Educational approaches bolster human-centric lighting efforts (MAGAZINE)

Aug. 12, 2019
As understanding of the non-visual benefits of light advances, LightingEurope’s OURANIA GEORGOUTSAKOU outlines the value proposition and efforts to support the roll-out of human-centric lighting in Europe.

According to a joint definition by LightingEurope and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) Europe, human-centric lighting is that which “supports the health, wellbeing, and performance of humans by combining the visual, biological, and emotional benefits of light.”

By that definition, we can outline the benefits of quality light on human wellbeing as follows:

  • Visual: Good visibility, visual comfort, safety, orientation
  • Biological: Alertness, concentration, cognitive performance, stable sleep-wake cycle
  • Emotional: Improved mood, energizing, relaxation, impulse control

Using daylight as the baseline for quality lighting, human-centric lighting aims to bring the advantages of natural light inside. But this isn’t done via a “magic” lightbulb. Instead, replicating the non-visual benefits of natural light involves a complex combination of intelligent and digital lighting. Common components or enablers of human-centric lighting include:

  • Sensors and controls to support lighting dynamics (i.e., intelligent lighting)
  • Ability to tune light in terms of both intensity and color
  • Personalized settings tailored to one’s age, gender, chronotype, preference, and activity
  • Circadian light (i.e., light that follows specific dynamics such as the 24-hour light-dark pattern of natural daylight)
  • Lighting presets that support typical activities in a given application
  • Natural light (via windows, etc.)

The presence of one or more of these features alone does not guarantee that a given lighting system is truly human centric, as human-centric lighting is highly dependent on time and place. Thus, a lighting system could be deemed human centric in the morning but have a negative effect at night. For example, a system featuring high-intensity, cool light will provide the non-visual benefits needed to help one wake up in the morning. But in the evening, that same high-intensity, cool light will prevent you from falling asleep. Instead, according to the principles of human-centric lighting, a warm, low-intensity light would be more appropriate.

With this in mind, human-centric lighting is best understood by its ability to provide the right light in the right place and at the right time. But doing so requires having a range of enabling products readily available on the market, the necessary knowledge level required to design and implement appropriate solid-state lighting (SSL) systems, public awareness about the benefits of human-centric lighting, and the proper regulations to ensure their use.

Renovation agenda drives opportunities

The phase-out of conventional lighting products under European Union (EU) energy performance rules and the EU’s renovation agenda are significant drivers for the upgrade of lighting installations and the installation of intelligent and human-centric lighting.

Europe’s renovation agenda is driven by the 2018 revision of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the EU member countries’ commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement. According to a factsheet from the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), 97% of Europe’s building stock needs to be upgraded to achieve the aim of decarbonizing national building stocks, and the EPBD rules now require that built-in lighting be included in the energy performance calculation.

The renovation agenda is backed by a wallet. The European Investment Bank created the Smart Finance for Smart Buildings initiative, which aims to unlock a total of €10 billion ($11B) in public and private financing through 2020 to incentivize renovation in residential buildings. The EU regional development and cohesion funds will have invested €178B ($200B) between 2014 and 2021 to support energy efficiency in public and residential buildings and in enterprises. [See European Commission (2016) Clean Energy for All Europeans – Annex for additional details]

Energy savings set on track

LEDification is well underway, driven by the market and supported by EU rules that phase out conventional products in favor of more energy-efficient and more sustainable LED replacement products.

The potential to deliver value in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability has been established. For example, under current EU energy performance rules, lighting is already expected to deliver 101 TWh/yr energy savings for the period 2015–2030, and the next set of eco-design requirements that will apply as of 2021 will bring additional savings on top of that.

The return on investment for transitioning to LEDs is being felt in people’s pockets, with such European consumer organizations as ANEC (European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardization) and BEUC (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs) estimating in 2018 that LEDs saved consumers between €130 and €159 (between $146 and $178) per year in their households.

Broadening education efforts

In 2013, ATKearney forecasted that the European market for human-centric lighting would be valued somewhere between just under €1B ($1.1B) and €12.8B ($14.3B) by 2020. With the aim of facilitating the roll-out of human-centric lighting, LightingEurope launched its #BetterLighting campaign in October 2018.

This comprehensive initiative is educating EU policy makers and the general public about using lighting that is good for everyone’s wellbeing and overall health. Lighting­Europe leveraged the power of social media and created a dedicated, interactive website ( Together, these mediums showcase everything that lighting can do, from the well-established energy savings to the lesser-known non-visual benefits of human-centric lighting.

On the EU front, the campaign’s “Did You Know” section includes a range of relevant facts that relate to the policies currently being discussed at the EU level.

To help the public and the policy makers better understand the important non-visual benefits of light, the campaign also includes a “Light in the Life of” feature. These stories follow three characters — a teenage girl, a working female, and a male senior citizen — through the course of a day, highlighting how they benefit biologically and emotionally from light at different times and in different settings.

Last but not least, the campaign is equipped with a collection of case studies, each of which puts the spotlight on a successful human-centric lighting project within a specific application (i.e., home, communities, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, offices).

