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Lighting the Way

18 September 2009

Low-carbon refurbishment can deliver increased sustainability without excessive capital expenditure and disruption. Significant savings can be made by installing relatively simple solutions

THE UK HAS A HUGE STOCK of existing buildings, many of which were constructed decades ago with no regard for energy efficiency measures that lower fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions. Energy-inefficiency is no longer considered acceptable, and FMs are increasingly looking for practical, affordable solutions to reduce energy use in their portfolios of buildings.
The most effective green solutions are often overlooked. Switching to energy-efficient lighting and ensuring the building’s fabric is thoroughly insulated are the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and they can produce some of the most substantial savings on electricity and heating bills. The Carbon Trust estimates that approximately 25 percent of a building's heat can escape through an uninsulated roof. Rock mineral wool, expanded polystyrene, as well as natural materials like sheep’s wool, can provide sizeable insulation against heat loss.
Double- or triple-glazing also stops heat (and money) pouring out through a building’s fabric. Low emmisivity (Low-E) glass also bounces heat back into a room. The UK is often cold and rainy, but in the summer months huge sums are paid out in an attempt to keep buildings cool. Integrated blinds can cut airconditioning energy use through the ventilation and cooling benefits that they provide.
Lighting is often viewed as a fixed cost, yet it is far from a nominal outlay. The Carbon Trust reports that most organisations find that 20–40 percent of their electricity costs come from lighting, mainly from the use of fluorescent tube. However, new energy-efficient lighting technology can more than halve lighting energy consumption. Due to the physical and technical differences between the old, energyinefficient T8 and T12 lamps and the new, superior T5 Triphosphor High frequency lamps, installation of energy-efficient lighting has meant completely replacing the light fittings.
For large commercial or industrial premises, complete lighting overhaul meant huge amounts of plastic and metal sent to landfill, and energy is consumed in the manufacture and transportation of replacement light fittings. Now a building’s lighting system can be more simply retrofitted using a technology that renders the existing light fittings useable with the new lamps.
The ‘Save It Easy®’ retrofit eballast, offered by Energys Ltd, allows conversion of existing light fittings of all sizes, providing lighting energy savings of up to 65 percent. The old-style quadruple T8 tubes can also be retrofitted using Energys’s new QED (Quad Energy-saving Depopulation) Retrofit Conversion, which transforms modular 2ft (600x600mm) luminaires to two tube T5 operation. The lumen output of conventional alophosphate tubes declines by some 30–35 percent over 10,000 to 12,000 hours, whereas quality T5 triphosphor tubes maintain 95 percent lumen output for over 20,000 hours. A retrofit exploits the combined higher lumen output and non-fade qualities of T5 triphosphor lamps, in order to halve the number of tubes needed.
Energys has increasingly found that there is no singular model when it comes to management of Save It Easy projects. Save It Easy conversion management and funding varies with project size, but it has certain common components. Any large or small Energys project is now almost invariably preceded by a savings and payback calculation, carried out free of charge on the basis of data supplied either by the client organisation or by its adviser or contractor. On larger programmes before full-scale conversion is carried out, the initial assessment is still usually followed by a limited-size trial installation to prove performance in the particular application.
Re-lamping can be slowly and progressively carried out only as individual lamps fail – though the postponement involved can lose the client substantial savings that could have been made during the period of delay. To enable companies short on investment capital to begin making immediate savings, Energys offers a ‘Budget from Savings’ operating lease, designed to show environmental benefit and client profit from the outset. The client pays a quarterly charge for a minimum commitment period – usually from three to five years – which can include maintenance for a fullymanaged service. At the end of the initial committed rental period (or, if appropriate, before then) by entering into a new rental agreement, the client can refresh the system elements with the latest technology then available, to maximise the ongoing energy savings. Conversely, if the existing products are still suitable, the rental can be continued at a reduced ‘fair market value’ payment.
Government-funded loans schemes available to install energy-efficient lighting and carry out other green refurbishment works include the Carbon Trust Interest Free Loans Scheme and Energy Saving Scotland loans for SMEs. The Salix scheme also supports energy-efficiency improvements for public sector bodies.


  • Lancastrian NHS Trust, Calderstones carried out an initial trial of converting 300 fluorescent lamps to energy-efficient equivalents using the Save It Easy technology. The trial was such a success that the Trust was able to secure funding for a hospital-wide installation of a further 2,000 low-energy lamps.. An annual costsaving of £9,706 and annual CO2 emissions savings of 41 tonnes have been made, although this is difficult to see in practice due to natural load growth. The lifetime savings of the installation total an impressive £105,364 – or 790 tonnes of CO2.
  • Similar installations at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Surrey County Hospital are set to produce total projected savings of £567,383 and £399,764, respectively.
  • Devon and Cornwall Police Constabulary is in the process of retrofitting its lighting using Save It Easy, with installations already underway in Barnstaple, Sidmouth, Camborne, Bideford and Ilfracombe. Typically Barnstaple Police Station replaced 560 lamps and will achieve savings of £45,136 over the project’s lifetime, with a 287- tonne CO2 reduction.
  • As part of a Salix/Learning and Skills Council programme to improve energy efficiency in schools overseen by Mouchel FM, more than 70,000 Save It Easy units have been installed in colleges of Further Education across Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire. This includes Westfield College, which undertook refurbishment works, using Save It Easy to switch 1,000 fluorescent lamps for energyefficient tubes. The college has cut its annual electricity consumption by an estimated 84,000 kWh, with CO2 savings of 36 tonnes per year.
  • Speedibake (part of Associated British Foods), which bakes doughnuts and bread, used Save It Easy to install energy-efficient lighting at its Wakefield factory. The switch to energy-efficient lighting for Speedibake not only saved money, it also boosted light quality from about 300 lux to 410 lux from the new, energy-efficient 50W tubes enabling Speedibake to halve the number of lights in use. Speedibake has elected to adopt a gradual roll-out refurbishment over the next few years – buying 20, 40, 60 Save It Easy fittings at a time.

More info

Carbon Trust Interest Free Loans Scheme

Salix Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (funding for public sector)

Energy Saving Scotland Small Business Loans

Royal Surrey Hospital RetrofitLighting Case Study

Companies House Cardiff Retrofit Lighting Case Study

Westfield College Retrofit Lighting Case Study

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