affected by the change – the people who live in your city or use your buildings. Imagine motivating your staff or students in school by involving them in your plans. And don’t forget, energy efficient lighting is not about making sacrifices. The quality of light will not go down. In fact, the latest energy efficient lighting will provide a significant quality boost. Your city or buildings will become appealing, better places to be.
The final element in the programme is finance.
Over its lifetime, energy efficient lighting delivers financial savings. At times of rising energy prices, the Total Cost of Ownership is attractive as this street lighting example shows, but the initial costs and costs of renovation are higher than simple replacement. That is why Philips is currently working with leading banks and finance companies to create financial solutions to complement our lighting solutions.
We also believe that governments have a role to play here. Business can deliver technologies and financial solutions, but if governments also provide public funding, in part through economic stimuli packages, the effect will be multiplied. The global economic crisis should not divert us from this. In fact, it should spur us on. With a triple win available – social, environmental and economic – we urge governments to act.
Energy∞efficient lighting is a catalyst for innovation; a driver for new sustainable, people-focused businesses. It will help us build knowledge for the next generation. In renovating our cities and buildings, we’ll develop the skills we need for the new sustainable economy. It will generate employment, and boost economic prosperity and growth. That’s why we urge city authorities, building owners and governments to join us in acting on this opportunity – to go after the triple win – for people, the environment and the economy.
We have the tools and the technologies. And when you add the finance, we have all we need to make the switch. The only thing we do not have is time. So if you are wondering whether we can make it happen. Our answer is clear and simple. Yes, we can!