Controls crucial to cutting energy

The lighting industry must sing the praises of lighting controls, and the important contribution they can make to meeting the government’s energy efficiency commitments

The use of controls and intelligent systems is the key to energy reduction for lighting use, but it also brings financial benefits for users and selling opportunities for manufacturers and those in the lighting supply chain.

Sound too good to be true? Is it such a ‘black art’? If the benefits are so universal, why aren’t lighting controls more widely sold, installed and used?

There are a number of reasons, but high among them is a lack of awareness, knowledge and confidence about what can be achieved, and concerns that lighting controls and systems can be expensive to install.

The industry must address this lack of awareness and the Lighting Industry Federation (LIF) on behalf of its members, is seeking to do just that. It has established an application panel of members who are developing tools such as a lighting controls guide, which will be made available on the LIF website in the near future. Linked to that, a range of LIF training courses on lighting controls will soon be available, and the federation has also just completed a round of regional seminars where lighting controls was one of the main topics.

LIF is also working with Lux magazine to organise the LuxLive exhibition and EcoLight conference, for November, and lighting controls will figure high on the agenda.

Lighting controls help all parties involved in new build and refurbishment projects achieve the lighting requirements of the latest issue of the UK Building Regulations, and to meet the criteria for incentive schemes such as Enhanced Capital Allowances to encourage early investment in buildings.

The UK government is working on the detailed conditions for the proposed new Green Deal. The LIF will supply evidence to explain why lighting products, and lighting controls and systems in particular, should be included in the Green Deal and thus attract support under this government scheme.

The evidence will be based on the demonstrable contribution lighting can make to help the UK meet its CO2 and energy-reduction targets, which will in turn result in cost savings for users. Well designed, installed and operated lighting controls also help users provide better and more flexible working conditions for their staff and manage their carbon footprints more effectively.

This seems to be a win-win situation for all parties. The government benefits from the contribution that lighting can make to the UK targets to reduce CO2 levels; users benefit from reduced energy costs, which improves profitably by cutting operating costs; and manufacturers and suppliers benefit from supplying more value-added products to the market.

Given the speed of technological change in recent years, lighting equipment supplied only 15 years ago could in many cases be justifiably upgraded to reduce energy use. And with modern recycling processes in place, most of the materials can be recovered.

So there is plenty of incentive for the industry to overcome the challenge of raising awareness of the benefits of lighting controls and intelligent lighting systems, and to demonstrate to clients the fast payback that can be achieved by incorporating them into new and refurbished lighting installations.

To encourage client confidence however the industry must focus on ensuring that quality solutions, based on respected and open protocols, are supplied and installed. Also, users and their staff must be well trained in using those controls and systems confidently – and well supported in the longer term – to realise their full potential.

Imagine a state of the art lighting and controls system, efficient, virtually self-funding, enhancing working conditions, motivating your team, keeping costs down and enhancing your environmental credentials. Who wouldn’t want a slice of that?

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