Lighting costs consume a large element of local authority budgets. However, there are many opportunities to make savings which not only reduce costs, but also improve working conditions and staff productivity, says Saima Shafi, Sales and Marketing Director at LED Eco Lights.
Upgrading council offices to LED lighting offers significant financial and physical benefits. There can be solid financial advantages to replacing old lights with newer technologies and in particular, retrofit-capable LED lighting enables local authorities to implement replacement programmes that give a fast return on investment by delivering substantial energy and maintenance savings.
Health and safety compliance is a frequent trigger for a lighting review. Too much or too little light causes eye strain and discomfort. It can be hard to identify and avoid hazards in areas that are underlit or have poor light quality. Bad lighting affects the quality of work and overall productivity. The flicker often generated by fluorescent light sources can induce headaches and migraines and other symptoms associated with Sick Building Syndrome.
Some of the technologies used in older lighting installations have health or safety issues of their own. In particular, tungsten-halogen lamps and high-intensity discharge lamps carry the risk of optical or ultraviolet radiation, which can be harmful if too much enters the eye and affects unprotected skin. Providing more lighting lumens per watt than most other forms of lighting, the most obvious benefit of upgrading to LEDs is the improvement in energy efficiency. This has an immediate impact on monthly electricity spend, with a corresponding reduction in carbon footprint.
In addition, LEDs provide qualitatively better lighting. LED technology provides very directional light that can be focused where it is needed. LEDs are also flicker-free, combating the common problem with fluorescent lighting. High performance LED lighting is very consistent, providing a nice even spread of light, without colour shifting or contrast imbalances.
The result is an immediate improvement in energy and other costs. Ballasts and control gear, which can account for 20% of the energy consumed by some lighting, are eliminated. Retrofit LED lamps from reputable manufacturers come with lengthy guarantees so faulty products are covered for free replacement over two, three and five-year terms. Also, retrofitting is the least disruptive way to upgrade existing lighting. Work can be scheduled around downtimes, evenings and weekends, so that operations can continue as normal.
St Albans City and District Council
The installation of LED ceiling panels from the Goodlight range in the 6,000m² offices at St Albans City and District Council illustrated the significant benefits of retrofit LED technology and demonstrated the Council’s commitment to energy efficiency. Following a successful pilot scheme, a rolling programme commenced to replace the fluorescent lights in the office sections with long-life, energy-efficient LED ceiling panels.
According to Candice Luper, Sustainability Projects Officer at St Albans City and District Council: “The response to the pilot was positive and staff were impressed with the quality of lighting. The old fluorescent lighting, particularly in the winter months, gave poor illumination causing eye strain, whereas the new LED lighting gives an even light distribution throughout the whole office which more closely resembles daytime outdoor light. It has improved working conditions for the staff.”
Goodlight supplied St Albans City and District Council with LED ceiling panels that draw just 28W, giving a direct energy saving of 60%. They are designed to slot into an existing ceiling grid with ease, are guaranteed for five years and have a lifespan of 50,000 hours. Candice Luper explained: “Based on energy savings alone, we have calculated the Council will save just under £16,000 per year in electricity and lighting replacement costs, and therefore achieve full payback in three years. In addition to this, we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 38 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.”
Installation of the LED ceiling panels was carried out over the weekends to limit disruption to the staff. The Council selected 600 by 600mm LED panels in 4,000K, natural white colour temperature. The next phase will be to replace the existing fluorescent lights in the bathrooms, stairways and kitchens to achieve maximum energy saving.