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More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and that percentage continues to rise at an unprecedented rate. By 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities – and more than 3 billion people will live in new, expanded, or renovated urban settings. Given that cities account for 70% of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, this rapid urbanization has tremendous implications for our use of energy and natural resources.


Outdoor lighting – which includes roads, streets, paths, parks, city centers, landmarks and public spaces – is central to making our cities smarter, sustainable and more energy-efficient. At present, outdoor lighting accounts for up to 40% of the total electricity consumption of cities and municipalities. Street lighting alone is the biggest line item on a municipality’s utility bill, accounting for 10 to 38% of a municipality’s budget. In the US alone, an estimated 26.5 million public streetlights (most of them more than 25 years old) consume as much electricity as 1.9 million households, and generate greenhouse gas emissions equal to those produced by 2.6 million cars. Increasing the energy efficiency of street and public lighting therefore stands to have an immense impact on the overall sustainability of our societies. In addition to sustainability, the notion of “livability” is gaining momentum. As urbanization accelerates, cities have to compete more for people and businesses, which requires them to create strong civic identities and attractive living environments. The Philips Livable Cities Think Tank has identified the three essential ingredients of a livable city: resilience, inclusiveness, and authenticity. Resilience focuses on a city’s flexibility and ability to adapt to changing conditions and requirements; inclusiveness refers to a city’s ability to generate a sense of community in all sections of the population, irrespective of gender, age and ethnicity; and authenticity is the local character or identity of a city.

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The LED future: outdoor lighting for sustainable, livable cities

13 May 2019

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