Meeting carbon reduction commitments

The green agenda dominates the UK building and construction sector and is being driven by the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. The CRC is the legislation that penalises those organisations that don’t cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation is designed to reduce the carbon emissions made by larger commercial and public sector organisations by 1.2m tonnes of carbon per year by 2020. If organisations do not start putting carbon reduction strategies into place immediately, it could put a huge cost burden on them.

There are many ways that companies can start reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and so move them nearer CRC compliance. A good starting point, particularly for companies with large office buildings is to look at their lighting usage. The Carbon Trust estimates that non-residential buildings alone are responsible for around 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Artificial lighting accounts for a significant proportion of that total.

Much of the lighting used in non-residential buildings is wasted. Lighting levels are needlessly high in many office buildings, and we are all familiar with the huge office blocks where lights remain blazing long after the office’s workers have gone home for the night.

With electricity usually accounting for half of the total energy bill of a typical non-residential building and lighting usually accounting for around half of this, lighting controls have the scope to make reductions across 25% of a building’s total energy consumption.

So the first task for any organisation starting on the CRC road is to eliminate the unnecessary use of lighting in their buildings. Staff training could encourage office workers to switch off the lights when they are not needed. But experience has shown that automatic lighting control is the only sure way of completely eliminating lighting wastage.

Eliminate wastage

Installing a lighting control system will ensure that lights are automatically switched off when areas of the building are unoccupied. When lights are needed again, they can either be switched on manually or automatically depending on the system and the operational requirements. The inclusion of photocells ensures that lights dim automatically to take full advantage of available levels of natural light.

Energy savings delivered by automatic lighting control are significant. The case for installation is compelling in terms of enhancing environmental standing, meeting CRC legislation and significantly reducing energy costs.

Ex-Or has long been in the forefront of providing lighting management and control, being a pioneer in presence detection control equipment using microwave and ultrasonic technology. As Ex-Or is now part of Honeywell’s Electrical Devices & Systems division, organisations looking to Ex-Or for help in meeting their CRC obligations need not be limited solely to lighting control. It is now possible for clients to benefit from complete CRC solutions combining not only lighting control but other energy saving products.

A good example is the recently introduced range of Honeywell LED Utility Lighting. These are designed as direct retro-fit replacements to conventional batten-type fluorescent light fittings. Available as twin 1.2m and 1.5m, either 18W or 24W fittings and in batten, diffused and IP-rated versions, they have an ultra-long life (typically lasting up to six times longer than traditional lamp technology) and are truly

low maintenance. Most importantly, that long life and low power consumption means they deliver impressive carbon reduction results. Being digitally controllable they are ideally matched to Ex-Or’s management and control systems. So the combination of lighting control with LED fittings is irresistible, eliminating waste of unnecessary lighting and ensuring that when lighting is needed it is delivered using the lowest amount of energy possible.

Cutting consumption

There are many locations where Ex-Or has made a real contribution to the reduction of carbon within buildings. One of the most recent has been the installation of lighting controls throughout Portsmouth City Council’s civic headquarters.

This has led to the council cutting its annual energy consumption for lighting in the offices and corridors before the installation from 1,259,398 KWh to 655,211 KWh. This represents annual cost savings of approx £39,151 and annual CO2 savings of 326 tonnes. This has been achieved by the automatic elimination of the unnecessary use of its office lighting.

The energy saving being made has enabled Portsmouth City Council to cut its carbon footprint and make a serious contribution to its Carbon Reduction Commitment obligations.

Within the 31,679sq m glass-fronted civic offices on Guildhall Square, built in the 1970s, more than 1,500 staff are at work across its seven floors. Before the installation, the lights were on for much longer than the core 9am to 5pm working day.

Jamie Cake, Electrical Services Manager for Portsmouth City Council said lighting controls were needed that would ensure light was delivered only where and when it was required: “Portsmouth City Council is an organisation that takes its environmental obligations very seriously. It was unacceptable that energy was being wasted by the lights remaining on when they were not needed. The Carbon Reduction Commitment is designed to reduce the carbon emissions made by larger commercial and public sector organisations like ourselves by 1.2m tonnes of carbon per year by 2020. This reduction in lighting usage has given us a head start in helping us meet our CRC commitments.

“Not only that, but the installation has led to us cutting an estimated £33,800 a year off our electricity bills. We are also saving a significant amount in maintenance costs as we do not have to replace the fluorescent tubes as frequently. Put these two factors together and we estimate the installation will have paid for itself within four years, and will continue to deliver energy cost savings for many more years to come.”

Make savings

CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) president Mike Simpson recently publicly stated that if we could instantly put in place all the possible savings that can be delivered by today’s lighting technology, we would reduce enough carbon (through generation) to offset all the world’s air travel.

There is no doubt that lighting control can play a significant role in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The good news is the technology to achieve that is available today – and it is tried, tested and is proving its ability.

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