We may now be a few weeks past the shortest day of the year, but it’s still pretty dark outside. We’ll still be doing our morning commutes before the sun has risen and finishing the day under the night sky for at least a couple more weeks.
One thing more noticeable this time of year is commercial and street lighting. Night walks past office and retail buildings show a different side to the architecture and design than you tend to see during the day. And for many of us, Christmas shopping and the January sales mean we’ve probably been spending a lot more time than usual under retail lighting recently.
To the lighting design purist, some examples are invariably better than others, but even to the uninitiated, it can be obvious when buildings are getting it wrong.
Lights left constantly on at night, or a lack of attention to the number and placement of fittings, often just doesn’t look quite right. Of course, that’s on top of causing light pollution and ramping up energy costs.
There are big energy savings at stake from the commercial lighting sector. It accounts for approximately 70 per cent of the UK’s total energy demand for lighting – about 42 billion kWh.
At a rough calculation, industry magazine Lux estimates that a nationwide switch to LEDs could save around a third of this – 14 billion kWh. Put into perspective, that’s about the same as what a new nuclear power station might produce.
For the individual business, a lighting upgrade can bring quick payback. On average, 25 per cent of an organisation’s electricity costs come from lighting, but a switch to lower-consuming LEDs can reduce this amount, in some cases by as much as 80%.
LED lighting has been around for a while now, and is far from purely the domain of the ‘deep green’ early adopter. And beyond cost savings, there are a number of additional benefits of the technology.
One such advantage is controllability, as compared to other lighting options. Take an office environment. If staff are out of the office, you can set up a system to switch off the lights above their desks. If the lights are still on when everyone has gone home, you can dim them or even fully switch them off to make huge savings on overheads.
The LED transition is already underway for many local authorities and businesses. We’ve already seen some great best practice examples of upgrades, from large scale street lighting projects to coffee shops.
But for those who have not yet gone down the LED route, we are running a series of workshops in 2018 through the Premium Light Pro project.
The workshops aim to equip installers, planners and decision-makers with the knowledge and tools to drive an LED upgrade plan to completion. Naturally, projects of this nature are not always straightforward – as Lighting Industry Association (LIA) trainer Bob Bohannon points out.
He said: “Just about anyone can end up designing a lighting project, and where there’s a lack of knowledge, things can go badly wrong. Using the wrong products can have huge pitfalls in terms of the quality and distribution of light, and the cheapest fittings could fail early on or even be unsafe.
“It’s important to use a designers and installers who understand how to select the right product, put it in the right place, and make good use of daylight.”