New energy efficiency rules can change the education game


    June 26, 2023

    Connected lighting systems offer young people a better classroom experience

    When the pens went down on a new agreement to increase energy efficiency rates across the European Union, it’s hard to know whether negotiators were thinking about what the agreement’s impact would be on millions of young students.


    The debate around energy efficiency is often carried on by policymakers and industry experts, and not often by teachers and schoolchildren. Nevertheless, the way we use energy is directly connected to how young people learn. Energy efficiency offers students increased quality of life and improved learning environments. And schools benefit from lower energy bills, reduced carbon emissions, and more engaged teachers.


    The political deal on a revised energy efficiency directive (EED), reached in Brussels in March 2023, puts in place a compulsory target to reduce final energy consumption across the EU by 38% in 2030. This increased target is a result in part of the progress that the EU has made so far on energy efficiency—an average 29% reduction on projections for 2030.

    An ambitious target


    The renewed ambition represents an awareness of the key role energy efficiency plays in hitting carbon targets, and specifically the EU’s Fit for 55 plan to cut emissions in 2030 by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels. The new EED target translates into around 760 million tons of oil equivalent annually, a huge amount which will make a dent in the bloc’s significant reliance on imported fossil fuels.


    Arianna Vitali, secretary-general of the Coalition for Energy Savings, a non-profit association headquartered in Brussels, said there needed to be more assurances that the deal will be delivered on time: “With energy saving becoming more and more essential to solve the energy security, affordability and climate challenges, member states must act fast to implement the revised provisions so that benefits for citizens and businesses can materialize,” she commented.

    Enhanced efficiency


    The EED includes a special provision for the public sector to lead the way in making fresh efficiency savings with a specific year-on-year target. And member states will be required to renovate at least 3% of floor space owned by public bodies per year.


    The impact on classrooms across Europe could be huge. There are almost as many young people in education in the EU as there are adults in the workplace. But classrooms have yet to receive the same amount of attention or investment as professional offices. As a result, classrooms are often inappropriately lit and deeply energy inefficient. Along with the negative impacts on learning come health concerns. Research from the University of New South Wales has found the rates of myopia, in part caused by poor light exposure, are growing fast and could hit 50% of the global population by 2050.

    Better conditions


    At Signify, we’ve been researching the ways in which new lighting technologies can improve educational experiences for both teachers and students. Interact, a cloud-based connected lighting system and platform offered by Signify, delivers high levels of energy efficiency along with extraordinary illumination experiences and advanced data-driven capabilities.


    For example, Interact provides insights into how spaces are used, when they are occupied, and at what room temperature. Dimming schedules based on occupancy and usage patterns maximize energy savings over conventional lighting systems. The technology has been deployed by the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in one of its buildings dating back to the 1960s and used by up to 4,000 people. The results were resoundingly positive: an 80% cut in carbon emissions and a 60% saving on energy bills.


    Circadian lighting capabilities can greatly impact the concentration, comfort, and engagement of children in classroom environments. With tuneable LED luminaires, Interact can recreate indoors the changing levels and spectral profile of sunlight over the course of the day.

    Better learning


    Research from the government of Hamburg found that deploying connected LED lighting yields significant payoffs in concentration, attention span, and behavior. Over the course of a year, students were found to have a 35% increase in reading speed, a 45% decrease in the frequency of errors, and a 76% decrease in hyperactivity.

    Students switch off when they are forced to sit in classrooms which are either too dark or too bright for their needs. They are more tired, less attentive, and less willing to learn. This technology offers young people a better start in education and teaches them the benefits of energy efficiency from an early age.”


    Harry Verhaar

    Head of Global Public and Governmental Affairs, Signify

    To date, the uptake of smart lighting systems in educational buildings across Europe has been low. The revised EED could provide the market with a much-needed boost in the right direction, improving a whole generation of young people’s learning experiences. The current generation of students will be the ones most affected by climate change. It is crucial we offer them a head start before going out into the world and upgrading their classrooms should be the first step.


    The scene is now set for businesses and governments to roll up their sleeves and take meaningful action.

    Listen to this article, and discover other topic related blog podcasts, here.

    About the author:

    Jonathan Weinert

    Jonathan Weinert

    IoT and connected lighting, Signify



    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Media relations - Professional Lighting
    Claire Phillips

    Tel: +44 7956 489081


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    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2022, we had sales of EUR 7.5 billion, approximately 35,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in our operations in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for six consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 2017, 2018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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