Circular lighting for schools with the school superheroes!

    May 26, 2020


    My passion for sustainability is rooted in my youth. In my house, food was never thrown away but later consumed or given to the dog. Rainwater was collected and used for the garden and to wash the car.


    My parents’ attitude to waste made sense... We have an environmental problem and waste reduction helps alleviate it. Besides, your time can only be spent once and there is only one earth; future generations also have the right to live a healthy life.



    Besides this awareness, reading the book ‘Cradle to Cradle’ was a major eye-opener that contributed to my passion for sustainability. In it, authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart describe the situation we have created as humanity on our planet.


    They propose a practical and philosophical solution. The Cradle to Cradle philosophy offers the right tools to establish an economic system that is good for the environment, good for people, and good for the economy. This is also known as the Circular Economy. By developing new business models and thinking differently, even more financial gain can be made.

    This inspired me to contribute to this better world. I started pioneering with a company that provides light as a service to schools while simultaneously teaching children the importance of sustainability and energy efficiency.

    Astronauts and the Circular Economy


    Schoolhelden improves learning environments through better quality lighting – because children and teachers deserve a healthy classroom. This will inspire kids to become ambassadors of sustainability and is therefore the start of a bigger movement. 


    Schoolhelden improves learning environments through better quality lighting – because children and teachers deserve a healthy classroom."


    Joop Vaane
    Founder Schoolhelden

    We do this by providing schools with LED lighting, enabling them to save thousands of Euro per year on energy costs. By working together with Signify Foundation, we can offer LED lighting that’s affordable for all schools. LED lights provided not only as a product, but also as a service. Schoolhelden remains the owner of the lamps and guarantees the school energy-efficient lighting for a fixed monthly amount. This makes the classrooms more energy efficient, resulting in improved learning performance of the children and less absenteeism among teachers. At the end of the lamps’ lifetime, we ensure proper recycling. The image below shows Schoolhelden’s circularity model:
    Schoolhelden infographic

    In 2017 we lit up our first school with LEDs applied by the principles of the Circular Economy. During the launch event, I dressed up as an astronaut and told the children the story of renowned Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels.


    Specifically, I explained that we are all astronauts. Astronauts of Spaceship Earth. Being an astronaut is great, but also comes with great responsibility. Be good to your spaceship, otherwise you can’t live in it anymore. This landed really well with the children as they directly came up with ideas to help keep the world clean.


    Be like an astronaut, be aware, and show your stewardship in your everyday actions!

    Schoolhelden presenting

    About the author:

    Joop Vaane

    Joop Vaane

    Founder Schoolhelden

    More stories from Signify Foundation

    • Better learning environments for children with special needs

      Better learning environments for children with special needs

      Lighting lives – Ukraine: Retrofitting a kindergarten for special needs children with improved, energy efficient lighting.

    • Great lighting ideas

      Great lighting ideas

      Signify, formerly Philips Lighting Foundation facilitates energy efficiency training for children from underprivileged backgrounds through Weekend School.

    • Signify Netherlands donates lighting to secondhand stores

      Signify Netherlands donates lighting to secondhand stores

      On the International Day of Sustainability, Signify and Vattenfall donated 47,000 Philips LED lights to secondhand stores across the Netherlands