Apply Circular Economy Principles To Your Facility

The use-reuse-regenerate model in a circular economy helps facilities save energy and choose sustainable lighting options.

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By Martin Stephenson, Head of Professional Systems & Services, North America, Signify

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, commercial buildings consumed 18% of all energy in the U.S. in 2020. They are a significant contributor to our climate crisis.

On top of that, we need to transform today’s linear model of “take-make-dispose,” which is also exhausting our planet. At present, it takes a year and a half to generate the resources that the human population uses in only a year, and this is only predicted to worsen.

A Regenerative Approach

To drive climate action and sustainability, we need to rethink the ways we produce and consume—switching to a use-reuse-regenerate model. Applying these circular economy principles—particularly to your building’s lighting—can help with energy-efficiency gains and reduce waste in landfills. This approach prioritizes the reusability, serviceability, and upgradability of the lighting products, enabling you to preserve the value of your investment while incrementally reducing your facility’s environmental impact.

The time for action is now. Lighting can help you “close the loop” and shift toward a circular economy in four key areas:

  • Serviceable luminaires – Fixtures that are upgradeable, connectable, reusable, recyclable, and energy-efficient.

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  • Circular components–Exchangeable and/or recyclable parts, such as drivers, controls, and LED boards.
  • Intelligent systems – Software that allows you to monitor serviceable luminaires and enable preventive maintenance.
  • Circular services – Ways to prolong product lifetimes and provide stores with end-of-contract options.

Three Ways to Apply The Circular Economy Model

1. Explore serviceable luminaires. 3D printed fixtures are an innovative alternative. Unlike traditional fixtures, 3D printed solutions can be produced with recyclable materials, using no paint, less parts, and less screws to avoid material waste. And, when compared to traditional die casting production methods, 3D printing requires less energy, drastically reducing your carbon footprint by up to 76%. If your space needs to be redesigned or enhanced, you can reuse the raw materials and reprint your luminaires to preserve their value. Each fixture can be made to your precise specifications to complement any interior.

2. Consider switching to a Light-as-a-Service (LaaS) model, which merges lighting design, installation, and maintenance into a single, managed contract. Circular services can help enhance your lighting’s performance and extend its lifetime, supporting your sustainability objectives. Facility managers can return the equipment, reuse it, or recycle it at the end of its lifetime for greater flexibility than before.

3. Connect your lighting using sensors and cloud-based software. By leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT), facility managers can gain even greater control over their building’s lighting, maximizing energy efficiency. Automated dimming schedules, daylight- and occupancy-sensing capabilities, and zone creation allow your facility to use light only where and when it’s needed. This can reduce your space’s energy consumption by up to 75%. The technology can also analyze historical data on energy usage trends, spot facility inefficiencies, and recommend corrective actions to move you closer to your sustainability targets or help plan for a more energy-efficient future. The system can be leveraged across multiple facilities at once for a consistent, sustainable property portfolio.

Make Strides Toward Sustainability

Our world is changing, and so must the ways we care for it. Put the future first by making the circular economy a focus in your facility. Beyond unlocking energy savings and eliminating waste, circular lighting can help you streamline operations and achieve a brighter tomorrow for your business.

Martin is the Head of North American Professional Systems & Services as well as Canada Market Leader at Signify. He has 25 years of experience in business development, commercial operations and strategy, and sustainability.

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