Get ready for a surge in demand for LEDs and controls as big energy guzzlers get to grips with the Carbon Reduction Commitment. Andrew Brister investigates

Forget about Part L. When it comes to drivers for the take-up of energy-efficient lighting, then the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) looks set to put October’s revisions to Part L in the shade.

The CRC (see box), enabled under the Climate Change Act, is a major legislative plank in the Government’s drive to meet its carbon dioxide emission reduction commitments. The scheme is mandatory and aims to raise revenues of about £1 billion a year by 2014/2015 by effectively taxing organisations for the carbon dioxide emissions that are attributable to energy consumption.

The CRC targets the UK’s highest energy users, so we are talking about the likes of Tesco, M&S, large government departments and banks who will have to raise their game to avoid the new tax and drive down emissions. Surely such organisations are already at the forefront of energy-efficient thinking?

Not so, says the Carbon Trust. The trust’s analysis of large private and public organisations found significant potential for cost-effective emissions reductions through energy efficiency. Its recent analysis of the non-domestic building sector suggests reductions of 70-75 per cent could be made by 2050 at no net cost using options that exist today.
Good news for the lighting industry then. Andrew Bissell heads the lighting team at consultant Cundall. ‘The CRC has now become the focus for our clients and it is allowing us to design buildings properly at the outset,’ says Bissell. ‘When we used to outline options A, B or C, often the client would just opt for what they had done last time. Now every penny you spend on energy efficiency is going to do you some good in terms of the CRC.’

The need to appear green in the CRC’s league tables may well prove to be more important than the cost savings possible. ‘At most the CRC is going to cost you 0.6p per unit of electricity,’ says Bill Wright of Wright Energy and Environment. ‘It’s about reputation more than anything else.’

Wright has recently retired as the corporate energy and environment manager at the John Lewis Partnership, covering both Waitrose supermarkets and John Lewis department stores, and now advises organisations on their CRC strategies. ‘The argument will be about how much investment you want to make, but you can yield some very big savings.’

While at John Lewis, Wright had long been busy improving lighting efficiency. ‘After the refrigeration equipment (some 60 per cent of energy consumption), lighting was the biggest electricity consumer at 20-25 per cent. We would look at fewer, more efficient fittings, making circuits dimmable, introducing LEDs in freezer cabinets and so on.’
Bissell has his own hit list when it comes to the CRC. ‘We would tend to look at daylighting first, then controls and finally the lamp options. Good daylighting and controls can achieve savings of around 30-40 per cent.’

LEDs will of course have a major role to play as costs tumble and efficiencies improve. ‘LEDs are just on the cusp of taking over,’ says Bissell. ‘The technology is developing so quickly and we have to keep re-evaluating them because the pace of change is so fast.’
So as the likes of Tesco start seeking solutions from their consultants, will we see a whole new raft of experts springing up – the CRC adviser? Bissell points out that ‘while Cundall is not setting up a CRC division, the group has identified a CRC champion who will bring together our other specialist skills, such as lighting design, with a view to improving energy efficiency for our clients’.

There could be a vacancy out there with your name
on it.

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