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Path to enlightenment

Author : Rob Shepherd

17 February 2012

The 'warm and modern' lighting at River Island - see Appendix 2 below
The 'warm and modern' lighting at River Island - see Appendix 2 below

With utility bills rising amidst growing pressure for companies to reduce their carbon footprints, facilities managers are paying lighting and how it is used more attention than ever before. Rob Shepherd examines how the latest lighting technology can save time, money and energy.

Lighting accounts for one sixth of the UK’s total electricity usage and in commercial buildings and offices it accounts for around 43 per cent. This means that facilities managers are under increasing pressure to reduce expenditure on this part of a building’s infrastructure in order to save money and meet onerous energy reduction targets.

Rate of change

Over the last 10 years lighting technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate. The lighting industry has recognised the requirement for increased efficiency and has spearheaded the development of new products that will help achieve the government’s energy reduction targets.

With growing awareness of the need to reduce CO2 and use energy more wisely, the last few years has witnessed the gradual phasing out of incandescent light bulbs. They have been replaced by compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which are used in modern buildings alongside linear fluorescent tubes and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. However, a more radical change is occurring as a result of the growing availability of light emitting diode (LED) based technology.

Assessing the impact of LEDs, John Gorse, Philips Lighting’s technical manager, commented: “Understanding the changes that are being brought about by the move to LED light sources means that the entire value chain now has to engage with a re-education on the basics of light generation and application. It is absolutely clear that the industry is undergoing a seismic change not seen since gas lamp manufacturers witnessed the introduction of the carbon filament lamp.”

The plus side

Aside from low energy, there are a number of operational and environmental benefits of using LED based luminaires. Their extraordinarily long life means they need zero maintenance with no light source replacement. In addition, they emit neither UV nor IR radiation and contain no mercury, making compliance with legislation such as the Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive far easier.

LED lighting gives excellent lumen output while major advances have been made with LED lamps, downlights and, more recently, with modular recessed and industrial fittings.

However, there is still considerable confusion surrounding the benefits of this technology. Thorn Lighting’s marketing director, Kelly Herrick, warned: “There has been so much furore about LEDs that conflicting messages are being communicated, doubtful promises are being made and everyone is waiting to see who is right.”

While the market is experiencing an influx of innovative LED based lighting solutions from a myriad of different manufacturers, not all LED based solutions are the same. Abacus Lighting’s product manager, Leighton James, commented: “I think that the benefits of LED technology are getting across but this process is hindered by the number of low-quality, poorly performing products currently available.”

On the market

LED lighting solutions come in a variety of forms. For example, Collingwood Lighting has introduced strip LED products that can be quickly installed and are sold in pre-cut lengths. They offer a flexible solution for all sorts of installations – from small-scale applications where only a few LEDs are needed, to larger features where a continuous strip is required over an extended distance.

Manufacturers are developing LED based solutions that can replace older technologies. The DL11 LED downlight from Cooper Lighting and Safety has been designed as a direct replacement for tungsten halogen dichroic downlights. As well as offering a 70 per cent energy saving, it also provides a long life of 50,000 hours, which dramatically reduces maintenance costs by eliminating the need for regular lamp changes.

LEDs are also being introduced into emergency lighting systems. Hochiki Europe’s FIREscape emergency lighting system is an intelligent low voltage system that uses LED technology to provide a unique, highly cost effective and energy efficient solution which is ideal for those looking to reduce expenditure within their buildings and keep operating costs to a minimum.

Cost effective

While the prevailing economic conditions may make it difficult to justify ‘ripping and replacing’ existing lighting solutions with LEDs, solutions are available which can lower energy use without a massive capital outlay.

Mike Barrett, commercial director UK & Nordic for GE Lighting, explained: “The days of replacing entire lighting schemes to introduce a low energy lighting solution are long gone. Today, a whole host of retrofit lighting exists that can offer the same quality of light but significantly lower energy costs. The added advantage is that by utilising technology now facilities managers can future proof a lighting installation and minimise costs in the long-term.”

John Gorse of Philips Lighting added: “We recognise that many of the LED solutions we currently offer are, at face value or more importantly at capital investment level, at a higher cost than budgets may allow for. It is therefore imperative that we offer total cost of ownership based solutions that offer long-term value.”

Life cycle

Energy performance and management is being tackled head on and Part L of the Building Regulations is in place to implement the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. The EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) contains a range of provisions aimed at improving energy performance, taking into account the building type, climate and cost effectiveness.

