The Retrofitting Revolution

With businesses under pressure to reduce operational costs in the face of the on-going energy crisis, Colin Lawson, Head of Market Intelligence at Tamlite Lighting says small changes can make a big difference with retrofitting the key to success.

There is no getting away from the on-going energy crisis. Rising wholesale prices, gas shortages, and energy suppliers ceasing to trade have all played a role in creating a perfect storm. Sadly, there is no end in sight with energy bills predicted to remain high for months to come.

If you believe the pessimists, the impact could be felt for the next 18 months to two years. Indeed, the latest research from the International Energy Agency (IEA), suggests that a global surge in demand for energy could spark another three years of market volatility1. It is causing businesses, and those responsible for the management and operation of buildings, a huge headache.

Of course, the energy crisis is taking place against the need to decarbonise the built environment. It has become clear that urgent action needs to be taken in this area, with the findings of the Met Office annual CO2 forecast stating that the rate at which carbon emissions are added to the atmosphere needs to come to a rapid and complete stop if the world is to meet its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C2.

The built environment is a major contributor to climate change accounting for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions3. Of this, building operations are responsible for 28% of emissions on an annual basis4. As a result, the pressure to reduce carbon emissions from the buildings in which we live, work, and learn is growing, and the price of inaction is clear.

retrofitting

Whilst many will be looking towards innovative low carbon technologies to improve energy efficiency and achieve ambitious climate targets, there are far simpler, and more cost-effective measures that can be taken. Therefore, it’s arguable that there has never been a better time for business owners and building managers to review core building systems and ensure energy savings and carbon reductions are at the top of their priority list.

 

Taking control of lighting

Lighting is one of the most fundamental building services, but it is a huge source of energy consumption – not only does it represent 5% cent of worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but electricity for lighting also accounts for approximately 15% of global power consumption5.

Yet small changes can make a big difference. And in this instance, retrofitting is the key to success. Replacing out-dated lighting with modern LED systems is vital when it comes to cutting energy bills and making buildings more efficient, as well as reducing carbon emissions as part of wider sustainability efforts. With the British Chamber of Commerce’s latest economic survey reporting that companies show no change when investing in plant, machinery, or equipment6, the good news is that such upgrades are easy to do and can be achieved in return for relatively small investments.

The ability of LED technology to reduce energy consumption by two-thirds or more, as well as greatly increased product lifespans, is now universally accepted. As well as generating savings of between 60% to 80%, upgrades should be viewed as a key component of any decarbonisation plan allowing organisations to make a long-term climate commitment.

As the need for building systems to perform both effectively and cost-effectively has become more acute, so has the demand for control solutions that allow building managers and other end-users to get the most out of their systems.

Lighting for the future

Intelligent lighting control systems add a level of flexibility that is vital. For example, installing PIR sensors ensure that lights are not used when the room is unoccupied by dimming or switching off the fittings. Daylight dimming reduces the output of the luminaires when natural light levels increase. Not only does this ensure that lights are only used when they are required but also provides a more organic lighting design.

Beyond that, a network which connects all the light fittings and sensors to a centralised control system makes it much easier for building and facilities managers to make informed decisions about how the space is being used. By tracking energy usage through retrofitting, they can make changes to lighting schedules and settings and identify further ways in which consumption can be reduced.

Companies who move in this direction can also be buoyed by the realisation that they are also helping to ensure the wellbeing of their employees by creating a healthier environment to boost alertness, productivity, and comfort. With Generation Z workers also seeking employers who can demonstrate strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments7, the business case for investing in cost effective lighting upgrades grows.

Retrofitting buildings with modern, efficient lighting systems could be seen by many as a complex and time-consuming affair. Engaging with a lighting specialist who can provide expert guidance and a broad range of the latest products remains the most effective fast-track to a lighting solution that saves money and aligns with sustainability goals, all within budget.

No business can afford to pay the price of inaction when it comes to energy, and lighting is the perfect place to make positive changes.