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Would we still need urban street lights if architectural surfaces could emit light with no need of electric power? The luminescent façade frame of the Media-TIC building in Barcelona already suggests the possibility of illuminating cities with smart coatings as a zero-energy, outdoor lighting solution.

Photoluminescent coatings are also referred to as phosphorescent, luminescent, illuminous or luminous paints. I have had the opportunity to try STARGLOW Paints by GLOWTEC, which are manufactured in the UK to comply with all current EU Safety Regulations and are designed to be durable, highly versatile, long-lasting and suitable for most interior and exterior uses. STARGLOW paints are water and weather-proof and can be applied on a variety of substrates such as wood, metal, plastic, paper, fabric and masonry, although it is recommended to use a white, or a light colour as the background for the brightest results. Photoluminescent paints store the light they are exposed to and emit it later, which is visible in the dark. They have an active lifespan of around 20 years, with a minimum active life of 10 years.

If more building exteriors were coated with photoluminescent paints, daylight could be stored and “reused” at night, which would allow cities to save energy generated from fossil fuels and to reduce CO2 emissions as well.

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