Increasing concerns about rising energy costs are shaking up the commercial lighting business on the supply side with frequent technical advances, especially in LED lighting, yet on the demand side there is still much apathy. It seems that of all the controllable lighting sold in Europe today, 75% is only being controlled through the use of primitive on/off switches. The causes behind such lethargy are varied and probably include user suspicions about energy efficiency claims, hardly helped by widespread misinformation from new entrants to the LED industry, but there must also be widespread ignorance about great technical advances in LED efficiency. If that be so, then there is probably even more ignorance about advances in control techniques, like Harvard Engineering’s EyeNut monitoring and control system for indoor lighting, designed to save energy and give managers unrivalled control of buildings. It can be easily retrofitted to existing lighting because it eliminates the need for re-wiring. Its advanced wireless technology can be operated remotely and by analysing data EyeNut can create a ‘heat map’ to give a comprehensive energy consumption overview and so indicate the best way to optimise light output and cut energy consumption. This is a big advance on dimmer or people present sensors, especially as a single hub using graphic user interface over the internet can control multiple sites.

chazSuch advanced monitoring/control devices when combined with the most appropriate LED lighting can yield stunning paybacks over one year or less, especially when much lower maintenance costs are factored in and their much longer life spans. And the good news does not stop there.

The Carbon Trust, for example, offers interest-free loans and there is the Enhanced Capital Allowance that allows write off of the total investment cost against the first year’s tax. The Carbon Trust is also on hand to give free energy audits and advice.

Such investments in energy-saving devices should also enhance compliance with the Energy Act 2011, enforceable from 2018, yet the industry seems inadequately prepared for that deadline. The number of commercial sites with energy performance certificates on borderline E rating or below could still be over 40%, according to one recent survey.

In warehouses, in particular, there can be little excuse to be in the dark over lighting because lighting typically accounts for 70% of all energy consumed, and apart from massive energy savings there can be other advantages from the most appropriate lighting, as Blakemore Food Service in Wakefield found. Lutterworth Ecolighting’s shallow design for its LED lamps meant that Blakemore could allow for extra storage pallet capacity. Delivering 89% energy savings, the new lighting meant savings of £45,000 annually, or a payback in just 1.3 years. The environment benefited, too, through the cut of 245 tonnes of CO2 consumption annually. The dramatic improvement in lighting levels not only delivers a better working environment but also a safer one.

The clock is now counting down the time to energy compliance year of 2018. Given all the advantages from recent advances in lighting technology, with more to come, there is no longer any excuse to be so benighted over lighting.