Cities Fighting Climate Change: What Can Smart Lighting Do?

Guilherme Faria
Business Developement Manager - Schréder Hyperion

The figures are stark: according to the UN, global carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 in order to keep the rise in global temperature at a level where our planet is livable. In 2015, 196 parties signed the Paris Agreement to achieve this aim, of limiting global warming to well below 2°C - ideally 1.5°C - above pre-industrial levels. 

At the same time, people are continuing a trend of the last few thousand years, and moving to cities. More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and 68% of us will be living in cities by 2050, according to UN forecasts. The exchange of ideas, the attraction of living in hubs and the economic opportunities that city living brings are all well documented - but it also puts cities under immense pressure. According to the University of Leeds, cities are responsible for 75% of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and their populations are growing rapidly.

The battle to stop our planet overheating will be won or lost by cities. What can they do?

Time to Get Smart

Cities worldwide are coming up with innovative policy choices to help the planet. Huge investment in bike infrastructure, switching energy supply to renewables and encouraging citizens to borrow, not buy, are all great ways of saving resources and cutting emissions. Many cities worldwide have already harnessed the energy efficiency of switching their lighting to LED, but the new generation of control systems allow resource saving to go far beyond this.

Smart, sustainable and resilient lighting systems integrate sensors and dimming so that lighting can be adapted to reduce energy consumption without compromising on safety. We offer a wide range of dimmable options, from time-controlled systems, to motion sensors that track cyclists and ambient sensors that come on when ambient light levels drop below a certain level. Many of these systems were developed to protect wildlife or prevent light pollution but they all, conveniently, enable energy savings as well.

Helping the City of Oranges Go Green

Valencia, Spain, is globally renowned for its delicious oranges, but the city wanted to go green when it updated its lighting infrastructure back in 2015. The city worked with us to bring more than 100,000 luminaires under the control of the Schréder EXEDRA system running on Microsoft Azure. On top of that, we delivered over 20,000 luminaires across the city’s old town and historic sites to blend in with the magnificent architecture.

The city of Valencia has reduced its energy costs by 74% thanks to Schréder smart lighting system

One objective of the new lighting was to get more people, both residents and visitors, walking and cycling in the city, all year long. Another goal was to upgrade the luminaires in Albufera Natural Park while respecting the circadian cycles of the abundant flora and fauna there. And another important aim was to reduce light pollution for residents, so they could enjoy the starry skies.

Seven years on, the project has been an immense success. Valencia has created safer, more attractive, spaces after dark. The energy savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions are also remarkable. Since the lighting units were installed in 2015, the city has reduced its electricity consumption by 25,725 megawatt hours per year. That represents a 74% reduction in consumption, producing savings of more than €6 million in energy costs during the first year. Better still, it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 13,403 tons of carbon dioxide - that’s an incredible 80% - per year.

We expect the savings to continue to increase as we extract more consumption data from the operation and analyse why reductions have occurred. Using the information we get from Schréder EXEDRA, we can continue to expand energy-saving activities and reduce or eliminate actions that waste energy.

Vincente Mayans Savall - Head of Lighting for Valencia City
Vincente Mayans Savall
Head of Lighting for Valencia City

Integration Equals Sustainability 

In a truly smart city, lighting doesn’t just have to be lighting. The SHUFFLE can integrate other technology, such as CCTV, WiFi and environmental sensors. The modules can be swapped in and out, which makes for much more sustainable infrastructure. Firstly, the upgrade to LED will reduce your lighting’s carbon footprint. Secondly, combining all of the different elements in one column means less material is needed in manufacturing, meaning emissions are reduced during the manufacturing phase. And the modular design means elements can be mended and replaced, meaning it is truly a part of the circular economy, as well as being an attractive, circular shape. 

As a manufacturing company, we at Schréder know that our operations have an impact on the environment. In addition, 95% of a luminaire’s environmental impact is related to energy use over its lifetime. Schréder’s “Together for Our Planet” strategy was built to make a positive contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular:

Schréder is reducing its carbon footprint by 20% for 2022, compared to 2018, and in 2020, we already achieved a 16% reduction compared to 2018. 

From Green Fields to Green City

One theory about Groningen is that it’s named after the flat green countryside that surrounds it. The Dutch city has been chosen to join a European Union initiative which aims to create 100 climate-neutral, smart cities by 2030. Taking part provides the opportunity for Groningen to be at the forefront of the transition to carbon neutrality and the fight against climate change - causes which are especially important when your city is 7 metres above sea level.

Groningen is reducing energy costs and its carbon footprint with Schréder smart lighting system

The city also wants to develop a circular economy, and has upgraded its 9,000 luminaires to more energy-efficient LED fixtures, with some 3,500 of them supplied by Schréder. To help the city achieve its targets, we recently set-up a pilot project with 70 TECEO luminaires fitted with the latest Owlet IV nodes and controlled by Schréder EXEDRA in an industrial zoning where there is little activity at night and so no need for full lighting. 

The luminaires are dimmed throughout the night to not only reduce energy consumption but also reduce light pollution, an important objective for the city, with a progressive dimming schedule to reflect the gradual reduction in footfall. Once the city has been able to evaluate the results, it plans to adapt and extend the results to other urban areas.

With Cities, Every Step of the Way

We know that cities hold the key to reducing global carbon emissions, and we know they can’t do it alone. That’s why our experts, who have been working for decades on illuminating monuments, urban placemaking, and lighting roads in cities and towns, put reducing energy consumption at the heart of everything they do. That’s why we’ve been a longstanding participant in Smart City Expo World Congress, the leading international event for cities. And it’s why you should get in touch with us to help achieve your sustainability goals - for everyone’s tomorrow. 

About the writer
As Business Development Manager at Schréder Hyperion, our Smart City centre of excellence, Guilherme focuses on the huge potential of smart city applications for cities. Passionate about making the world a better place through technology, he translates challenges into questions and answers into actionable solutions. In his spare time, Guilherme likes to volunteer and make a positive contribution to society. 

Connect with Guilherme on LinkedIn.