Selling light as a service

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Philips & Turntoo Selling light as a service

Architect Thomas Rau worked with Philips to purchase light as a service. The end result was a bespoke 'pay-per-lux' intelligent lighting system to fit the requirements of the space, at a manageable price. Philips retain control over the items they produce, enabling better maintenance, reconditioning and recovery.

A collaborative project between Philips and Turntoo is a showcase for the pioneering ‘Pay-per-lux’ model.

A number of new business models have emerged in recent years that aim to capitalise on overcapacity that can be found in many industries, with collaborative use services such as AirBnB and RelayRides making use of a surplus in space and car ownership. However, a project developed between Thomas Rau and Philips sought to design out overcapacity from the start by selling light as a service.

The idea of a ‘performance economy’, developed by Walter Stahel since the 1970s, insists on the importance of selling services rather than products. Through this method, manufacturers can retain greater control over the items they product and the embodied energy and materials, thus enabling better maintenance, reconditioning and recovery. Customers benefit too, as they only pay for the service they require and use, and often receive a better service as the manufacturer has a greater interest in providing a product that lasts.

I told Philips, ‘Listen, I need so many hours of light in my premises every year. If you think you need a lamp, or electricity, or whatever – that’s fine. But I want nothing to do with it. I’m not interested in the product, just the performance. I want to buy light, and nothing else.

- Thomas Rau

So when architect Thomas Rau came to fit out the Amsterdam office of RAUArchitects, he sought to employ the principles of a performance model throughout the space. When considering lighting, Rau did not want to purchase an expensive lighting infrastructure that he would eventually need to replace and dispose of, but rather light as a service, and just the right amount to suit the building. RAU Architects worked with Philips to develop a system that could work within this new way of thinking.

Philips ended up creating a minimalist light plan that made as much use as possible of the building’s natural sunlight, again to avoid providing a surplus of material of energy. The team worked with an installation partner, CasSombroek, and used an LED light fitting for ceiling systems, adapted to be hung in the high-roofed offices. A combined sensor and controller system further helped keep energy use to an absolute minimum, by dimming or brightening the artificial lighting in response to motion or the presence of daylight.

Effective systems management resulted in a total energy reduction of 55% – 35% as a result of the LED installation, but also through optimisation by Philips; another 20% reduction.
Effective systems management resulted in a total energy reduction of 55% – 35% as a result of the LED installation, but also through optimisation by Philips; another 20% reduction.

The end result was a bespoke, intelligent lighting system that fit the requirements of the space, at a manageable price for the customer. Furthermore, by moving from a one-time sale to a ‘Pay per lux’ model in which Philips maintain ownership of the materials, Rau Architects benefit from maintenance and service, as well as the option to adapt or upgrade the setup, with the manufacturer able to recover the materials when necessary.

Following the success of this first ‘Pay per Lux’ project, Thomas Rau went on to set up Turntoo, an intermediary platform than treats products as resource banks, facilitating resource management between manufacturer, supplier and end-user. Having seen the potential of a performance offering, Philips are now further developing the business underpinnings for this model, and drawing up contracts that systemise the concept.

For more information on the project see here