Philips calls on conventional hospitality industry

More can be done to make hotels sustainable, says Rogier van der Heide

Rogier van der Heide, chief design officer of Philips Lighting.
Rogier van der Heide, chief design officer of Philips Lighting.

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Rogier van der Heide, chief design officer of Philips Lighting, has challenged the hospitality industry to become more sustainable, claiming that hospitality, along with retail, remain “the most conventional” when it comes to the uptake of new, sustainable technologies.

“By definition hospitality is not sustainable at all, once you take into account what it takes to get to the hotel, by train, by plane, by car. But if you look at the actual hotel, you can do a lot there – beyond the little card in your bathroom that says put your towels on the floor when you want them to be washed. You can do more substantial stuff.

“I haven’t seen really hotels being innovative like that, in terms of harnessing daylight and bringing it into the space. Corridors are still very dark and in most hotel rooms, the lighting is halogen. If you’re lucky they replace it with fluorescent.”

As the former global leader of Arup Lighting, and a lighting designer that has worked on projects such as The Yas Hotel, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, and the Bird’s Nest in China, van der Heide has been a pioneer of LED solutions for ten years. “They gave me the freedom to design what I had in my mind,” he said.
“[With LEDs], we see all kinds of new form factors that were not possible before. The architect has greater freedom because if we do the right thing with LEDs, then we unlock the design potential of the architect, and that is our ambition.”

At present, LED solution represent 10% of Philips’ business, but van der Heide predicts a rapid take-up globally of LED solutions over the next few years. “In three years time that will be 50%. We are ramping up production and development at an incredible speed. The market will follow slightly behind but we see 50% of lighting solutions world-wide being LED within five years.

“These are staggering numbers. I would say there will always be very niche applications of other light sources but in general LED has become a really good alternative – very energy efficient and very easy to maintain. And the concerns that were there until recently have been more or less tackled. Every six months there is new generation of LED lights and they outperform the previous ones on energy and on light output, but also on things like colour temperature and colour rendition. It’s commonly perceived that LED is a cold light source, well we can show you LEDs that feel as warm as an incandescent lamp.”

Lighting trends are not driven by technology, van der Heide noted. They are driven by social and behavioural patterns, which is why Philips takes a more user-centric approach to product development.
“If we just develop a new type of LED and bring it to market, it may well not connect with people and their lives. So we do it the other way around and we first look at what really motivates people.”

When it comes to lighting trends, key drivers include an ageing population, a more empowered consumer and a growing desire to personalise one’s environment. “People want to shape their own environment,” said van der Heide.

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