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Responding to Climate Change 2011

Home | Regions & Cities | Royal Philips Electronics Lighting up the urban agenda

Lighting up the urban agenda

Royal Philips Electronics

Philips supplied image

Less than a century ago, under 10% of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, that proportion stands at over 50% and, by the middle of the 21st century, it is estimated three-quarters of us will live in cities. By 2030, nearly five billion people will be living in cities, as some 60 million people – equivalent to the population of Great Britain – move into urban areas every year.

Many of these new city dwellers can be found in the emerging markets, where conurbations of 20 million inhabitants or more are rapidly expanding. At the same time, cities in developed regions like Europe and North America must adapt as they become population hubs for service economies and the post-industrial age changes the very nature of city life. Faced with this unparalleled expansion, municipal authorities worldwide are now recognising the need to create cities and towns where it is safe and enjoyable to live, work and do business, and relax.

As just one example, crime rates are rising in urban areas, and close to one billion people – almost a third of all city dwellers – live in slum conditions. Quality of life (urban safety, security, health and well-being), the promotion of commerce, entrepreneurism and tourism, and historic preservation are all high on national agendas. Regardless of region and social structure, all cities share commonalities: all wish to establish an identity, a signature that defines their appeal and their differentiation from other cities in the world, their region, or even their nation.

This isn’t only about civic pride, but also an effort to ensure that they remain viable and competitive in the global marketplace.

The Environmental Cost of Light

Philips supplied image

A climate change agenda has become both a political and an economic imperative for the world’s leading economies. Urban environments also carry environmental impact, contributing heavily to the consumption and cost of energy, while disturbing the balance of nature through artificial light, pollution and waste. Cities account for 75% of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. To tackle this, governments increasingly apply legislative measures to reign in carbon emissions and meet internationally-agreed targets, while at the same time they commit significant investment towards infrastructure projects that stimulate growth and drive a sustainable global economy.

To retain both private and corporate citizens, cities must maintain safety and security, either through tackling and preventing criminal activity, or by providing safer streets for both motorists and pedestrians alike. Poorly, or inappropriately, installed lighting can decrease safety – and more than 80% of people feel safer with bright, white light than with poor quality yellow light. Furthermore, there are financial benefits to well-designed lighting. Cities can save by reducing crime while they recoup the investment of improving street lighting between two-and-a-half and ten years, through reduced operational costs of energy and maintenance.

We can’t, however, escape the fact that artificial light is an essential part of lighting urban environments, not only after dark, but also as part of a city or town’s identity. But it does come with an environmental price.

Lighting accounts for 19% of all electricity consumed (Source: IEA), and non-residential buildings (offices; schools; shops etc) and streets – particularly in urban environments – represent 75% of all electricity used for lighting. Global savings of around EUR120 billion in energy costs and 630 million tons of CO2 a year are achievable (the major part in cities), just by switching from older lighting to the latest lighting technology. A growing number of over a hundred cities are doing something about their energy burden. Philips is passionate about creating inspirational, desirable, liveable cities across the globe. It’s their goal to make cities safer, more comfortable, more beautiful and livelier, with the least impact to the environment.

Beauty and Business

Cities and towns have good reason to want to appeal to the public; when they’re vibrant, beautiful, interesting and safe, they attract people. Philips lights up many of the world’s biggest cities and their most iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Acropolis in Athens, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, and last, but certainly not least, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace in London. LED lighting has brought new life to many local identities, as the creative and colourful possibilities of LED transform both the exterior and interior of our buildings.

Philips is playing a leading role in this metamorphosis by providing architects and lighting designers with flexible architectural lighting solutions that enable them to, quite literally, ‘paint’ with light. And let’s not forget that by highlighting benefits of low-carbon (LED) solutions, we should be able to accelerate the transition to a more resource efficient society where we enjoy relaxing and working in liveable cities and enhance people’s lives with lighting.

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs more than 116,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR23 billion in 2009, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at

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