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West Sussex County Council extends low-energy lighting roll-out

25 January 2013

Following the second phase of a hugely-successful, council-wide programme to cut carbon, West Sussex County Council has now upgraded the lighting at more than 50 of its properties, replacing outdated fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient equivalents using the retrofit converter device, ‘Save It Easy®’ from Energys Group.

With hard work and the aid of some clever technology, West Sussex County Council is setting the standard in carbon reduction. Faced with in-house CO2 targets to meet and a new financial burden under the Carbon Reduction Commitment, the Council sprang into action three years ago to begin reducing its carbon footprint.

Its newly-created Carbon Management Team was charged with seeking out ways of cutting carbon and, in a short space of time, it has already achieved incredible results.

Targeting energy waste
Right from the start, the Council identified lighting as a key source of energy waste. The old-style fluorescent lamps that were in use across the majority of Council buildings were driving up CO2 emissions. However, the Carbon Management Team felt that it would be uneconomical and wasteful to rip out and remove all of the existing light fittings, in order to make way for the new T5 lamps, which crucially differ in size and technical specification from the old lamps. A retrofit solution was in order.

“We needed a lighting solution that could allow the new, energy-efficient fluorescent lamps to be slotted into the existing fittings,” comments Nicola Winser, Carbon Management Officer at West Sussex County Council. “The plug-in T5 adapter Save It Easy seemed to fit the bill. We carried out extensive trials of Save It Easy, which was enough to convince our senior management and maintenance teams that a retrofit solution was the right one for the Council.”

Council-wide roll-out
Following the trials, West Sussex undertook the first phase of the lighting upgrade, netting savings of 29 tonnes of CO2 by installing 1,016 Save It Easy units at its County Hall headquarters in Chichester. Building on this success, the second phase of the council-wide roll-out is now underway. Low-energy fluorescent lamps have now been retrofit-installed, using Save It Easy, in 55 of its buildings, with plans to install the technology at a further 16 sites, bringing the total to 74.

“We’ve installed more than 12,000 energy-efficient T5 lamps using Save It Easy,” says Ms Winser. “Lighting upgrades have been made across all suitable West Sussex’s fire stations, libraries, care homes and day centres for vulnerable adults and children, as well as at the Council’s main administrative sites in Chichester, Worthing and Bognor Regis. It’s been a huge undertaking, but Save It Easy has proved itself as a reliable technology – one that is making a real difference to the Council’s carbon footprint.”

Government-backed funding
The project was funded through the government-backed Salix initiative, which provides interest-free loans to public sector organisations making energy-efficiency upgrades. Due to the instant savings on energy bills that have been unlocked by energy efficient projects including the lighting upgrades, the Council has been able to establish a revolving fund, which has been used to greenlight further carbon-reduction projects. In order to maximise the funding available, the Council also applied for Salix Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme (SEELS) funding for two of the largest T5 lighting projects.

“It was simple to take advantage of the SEELSfunding pot,” comments Ms Winser. “Salix approved our funding application straight away, with no questions asked, because they are very happy that Save It Easy meets all of their carbon-reduction and cost-effectiveness criteria.”

No hassle
With West Sussex’s council-wide lighting upgrade now 75% complete, the T5 converters have been in place at most Council locations long enough to get a sense of their long-term resilience.

Ms Winser comments, “With such a large roll-out of one particular technology, there’s always a worry that the product will fail and the supplier won’t want to know. But, on the contrary, we have received great customer care from Energys.”

“The Energys engineers were always willing to speak to the facilities teams about Save It Easy at any point,” she continues. “And the warranty from Energys has provided real peace of mind for us. There has been a low percentage of failures with Save It Easy, but if something does go wrong, Energys has been quick to respond ensuring the lights remain on, with no hassle or extra cost involved.”

Energy savings
The installation part of the project has already proved a success, and the resulting energy savings are now beginning to stack up. According to the Council’s own savings figures, the new lighting will reduce the energy consumption for its corporate estate by a staggering 722,626 kWh. This translates to a financial saving of £78,745 every year.

The Council will also save 389 tonnes of CO2 every year as a result of its lighting upgrades. This has helped exceed its annual carbon-saving targets of 1597 tCO2 in 2011/12 and 320 tCO2 in 2012/13. This is a triumph that will also ensure that West Sussex has a lower burden under the Carbon Reduction Commitment.

By mobilising finance through the Salix fund and tackling sources of energy waste like old-style fluorescent lighting on a massive scale, West Sussex County Council has been able to make dramatic strides in cutting its carbon emissions.

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