Light as a Service (LaaS)

Light as a Service (LaaS)

Commercial lighting will become like Netflix

‘Light as a Service is our package for lightening the load of businesses. Think of it as something like Spotify or Netflix, but then for lighting’, explains Philip Eeckhout from Signify. It can enable companies to save up to 70 percent on their energy bills. ‘And if you build in IoT applications, too, you not only make the workplace sustainable, but also smart.'

‘Walk the talk: at KBC we think that’s important’, says Iwan Barrez. He is the sustainability manager and project leader for Light as a Service (LaaS) at KBC Corporate Banking.
We offer our customers solutions that are both sustainable and profitable. That’s how we ended up with Signify.’

But in the last few years we’ve evolved into something much more than a ‘lightbulb manufacturer’, explains Philip Eeckhout, Corporate Account Manager at Signify.
Our focus is on circular solutions, more convenience for our customers and more comfort for users.

Using LED lighting means companies can save up to 70 percent on their energy bills. KBC was a leader here, making the move to LED as early as 2013. ‘Since then, we've made the switch in all our large buildings. In the Boerentoren building in Antwerp, that delivered a massive saving: the investment paid for itself within three years.’

Lifi-system

Philip Eeckhout, corporate accountmanager Signify and Iwan Barrez, sustainability manager and project leader for Light as a Service (LaaS)

In the LaaS business model, a company no longer owns its lighting, but is merely the user. ‘We have developed a financial case for this concept and now offer it to our customers’, explains Iwan Barrez. ‘Our aim is to take all the worries away from our customers completely. They receive a full-service lighting package with KBC as the one-stop shop for everything from a lighting plan for the actual infrastructure to the management of innovative lighting solutions. We use Signify for the technological aspects, while we take care of the financial side of things. That also includes things like applying for grants from network operators because we are investing in environmentally friendly lighting.’

According to Barrez, KBC is able to compensate for the installation costs through energy savings in virtually every case. ‘The amount a company spends each month for the service is the same because of the savings generated by the new lighting; in some cases it’s even lower. Thus far, we’ve always achieved that, both for industrial environments and in office settings. Moreover, LaaS can be treated as an operating lease for accounting purposes, so that the company's balance sheet will generally not be impacted.

The periodic invoices are recognised as an operating expense on the income statement. The situation could be more complex in clean production halls which operate round the clock, because the installation costs can then rise. Naturally, the price also increases if you add lots of bells and whistles in order to create a “LiFi system”, i.e. lighting full of data communication applications.’

‘In those cases, you’re no longer talking about a one-for-one replacement, but you are also increasing the functionality’, replies Eeckhout. ‘Companies which opt for a LaaS solution can not only offer more comfort and convenience to their employees, but also to their facility management services; if there’s a problem, we will resolve it.
In addition, they no longer need to invest in lighting and can use the funds saved for their core business.’

Less cleaning

Switching to LaaS and taking out a ten-year contract does not mean that no further modifications can be made. ‘On the contrary, we use modular products’, says Eeckhout. ‘We can change the components easily. In industrial settings we can even swap the fittings with one click. We look for a customised solution for every business, without the need for radical changes to the existing infrastructure, using wiring or a wireless grid.’

‘We can also add an IoT layer. Companies can use the data to monitor their consumption closely, and at the same time we receive information on problems that we can deal with proactively. There’s no longer any need to wait several days or weeks before a flickering lamp is replaced.’
‘If you make lighting smarter by enriching it with sensors that capture data, you can generate information: how many people are present in your building and whereabouts are they? That means you can not only adjust the lighting, but also the temperature or the number of times the cleaning team is needed.
Another example is noise. Staff today often wear a headset in order to eliminate extraneous noises. Our senses can measure decibels and indicate where you can work undisturbed.’

Smart lighting

Of course, it’s still mainly all about lighting. According to Eeckhout, it’s no longer about making light, but about creating light. ‘We call that Smart Lighting’, he says. ‘And the LED lighting sector is developing at an tremendous pace, especially compared with incandescent light bulbs and fluorescent lamps, which barely evolved at all in decades. As a lighting company, we invest in IT companies so that we can add data. The user can decide what kind of lighting they want at their workplace using an app on their smartphone.’

Another example is Human Centric Lighting. ‘We simulate the natural path of daylight across the workfloor, a ‘daylight intensity curve’. That makes sense, because people are then connected to the daylight. That improves daytime performance and helps people sleep better at night. People work best around midday, when the light is strongest; the intensity gradually reduces later in the day. We have already successfully installed a number of these systems in care institutions and schools. Students work in a more concentrated way under stronger white light. And when they come in on a sunny day and are jumping up and down on the school benches, the teacher can dim the light to calm them.’
 

So won’t all employers choose strong white light, then, so that their employees work hard continuously? ‘The light intensity follows a curve, and that’s deliberate. People function differently in the morning from in the evening. Also, you can’t try to boost performance continuously’, replies Barrez.
‘Sustainability is also about thinking of the well-being of your employees. You can’t try to squeeze everything out of your staff, because that leads to burn-out and other problems. A good night’s sleep is also important, and that’s improved by gradually dimming the lighting as the afternoon progresses. You can do all of that with one light fitting. You adapt the lighting, not the room.

Circulair design

You could think of Light as a Service as the Netflix or Spotify of the lighting world. You’re paying for a service, not for a product. Signify brings an additional, sustainable dimension to this. ‘We develop our solutions from the basis of a circular philosophy. That starts with the design, of course. The majority of our light fittings can be broken down after use and reused. And where that’s not possible, they can be recycled’, says Eeckhout.
“Reducing electricity consumption also helps the company achieve its environmental targets’, adds Barrez. So why haven’t all companies already switched over to LaaS? ‘It’s just because they don’t know about it yet. Once they do, they will, because there are only advantages, no downsides.’
 

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