Energy efficient lighting schemes for businesses

There are many steps that a business can take to improve its energy efficiency and lower its energy costs, while reducing its carbon emissions.

These range in complexity from making equipment upgrades and optimizing processes, to  installing building management systems and intelligent controls, or generating energy onsite using a renewable installation, such as solar PV, a wind turbine or biomass boiler.

Lighting costs are a substantial expense for many businesses and in commercial and industrial buildings they can account for around a fifth of the total amount of electricity used. It is therefore an area where both short term and long term benefits can be achieved.

In the past, the most common light fittings used were highly inefficient halogen bulbs and incandescent lighting. However, this type of lighting is now being outlawed in many countries, in favour of more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

LEDs

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have really come into their own in recent years. Replacing halogen bulbs with LEDs has the potential to reduce energy consumption by as much as 85 percent (Carbon Trust) and can be done very easily in many cases. The payback period for such projects is also relatively short, typically being between two to five years.

Retrofitting a property is usually quick and easy to do. However, to achieve the maximum possible benefit a full redesign can be carried out that incorporates intelligent controls and the latest innovations.

But it’s not just energy use and carbon emissions that could be positively impacted upon by making such upgrades. Modern LEDs also provide a high quality of light and offer improved lighting efficacy – light output versus electricity used. Not to mention their longevity, which is greatly extended compared to their inefficient counterparts.

Intelligent lighting controls

Lighting controls can help make a lighting scheme even more energy efficient and impactful. A comprehensive lighting redesign should consider issues of energy efficiency, but also look at how lighting can be used to create a comfortable and productive working environment.

Building regulations increasing call for the adoption of intelligent lighting and environment controls, and any good retrofit proposal should also include recommendations for their use.

When smart lighting controls are combined with LED fittings they can greatly reduce energy use, while providing high quality lighting provision. They can be used in a number of ways, for example to reduce waste by automatically turning off lighting in areas that are not being used.

They can also help to provide the optimal working environment for staff, for example by using daylight harvesting techniques that monitor the level of ambient/natural light in a work space and dim or switch off lighting when sufficient natural light is present (or the space is unoccupied).

Recommendations

What is clear is that lighting upgrades represents an opportunity for businesses. Making lighting upgrades can be a quick win for many, whether it is upgrading light fittings to LEDs, using intelligent lighting controls, introducing an energy management system to make automatic adjustments. Don’t forget to consider how you will encourage behavioural change among employees also, as the more bought in the team is, the more effective your move towards low-carbon technologies and more energy efficient practices will be.