SEIZING OPPORTUNITYGlobally, lighting accounts for about 15 per cent of all electricity consumption, which we project to decline to 8 per cent in 2030. Harnessing the potential of smart buildings – homes, industry and offices – is also smart public policy. Doubling the rate of energy efficient gains would create a hydra-headed stimulus for economic and social development. Benefits include creating six million new jobs and cutting annual energy costs by €2,300 billion by 2030. At COP22, world leaders are tasked with finding concrete next steps. Our best hope is for a mix of carrot-and-stick measures with particular emphasis on policy and financing. Next to bold targets on energy efficiency, equivalent at least to an annual improvement of 3 per cent, we urgently need more ambition to drive renovation in buildings. The current renovation rate for buildings stands at about 1.2 per cent, far short of what is required. Accelerated renovation, lifting the rate to around 3 per cent per year, will be a key factor for success. Obviously, this requires enabling policies in building codes and performance-based procurement, as well as fiscal measures.Research by Architecture 2030, a campaigning consultancy, shows that by regulating for renovation of commercial buildings at the point of every change in ownership, we could double current rates of renovation to 3 per cent per year. Let us explore this avenue and make it happen. I see only benefits for owners and real estate (more valuable future-proof buildings) and for occupants (more comfortable places to live and work), and a shift from operational (energy) expenses to slight rent increases, that is cost neutral overall.On financing, we essentially need to leverage the lower cost over lifetime of the building to take away the renovation budget hurdle. It is amazing to hear from cities and companies that they have projects but no money, and from banks that they have money but no projects. In other words, if we want to finance change, we need to change finance.Here we are greatly helped by the fact that LED lighting is getting smart and connected, as it allows us to move to new business models. Instead of invoicing boxes with lamps, we can now lease lighting as a service in larger projects. And I believe LED lighting is just one part of the broad transition to more circular more economical business models. In this sense, energy efficiency is not just our business. It is everybody’s business. A transition to LED would save some €272 billion in energy costs, equivalent to a reduction of 1,400 megatones in carbon emissions or shutting down 1250 power plants. At household level, energy bills would fall by one-third. This is possible now. A new world order of low-carbon growth. An opportunity – for people, and planet – that we cannot afford to miss. ■ABOUT THE AUTHOR Harry Verhaar is Head of Global Public and Government Affairs at Philips LightingABOUT PHILIPS LIGHTINGPhilips Lighting (Euronext Amsterdam ticker: LIGHT), a global leader in lighting products, systems and services, delivers innovations that unlock business value, deliver rich user experiences and help improve lives. Serving professional and consumer markets, we lead the industry in connected lighting systems and services, leveraging the Internet of Things to transform homes, buildings and urban spaces. With 2015 sales of €7.5 billion, we have approximately 36,000 employees in over 70 countries. News from Philips Lighting is located at http://www.newsroom.Pictured: Harry Verhaarlighting.philips.comRight: Spanish landmarks sparkle with cloud-based Philips connected lighting systems Top left: Under-15 boys lead the fight against light poverty in MathareBelow left: Light as a service – around the clock.