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A leading light: Rami Hajjar, Philips Lighting

Rami Hajjar, general manager of Philips Lighting Middle East, discusses how lighting could play a huge role in energy saving

Rami Hajjar, PhilipsCould you tell us more about Philips’ Connected Lighting initiative?

As a global leader in lighting and sponsor of the International Year of Light (IYOL) in 2015, a UNESCO-led initiative, at Philips we are committed to driving the connected lighting agenda, taking lighting beyond illumination. From indoor to outdoor spaces, to personal and business use, connected lighting translates into intelligent systems that offer personalisation and increased efficiency, effectiveness and productivity across multiple landscapes and verticals.

By enabling the collection of valuable data, connected lighting allows facility managers to adjust lighting levels based on usage whether managing an office building, or an entire city.  Lighting for example on a certain street or an office floor can be dimmed at any time of day or night. This can result in significant energy savings, reducing both cost and environmental impact, a primary driver in the implementation of connected lighting systems. Or alternatively, lighting can be increased on a street should there be a safety concern, working to enhance the experience of its users.

Connected lighting can also have an additional impact on the bottom line of businesses. By delivering light to specific areas of your retail store for example, a responsive and flexible system can encourage consumers to spend more time in low-footfall areas. Furthermore transforming light points into sources of information can enhance and personalise customer experience, with push notifications sending special offers based on individual shopper history.

There are a number of energy issues around the world, but how much of an impact can efficient products have on solving these?

With more than half of the world’s population currently living in cities and urban areas, and this  number predicted to rise to close to 70% in 2050, sustainable development is a pressing concern on the global agenda. Globally the use of lighting accounts for 19% of all energy use.   The associated increase in demand on energy resources that come with growing populations and urbanisation however threaten to affect access to electricity, and thereby the proper functioning of cities. Shifting over to energy efficient resources is therefore a necessity for governments today in light of the growing pressures they face in ensuring the health and well-being of its residents, with many of them already leading the drive. With 75% of all current urban lighting inefficient, there are considerable gains to make by making the switch to LED. At Philips we predict a saving of 8% of global energy use through widespread adoption of LED.

How does shifting to LED lights help a developer in terms of energy cost?

LED offers several advantages over incandescent light bulbs including high energy efficiency, long life, and excellent quality of light, design flexibility, controllability and colour.  With  a life-span of up to 40,000 hours  and energy savings of up to 90% over traditional light bulbs, the advantages over the use of incandescent light bulbs both short term and long term are astronomic – they are simply too huge to ignore.

How long would it take for LED lights to be used across projects in the region?

Energy efficiency is high on the government agenda across the GCC region, as witnessed by the recent phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in the UAE, a step Qatar is likely to take in the near future. LED usage has been widely adopted in response and Philips has specifically helped the Dubai government to retrofit its own buildings thanks to a MoU signed back in 2013 with Dubai Municipality.

How strong is the consumer demand for LED lighting and efficient products? Are there any regulations in the Middle East that support the use of LED lighting?

In the Middle East, where electricity consumption accounts for 22% of all electricity use, above the global average, the compulsory implementation of energy efficient LED light bulbs in Dubai is helping to lower energy consumption.  Authorities there have led the evolution to LED, banning the sale of incandescent light bulbs in stores from 1 January 2015. Philips, an Energy Service Company (ESCO), an accreditation developed by the Regulatory and Supervisory Bureau (RSB) in Dubai and awarded to those companies with sufficient energy auditing capabilities, has partnered with Dubai government across several projects to help it make the switch. The certification has allowed Philips to support Dubai to achieve the goal of becoming an internationally recognised energy efficient city and achieve its target of a 30% reduction in energy use by 2030, in line with Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy. Philips has also worked closely with Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, working with the government there to upgrade its street lighting to LED, and is leading other similar initiatives across the wider region.

Could you talk about one of your recent major projects?

Philips Lighting worked with Etihad ESCO to refurbish Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) Jebel Ali and Al Awir Power Plants with LED lighting solutions. Looking for a partner with proven technology that could meet international standards in retrofitting Dubai’s two power plants, which provides the city of Dubai with all its electricity needs, Philips successfully met the criteria in a partner DEWA was searching for and began working on the project, tasked with achieving guaranteed energy savings of 68% – equivalent to 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions savings.

The project, spanning a total of five years is split into two phases. First execution and installation, which was completed in 2015, and second maintenance, which is ongoing and consists of maintaining lighting levels, quality and fixtures. Philips also worked to improve the visual comfort of occupants while working towards the energy savings mentioned above.

Could you tell us more about your work with Dubai municipality?

Dubai Municipality is working to implement LED lighting in 262 of the government’s buildings as it works towards its goal of becoming the most sustainable city in the world. In 2013 a partnership between Dubai Municipality and Philips was initiated, with Philips tasked to support the Municipality in the retrofitting its buildings from conventional to LED lighting. This was in order to meet the key objective of reducing the electricity bill on lighting by 50%, reducing maintenance costs and, most importantly, improving the quality of lighting for the employees of the municipality.

Phase-one of the project saw 15 of Dubai Municipality’s buildings having their lighting upgraded to new LED technology. A few of these buildings had very old lighting in place, making the retrofit particularly challenging. The end solution following accurate assessment was a hassle-free, risk-free solution delivering the most innovative CoreLine and GreenSpace LED luminaries to not only deliver high-quality optimum lighting but also delivery on the energy savings.

Across the 15 retrofitted buildings, a total of 57% of energy savings has been achieved, along with positive feedback from the employees of the Dubai Municipality on the improved quality of the lighting, which was said to have created a more ambient and vibrant space. The project saw Dubai Municipality and Philips receive the accolade of Lighting Project of the Year at the Middle East Lighting Awards in March 2015.

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