No half measures on load reduction

Halving an electrical load that is typically half the electrical load of many office buildings must be a good starting point for complying with the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. John Forsyth explains how.

There are many ways that companies can start reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and so move nearer CRC compliance. A good starting point, particularly for companies with large office buildings, and also schools and hospitals, is to look at 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 workers have gone home for the night.

Lighting usually accounts for around half of the electricity costs of a typical non-residential building. Halving that consumption offers the potential to reduce the building's entire energy requirements by up to 25%.

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.

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. As a lighting-control system typically offers a payback period of between two and three years, the case for installation is compelling in terms of enhancing environmental standing, meeting CRC legislation and significantly reducing energy costs.

Even greater energy savings can be realised by combining lighting control with low-energy light sources. Ex-Or has long specialised in 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 and systems division, organisations looking 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.

One example is Honeywell’s recently introduced range of LED light fittings, which are designed as direct replacements to conventional fluorescent light sources. Having a very long life (typically up to six times longer than traditional lamp technology) they are truly low maintenance. But 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. The combination of 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.

There are many examples of locations where lighting control has made a real contribution to the reduction of carbon within buildings.

In one of the most environmentally friendly building complexes in Scotland, lighting management systems from Ex-Or were specified. The MLS digital managed lighting system and SceneSelect II systems are used in almost all internal areas of the office campus occupied by Acergy, a leading seabed-to-surface engineering and construction contractor for the global oil and gas industry.

Ex-OR, lighting control
aylight and presence control of lighting in this library minimise the unnecessary use of lighting. At 9 a.m. (left) sunlight is streaming in through the windows and no-one is in the library, so all lights are off. At 3 p.m., the main lights are still not needed, but some of the rack lighting is on. By 5 p.m., darkness has fallen, so the main lighting is on, but rack lighting is not needed.

The bespoke multi-million pound campus covers 17 acres and features a 10 700 m2 office building on three levels. Ex-Or’s lighting controls and systems have also been installed in the leisure complex on the site, used by Acergy’s 650 staff and their families.

Another client is the University of Essex, where the installation of lighting controls has delivered significant energy and cost savings. Richard Frost, University of Essex energy manager, had this point to make: ‘One of our core values is environmental sustainability, and we look at this in its widest sense.

‘Reducing unnecessary energy use obviously helps us cut our carbon footprint. But we are also keen on specifying products made in this country rather than imported from overseas. This increases employment opportunities for domestic workers, cuts imports and reduces international transport — all of which actively promote environmental sustainability.

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.

John Forsyth is general manger with Ex-Or.


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