Manufacturers are also taking the issue seriously and products are now available which tackle this issue head on. For instance, Tridonic’s basicDIM RCL is a networked lighting management system for control in single rooms that can achieve energy savings of up to 80 per cent, while Venture Lighting’s Ventronic Global electronic dimming ballast combines maximum energy savings with total system control, using DALI digital dimming, simple switch dimming or 1-10V variable dimming. The ballast has low energy consumption and facilitates a 70 per cent total energy cost saving.

Command and control

When it comes to energy wastage, it only takes a drive around any commercial district to spot the main offenders – the offices and industrial units left with lights blazing, often as a ‘security measure’. It is estimated that around a third of the energy consumed for lighting in commercial buildings could be saved by utilising technology that automatically turns off the lights when space is unoccupied. By applying a range of control and monitoring initiatives building services can operate in strict accordance with demand, thereby avoiding unnecessary use of energy.

It has been suggested that the only way to encourage a more responsible use of energy is to make lighting control compulsory. John Forsyth, general manager of Ex-Or, is an advocate of this measure. He commented: “A minimum of 30 per cent of the energy consumption accounted for by lighting in industrial and commercial buildings could be saved using existing control technology that automatically turns off the lights when space is unoccupied. Automatic lighting control using proven technology has an immediate effect on CO2 emission reduction.”

One step further

For organisations demanding greater visibility and control of their energy use a solution can be found in a building energy management system (BEMS). A BEMS regulates and monitors heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting, and can control up to 84 per cent per cent of a building’s energy usage. Software based tools provide the ability to extrapolate and analyse energy usage patterns in detail across an entire building and instigate changes where necessary.

Trend Controls’ strategic marketing manager, Chris Monson, believes that having a holistic approach to energy use is the best way to make savings. He said: “These systems are at the forefront of the drive towards carbon reduction by making sure that building services operate in strict accordance with demand, thereby avoiding unnecessary use of energy.”

Standard bearer

The day when lighting controls are the rule rather than the exception is set to move a step closer with the publication of BS EN 12464-1: 2011, the revised European standard for lighting indoor workplaces.

The standard addresses the design and development of lighting schemes around a specific task or activity. BS EN 12464-1: 2011 encourages designers to consider all available forms of lighting, including daylight, and also look at how wall and ceiling colours can be used to increase a room’s brightness. It also provides guidelines about the use of lighting controls and recommends ways to illuminate rooms only when they are in use.

The use of lighting controls also ensures compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations and enables a building to demonstrate higher ratings in the Energy Performance and Display Energy Performance Certificates (EPC and DEC) it is obliged to display.

A bright future

It is clear that a much tougher line is being taken to encourage businesses to reduce their use of energy and unless there is a decrease in the overall levels of CO2 being produced there will be more regulation to come. For facilities managers now is the time to do something about it by introducing more efficient light sources and implementing systems that use energy in the most efficient manner possible.

Rob Shepherd is a freelance journalist who has worked in the electrical contracting industry for over 12 years.

Appendix 1

Light work

Simply installing the latest lighting technology should not be at the expense of good design. Consider the following points when looking at a building’s lighting requirements:

• Identify and understand the lighting standards and the conditions required to get the most out of a lighting scheme.

• When it comes to lighting equipment, consider what is the best combination of products.

• Utilise the best type of lighting for the environment and consider whether daylight be used.

• Examine whether lighting control can be used to save energy and money.

• Investigate whether modern wiring methods will provide savings in time, cost and labour.

• Identify how the efficiency and effectiveness of lighting can be maintained.


Appendix 2

Trend setter


Leading high street fashion retailer, River Island, has chosen Megaman’s LED AR111 and Crown Silver lamps at the company’s London headquarters. The London office complex has recently gone through redevelopment with old warehouse areas being made into additional offices and refurbishment of existing office space.

With excellent light output and energy saving, the lamps, along with the aesthetically designed luminaires, provide a warm but modern welcome throughout the reception, corridors, stairwells and office areas.

Offering 50,000 hours life, Megaman’s AR111 LED lamps use the company’s patented Thermal Conductive Highway (TCH) technology. They offer a direct replacement for halogen spots in terms of both colour temperature and intensity whilst providing energy saving of up to 80 per cent.

Following installation of the Megaman lamps at River Island, an energy saving of 25,584kW has been calculated, which is the equivalent of 13,918kg of CO2.



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