New Lamps for Old, or the Joy of the Circular Economy

Gérard Lesage - General Manager - Comatelec Schréder
Gérard Lesage
General Manager - Comatelec Schréder

At Schréder, we’ve been lighting cities for over a century, so we’ve seen plenty of trends come and go. Innovation never goes out of style, but increasingly our customers want to keep existing lighting systems in place - not just because they’re an established part of the city’s look and feel, but also because of the circular economy. This may be a buzzword now, but it reflects what we’ve been doing for a long time.

Schréder preserves heirloom lanterns by integrated state-of-the-art-LED technology so cities can preserve heritage with a circular economy

One way in which cities can consume less is to upgrade their lighting - but not their light fittings. That’s what we did in the Southern French city of Toulouse, also known as La Ville Rose due to the dusty pink of its terracotta bricks. Unfortunately, the old lighting system turned the city a brash orange after dark. Place du Capitole, Toulouse’s impressive main square, houses City Hall and the National Theatre. While the traditional lanterns which adorn it were beautiful, the outdated sodium lamps inside them weren’t. We switched them to warm white LEDs for a safe and welcoming atmosphere, reducing energy consumption by almost 50%. 

What Goes Around Comes Around

Updating lighting systems while keeping existing lanterns has multiple advantages. It saves energy, keeps heirloom pieces that bring character to urban spaces, and reduces both the volume of materials needed for a relighting scheme and fitting time. It can also help cities achieve goals, like Paris’ target of reducing energy consumption of public lighting and traffic light networks by 30% by the end of 2020. 

To mark the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference, we partnered with the city of lights to renovate several iconic streets, replacing light sources in 19th-century cast iron lanterns to continue a circular economy loop that spans three centuries. 

On Place Vendôme, home to the Ritz and legendary jewellery marques, we kept 228 traditional lanterns by replacing the sodium lights with modern LEDs, and also showcased the mansions that frame the square by illuminating their façades. The elegant arches of these majestic houses are bathed in gentle white light, producing energy savings without compromising on the square’s sophisticated look.

Schréder LED optics were put in the original lanterns on Rue de Rivoli in Paris to promote a circular economy

Round the corner on Rue de Rivoli, we retrofitted 640 luminaires, reducing CO2 emissions by 26 tons and cutting the energy bill by an incredible 84%. These are some of the most famous shopping streets in the world, so preserving the aesthetic was crucial - and the millions of photos shared on social media of the area speak for themselves.

A Circular Tomorrow, Today

Retro-fitting existing luminaires is something we’re passionate about, but most of our work is installing new lighting systems. We apply the same mindset here: for years we have developed our products to be FutureProof. This isn’t just a buzzword. It means the photometrical and electronic units can be replaced while keeping everything else in place, to keep pace with the constant improvements in LED technology. We have also developed a new circular retrofit kit to Repair, Refurbish, Reuse and Recycle our luminaires.
The next stage in our dedication to the circular economy is the FLEXIA luminaire. This urban platform is a timeless design which works well everywhere. Designed to put city-dwellers at ease, it incorporates our FlexiWhite solution so light levels can be optimised for different settings and seasons. It has impeccable circular economy credentials, with long-life components, recyclable materials and low energy usage. It’s smart city ready, and unlike other similar products, it can be endlessly customised with a wide range of accessories.
Facing up to environmental challenges is going to need a whole change in attitude. We must reduce our use of raw materials, reuse more, fix and upgrade, ultimately recycle and above all think intelligently about our use of energy and resources.

Get in touch to see how we can use our decades of experience doing just this to make your city rotate with the circular economy.

About the writer
Gérard is the Managing Director of Comatelec Schréder. our company in France. He has worked with cities for all of his professional career. With his vast experience and industry knowledge, he helps to deliver the best lighting solutions to our customers. An active member of the AFE (French Lighting Association), he is constantly establishing valuable relationships to accelerate general industry knowledge on sustainable and efficient lighting technologies.

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