In addition to the campaign itself, LightingEurope also promotes the industry’s vision for the Value of Lighting at a range of events. This includes the LightingEurope-organized European Lighting Summit, a biannual event that brings together the lighting industry and European leaders. This year’s edition, which welcomed over 130 attendees, was dedicated to “Delivering #BetterLighting” and facilitated a discussion along the lighting value chain (wholesalers and installers) and with regulators on what each of them can do to deliver the value of lighting. The agenda included a range of presentations and roundtable discussions on topics such as:

  • The non-visual benefits of lighting, particularly within the context of schools
  • What today’s connected, smart world means for electricity distributors in terms of increased demand and flexibility and what lessons the lighting industry can draw
  • How the lighting value chain can collaborate to deliver human-centric lighting
  • The need for market surveillance to ensure safe quality products for users and a level playing field for industry
  • The role of the regulator in developing a #BetterLighting policy framework

All presentations are available for viewing at

LightingEurope is also a supporter of UNESCO’s International Day of Light, a global initiative that provides an annual focal point for the continued appreciation of light and the role it plays in science, culture and art, education, and sustainable development, as well as in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and energy. This year, LightingEurope chose to showcase how light is a synonym for freedom, democracy, the arts, architecture — and life. LightingEurope staff, who are all lighting enthusiasts, posted videos discussing their personal experiences with lighting.

Progress made, but work remains

LightingEurope’s message on the value of lighting is being heard, with the public and policy makers alike grasping the non-visual benefits of light. In fact, according to a 2019 European survey conducted by Repro-Light on lighting in the workplace, 55% of respondents said they would like better lighting. The overwhelming majority of these respondents confirmed that because lighting influences their mood (90%), their vigilance (92%), and their performance (87%), they want lighting that is variable, changes color when it is dark outside, or automatically adapts to personal needs.

These statistics are in line with the clear trend in Europe toward prioritizing the health and wellbeing of people indoors. For example, the revised EU EPBD states that when calculating energy needs, the objective is to optimize health and comfort levels. The introduction of the “smart readiness indicator” is a further incentive to integrate cutting-edge ICT-based solutions that contribute to healthy and comfortable buildings.

The EU’s workplace directive also refers to standards for minimum lighting requirements in the workplace. During its upcoming revision, LightingEurope will be advocating for installing lighting that goes beyond the bare minimum and actually delivers better working environments for the people in them.

Demographic change and an ageing society are additional factors driving policies for using human-centric lighting to create age-friendly adaptive environments. This trend is backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in its 2017 handbook lists lighting among the practical interventions that can enhance quality of life in both outdoor and indoor environments.

Yet despite these positive movements toward better lighting, there’s still much work to be done — a fact made clear during a panel discussion at the European Lighting Summit. During the panel, representatives of wholesalers and electrical installers admitted that they had not heard of human-centric lighting. This lack of awareness underlines how important it is that the entire lighting value chain work together to provide guidance, instructions, and training on delivering better lighting.


As a new set of regulators takes office in Brussels, the heart of EU rule-making, LightingEurope will be briefing the newly elected Members of the European Parliament on the value of lighting and working with industry partners and public authorities to promote simple rules and more enforcement.

Working together within LightingEurope and its member associations across Europe, the SSL industry can harness the potential of electronic technologies to provide society with smart, human-centric lighting — and a better quality of life. Learn how to participate at

LightingEurope sets 2019–2021 priorities

Simple rules: LightingEurope members want simple rules that are easy for industry across the world to understand and to apply, and that market surveillance authorities can easily enforce to swiftly address non-compliance.

Better enforcement: The EU has many rules, and more effort needs to be put into ensuring these rules are enforced by market surveillance authorities in order to ensure safe, quality products for users and a level playing field for the SSL industry.

Value of lighting: LightingEurope continues to pursue the industry’s vision for 2025 to deliver the value of lighting to society, in particular with intelligent lighting systems and human-centric lighting.

Implementing circular economy thinking: LightingEurope continues to support the industry’s application of circular economy thinking and will advocate to decision-makers how these principles should be reflected in rules impacting lighting.

EU legislation impacting lighting: LightingEurope will continue to evaluate and shape regulatory trends and influence EU rules and policies impacting lighting in order to shape a positive business environment in Europe.

Based in Brussels and representing 33 companies and national associations, LightingEurope strives to be the voice of the lighting industry. Together these members account for more than 1000 European companies, a majority of which are small or medium-sized. They represent a total European workforce of more than 100,000 people and an annual turnover exceeding €20 billion ($22B). LightingEurope is committed to promoting efficient lighting that benefits human comfort, safety, and wellbeing, as well as the environment. The organization advocates a positive business and regulatory environment to foster fair competition and growth for the European lighting industry through collaboration.

Get to know our expert

OURANIA GEORGOUTSAKOU is secretary general of LightingEurope, an organization advocating a positive business and regulatory environment to foster fair competition and growth for the European lighting industry. She joined LightingEurope in 2017 from a leadership position within SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International), the global industry organization that focuses on the supply chain in the broad semiconductor industry.