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A Brighter Future

15 June 2007

First Australia and now the EU will ban incandescent bulbs within a couple of years first in homes and then in businesses. Oliver Wong explains how FM’s can plan to make the switch while maintaining effective workplace and display lighting schemes.

BUILDINGS ACCOUNT FOR 40 PER CENT OF THE ENERGY requirements and offer the largest single potential for energy efficiency gains. More than one-fifth of the present energy consumption could be saved by 2010 by applying more stretching targets to new and refurbished buildings and lighting offers one of the quickest and easiest ways to meeting them.

However, there is a huge number of different lamp sources and luminaires in use in all kind of commercial and public sector properties, and this presents FMs with major issues, particularly what to replace existing lighting with which will work and give the same effect. The fear is that businesses will be tempted to change too soon to inappropriate energy efficient options and spoil the lighting value of the systems currently installed rather than study all the options available now and in the near future. However, this need not be the case if in some way this process could be simplified while providing the benefits of greater energy efficiency and reduced costs without compromising the light quality and lifetime expectations.

Fortunately this ideal situation is in fact a reality. Philips has for some time developed its ‘Value Added’ approach, segmenting its own product portfolio directly to these needs by categorising its ranges into MASTER and Standard. For FMs looking for the best in class light characteristics, best in class in energy efficiency and superior lifetime reliability, the Philips MASTER Collection offers the ideal solution. Supporting this approach is a simple ‘Cost of Ownership’ calculation formula that has been devised providing lighting equipment users with an easy to use tool to check savings that can be achieved by upgrading to a more energy and labour efficient lamp. Armed with this information selecting the correct lamp for the job becomes a much easier process.

The opportunities for energy savings from lighting improvements are potentially huge. Recent research has revealed that more than 75 per cent of Europe’s office lighting is based on outdated and energy inefficient lighting systems which do not comply with EU quality standards for offices. This equates to 8m/tonnes of CO2 which is about the annual output of 10 power stations producing 2 TWh/yr. Switching from older fluorescent lighting to a new generation of lighting technology involves initial investment costs. Short-term thinking creates a tendency to look mainly at the initial cost of a lamp or lighting system. This ignores the more relevant cost of energy during the product’s use which is often more than 90 per cent of the total cost.

Once the decision has been made to upgrade the lighting in a medium sized office, the additional investment of installing the latest lighting technology compared with replacing the older technology would provide a payback of just over three years, and the energy savings would be more than €70,000 during the first 10 years. The primary savings can be made by upgrading lighting systems from fittings with EM ballasts and standard TL fluorescent lamps to fittings with HF ballasts and a new generation of 1990’s based TL5 fluorescent lamps with their higher quality light. Higher levels of light also allow better spacing of light fittings meaning fewer are needed per office. Energy savings of 30 per cent are easily achievable and these savings start immediately after installation.

Additional savings can be achieved by installing modern lighting control systems. These include presence detectors which automatically turn of or reduce lighting levels when none is present and daylight linking controls which reduce the lighting levels when more natural daylight is present. For example, the new ActiLume control system can save up75 per cent of the energy consumed by older fluorescent lighting systems. Since ActiLume is part of the fitting, one simple touch of a button suffices.

Another example is the LightMaster Modular (LMM) lighting management system. It has similar features as ActiLume but adds energy management and automated safety testing facilities. LMM is part of the electrical installation and a basic LMM system does not cost more than a conventional installation with payback times of less than a year possible.

These may be more sophisticated solutions but simple switches can also be gained by using energy saving alternatives to replace the humble incandescent lamp. New ranges of miniaturised CFL lamps are available for professional applications and include a 5W Softone energy saver candle and an 8W standard shape Softone energy saver designed to fit in luminaires which traditionally could only take incandescent lamps. Energy savings of up 80 per cent can be expected and they last between 6 and 15 times longer than traditional GLS bulbs reducing expensive relamping maintenance costs and the inconvenience of failed lamps.

Even the popular low voltage halogen dichroic lamps can be substituted with energy saving alternatives. For example when comparing MASTER Line ES with standard low- voltage dichroics, the savings speak for themselves. Not only can up to 40 per cent savings on electricity costs be achieved but also this can impact on air conditioning running costs as well since there is up to 40 per cent less heat generated. In addition, because MASTER Line ES has 66 per cent longer life, the hassle factor and cost of maintenance is reduced.

New and emerging technologies such as LEDs are also now being introduced into commercial applications. Offices are already seeing the first niche LED applications in desk lights and emergency lighting. However, as replacements for conventional general lighting LEDs are still some years off because the cost/lumen ratio is still too high. Performance will have to improve (at least >80 lm/w at a system level) to compete.

Nonetheless, the opportunities for LEDs to add new lighting in offices is significant. We will see LEDs being integrated into ceilings, wall panels and floor tiles lighting up hallways. Within the next few years we should see the first effective LED solutions in specialised areas of the office, in receptions, restaurants and visitor areas where more decorative effects are required. These will be typically high end and prestige type projects. Within three to five years the first solutions should become available which can compete with compact fluorescent technology on a total cost of ownership criteria. Within five to 10 years LEDs should become a viable alternative for FMs for general lighting solutions. We are probably at least a decade away from offering a clear choice of LED lighting to replace existing technologies. However, LEDs will allow us to create lighting solutions in places and in ways, which were never possible and make a big impact on energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
● Oliver Wong is Segment Marketing Manager for Office and Industry at Philips

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