Public spending for lighting 'needs to move indoors’

COPENHAGEN - It’s time to stop thinking of energy savings as our main goal for lighting, and start thinking about how lighting can make our lives more meaningful through better health, happiness and academic achievements, an industry expert has said.

But for this to happen, public funding needs to be directed toward indoor lighting in schools, hospitals, offices and places where elderly people live instead of predominantly being used for outdoor lighting upgrades.

Speaking here at a conference arranged by the European Commission-backed educational initiative Lighting for People, professor Reine Karlsson of Lund University said: ‘Public spending on lighting development has primarily been on outdoor lighting, but to achieve better wellbeing, it’s indoor lighting we need to focus on. That’s where the melatonin and dopamine and the circadian cycle is most affected.’

Karlsson added: ‘Lighting is no longer just about energy savings, it’s about quality of life. It’s about much greater human possibilities.’

‘Of course there are other benefits of outdoor lighting, but we need an innovative development process in indoor lighting.’

Karlsson cited the Lighting for People project as an example of how research entities around Europe are coming together to create a paradigm shift with health and wellbeing at its core. The project, part of a European Union R&D programme, brings together a consortium of members from EU countries to enable cities, research entities and companies to share their knowledge and increase the uptake of solid-state lighting in Europe.

Yesterday, representatives from cities, collaborative clusters and companies involved with the project met in Copenhagen to share success stories and spark new connections and collaborations. ‘There has been a realisation that we couldn’t just go on making the same energy savings,’ Karlsson said. ‘Lighting development should be about added value, we need a change of mindsets.’

Meanwhile, the outdoors will be back in the lighting industry's focus today, when the Copenhagen suburb of Albertslund officially opens its LED-centric smart city experiement.