Collaboration leads to innovation

Innovative developments such as light as a service can happen in Amsterdam thanks to an innovative business ecosystem that’s powered by a talent pool keen on positive societal impact. Add to that a collaborative culture that builds alliances between different sectors, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for solutions that are making the city and its surroundings more liveable and sustainable.

Circular architecture pioneer

“I want to buy light, and nothing else”, remarked Thomas Rau, director and founder of RAU Architects, when talking to Philips back in 2009 about light fittings for his firm’s Amsterdam-based office. Rau’s stance resulted in a lighting system that took advantage of natural light, and included bespoke LED fittings with a combined daylight sensing and control system to lower energy usage.

A new business model

Rau’s visionary drive earned him a spot the Circular Economy Leadership category of the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Circulars awards. It also helped him advance Philips Lighting’s expanding ‘pay per lux’ business model, which operates according to the principles of circular economy. Here, customers get access to a service rather than becoming product owners, while the service provider strives to create innovative, durable solutions that are easy to maintain, repair, reuse and recycle.

From product to service

It is with the same performance-based mindset that, in 2011, Rau founded Turntoo, a company that supports the transition to a circular economy by facilitating consumption in which companies preserve ownership of and responsibility for products. In Rau’s words, “the tipping point is moving from product to service, where incentives and responsibilities shift, and core needs are addressed.” And this approach aligned with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s aim to become one of the world’s most sustainable airports.

Light as a Service

“We believe in a circular economy and want to play an active role in its realisation”, says Jos Nijhuis, CEO and President of Schiphol Group. Turntoo facilitated Schiphol’s groundbreaking collaboration with Philips Lighting and ENGIE Services – formerly known as Cofely – to bring the light-as-a-service concept to life in its 9,000-square-metre terminal building. Schiphol pays for the light it uses, but Philips owns the terminal’s 3,700 lighting fixtures and installations, which are now equipped with energy-efficient LED lamps that consume 50 per cent less electricity than their conventional counterparts.

“This innovative partnership with Schiphol and Philips matches perfectly with ENGIE Services’ ambition to play a leading role in the energy transition,” explains Hans van Happen, COO of ENGIE Services. Together with Philips, ENGIE – the project’s main contractor and real-time maintenance manager at Schiphol – ensures the system’s performance and durability, as well as its reuse and end-of-life recycling possibilities, which are for now a distant thought: the terminal’s lighting fixtures, which were co-designed by Philips and architects Kossmann.dejong, are slated to last 75 per cent longer than regular fittings.

Circular ambitions become reality

“We set a new standard that matches the ambition level of the airport,” Nijhuis adds. The initiative feels right at home amongst Amsterdam’s sustainable and circular goals. “Right now, Amsterdam is Europe’s centre for sustainable building, and I am convinced that in the long run we can also claim that position worldwide,” Rau believes. Real-estate projects such as Park 20-20 and Valley are proving him right. Located near Schiphol, these initiatives stem from the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, which envisions only products designed for continuous recovery and reuse. And if that wasn’t enough, both developments will be global premieres: Park 20-20 as the first business park constructed with fully reusable components, and Valley as the first business development hub for the circular economy.