EDITOR'S BLOG
When it comes to cutting energy, money talks

So energy prices are soaring. Good

And there’s a big fuss in the media, from the Mail to the Today programme. Even better.

Are the energy companies profiteering? Probably. Do I care? Not really. Not because I welcome the prospect of pensioners taking to their beds this winter because they can’t afford to turn on the gas heater. I don’t. But the bottom line is the biggest motivator in getting companies to tackle wasted energy.

There are many hurdles to overcome before an energy-driven refurb gets the green light. Not least of course is the capital expenditure budget. But it’s amazing how often a chief accountant or CFO gets interested in energy and lighting when they come out of a five-year deal with E.ON and they have to put another half-a-million quid in their forecasts for power costs. Really mucks up those beautiful spreadsheets.

There are plenty of other signficant barriers to refurbs: users are not aware about what’s possible, the landlord pays while tenant benefits, a general confusion about technology (LEDs, anyone?), and a short-termist culture in which nothing can appear on the balance sheet.

But in the face of rising energy costs, these can melt away. The lighting industry has to do its bit. Frankly, the climate for selling the twin benefits of lighting – engaging lit environments and lower energy use – has never been better. Sure, there have been energy crises before, such as the oil crisis in 1973, but the culture of energy conservation then was a short-term condition brought on by in ation and industrial strife. Come the exuberant, champagne swilling eighties, and it was all forgotten.

Also, the technological offer from lighting manufacturers wasn’t as compelling then as it is today. There is a huge disconnect between the sort of lighting you can see in warehouses, railway stations, car parks and high street stores and the kit that will be on show at LuxLive.

The lighting industry must capitalise on all these factors so lighting is pushed up the agenda and into the boardroom. After all, everyone in the industry knows that lighting is the easiest way for most organisations to save energy. Lamps, efficient luminaires and lighting controls are easy to retrofit or refurb, and can save up to 80 per cent.

It’s the second biggest consumer of energy in a building – yet how many CFOs know this?

We need to start banging the drum. I see the LuxLive exhibition as just the start of an outreach campaign that aims to make the biggest users of lighting energy sit up and take notice.

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