Precious lights

Lighting, leisure and the International Year of Light

By Janice Blondeau

Next time you visit a museum, enjoy a live cultural performance or support your favourite sports team at their stadium, spare a thought for the light and lighting that helped make these activities so enjoyable, and for the International Year of Light.

Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections

The global initiative, International Year of Light, is highlighting to the citizens of the world the importance of light and optical technologies in their lives, for their futures and for sustainable development. The IEC is delighted to be associated with the International Year of Light (IYL2015), adopted by the United Nations under the patronage of UNESCO.

Lighting up sporting events

Experiencing a major sporting event live is unique. Advances in lighting have made it possible to hold sporting events both indoors and at night. The most common floodlights used as primary lighting in stadiums are HID (high intensity discharge) lamps such as metal halides, which can pack a lot of lumens into a small package. Advances in LED (light-emitting diode) technology mean that LED floodlights are now bright enough to be used for illumination purposes on large sports fields. They can be switched on and off instantly, requiring no warm-up period.

IEC Technical Committee (TC) 34: Lamps and related equipment, and its Subcommittees (SCs) prepare International Standards for all types of lamps and luminaires used in sports venues. (Read Lights, sensors, game on! in e-tech December 2014)

Museums and exhibitions

Visiting a museum is a visual experience. Light is a key factor that contributes to creating the right atmosphere and showcasing the artefacts.

“Ultimately, a visit to a Museum is lasting in our memory thanks to lighting. An artefact that is set in the right ambiance and accentuated with precise lighting brings an enduring image to our brains that lasts for a long time,” says Víctor Palacio, President Elect of the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD). (Read Palacio’s International Year of light blog post Museum and Exhibition Lighting.)

Architecture and Light Art

Architectural lighting design is a new discipline that brings together architecture, interior design and electrical engineering, to create lighting systems that combine natural and electric light. The illumination of buildings or spaces relies on three fundamental aspects: aesthetic appeal, ergonomics and energy efficiency.

One step further is Light Art, which is emerging as a popular International movement though exhibition spaces at festivals. This has grown especially with the outdoor LED low energy developments. Festivals such as the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) in Lyon and Vivid Sydney in Australia are two renowned examples of what can be created when light meets arts.

IEC activity

A number of IEC TCs and SCs prepare International Standards for components and systems in the fields of lighting and sensors that help make these leisure activities possible.

The TC primarily responsible for drawing up International Standards for lighting is IEC TC 34: Lamps and related equipment. TC 34 includes four SCs which prepare international standards for specific fields: IEC SC 34A: Lamps including LEDs, OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) and glow starters, has published over 130 Standards covering, among other things, metal halide lamps and LED lamps; IEC SC 34B: Lamp caps and holders; IEC SC 34C: lamp controlgear, with the focus on controlgear standards for metal halide lamps (square wave operation), fluorescent lamps and LED modules; and IEC SC 34D: luminaires.

IEC TC 47: Semiconductor devices, includes sensors in a number of its publications and IEC SC 47E: Discrete semiconductor devices, prepares International Standards for components used in a variety of sensors.

The scope of IEC TC 76: Optical radiation safety and laser equipment, is to prepare International Standards for equipment incorporating lasers and LEDs.

There is also considerable work carried out in the field of fibre optics through IEC TC 86: Fibre optics, established in 1984, and its Subcommittees. They are central to the development of the entire sector and all related industries.

In addition, the IEC Conformity Assessment Systems help ensure that the products we buy and use have the required safety levels.

About the International Year of Light

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. For more information:

In support of Internation Year of Light Logo The International Year of Light is a United Nations initiative under the patronage of UNESCO
Show lights Concerts and musical performances without light shows are inconceivable today
Vivid Sydney Vivid Sydney is an annual outdoor lighting festival with immersive light installations and projections