Signify (Euronext: LIGHT), the world leader in lighting, today completed the world’s first bat-friendly lighting installation in a town. Rare bats in Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, in the Netherlands, can now go about their nocturnal business undisturbed thanks to new connected LED street lights designed specially to emit light that does not affect their natural senses and rhythms. The street lights use a special light recipe that is perceived by bats as complete darkness, yet which provides enough illumination for residents – helping make the roads and pavements safer, while being highly energy efficient and mitigating the impact on the bat population. The project is the next step from Signify’s in developing innovative LED technology that is both smart, and supports conservation and sustainability.

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop – the bat-friendly town

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop is home to many rare and vulnerable animal and plant species. The town and its surrounding area is part of the Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas across Europe comprised of breeding and nesting sites for rare and threatened species. In 2011, Nieuwkoop embarked upon an initiative to build 89 new houses that meet the world’s highest sustainability standards. The innovative, new, bat-friendly street lighting was a response to research into the flora and fauna in the area that revealed the site to be an important feeding ground for some rare bat species.

Guus Elkhuizen, City Council Member in the Nieuwkoop municipality, said: “Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.“

So as not to disturb the nocturnal feeding and nighttime activity of the bats, a special light recipe was developed that involved extensive research by Signify, the University of Wageningen and additional NGO’s active in this field of conservation. The lights emit a red color, and used a wavelength that doesn’t interfere with a bat’s internal compass. Normal street lights can affect a bat’s flight patterns and overall night time behavior, as well as the activity of their main insect prey which tend to congregate around the lights.

Saving wildlife, and energy

To further optimize light levels, the municipality installed Signify’s connected LED lighting system and management software – Interact City. This lighting system enables close to real-time, remote management of light points across a town or city that can provide energy savings of up to 70% (compared to conventional High Pressure Sodium (HPS) street lighting). By being connected, the system allows each light point to be controlled remotely, allowing authorities to respond to a request from a resident to turn up or lower the brightness of the lighting outside their home, or to quickly raise the light levels in an area to aid emergency services. And when the streets are empty late at night, the authorities can dim the lights to cut unnecessary energy use.

Signify became the new company name of Philips Lighting as of May 16, 2018.

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