At a time of deep budget cuts, the NHS has been set challenging carbon emission reduction targets. One hospital is squaring the circle with a refit of its lighting that’s cutting energy consumption by three-quarters. Pennie Varvarides reports

The NHS is an institution that doesn’t sleep. For that reason, it tends to run up one heck of an electricity bill.

North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple is one of the many hospitals that is looking for a solution to the twin challenges of budget cuts and carbon targets. Its answer? You’ve guessed it, an LED lighting retrofit.

The hospital, part of the North Devon Healthcare Trust, not only wanted to tick those two boxes, but also wanted to add a third – health. It is essential for the hospital to reduce the risk of infection.

LEDs were considered because the technology is energy efficient and demands less maintenance than conventional lighting. Minimising relamping reduces the amount of harmful bacteria that could be introduced into the atmosphere, which made LEDs all the more attractive to the facilities management staff.

The installation has saved 94,866 kilowatt-hours

The existing 72W fluorescents in the corridors and general wards were replaced with a mix of 20 and 30W LED fittings. This was the first stage – a testing ground for the LED technology. Lighting supplier MHA installed sealed units that stop dust, bacteria and dead insects from gathering around and inside warm lighting fittings and spreading bacteria.

The existing fluorescents were replaced with 4000K Tilite 20 and 30W LED units in the speci ed areas. These burn 20 per cent of the energy of the original fluorescents, while improving lux levels and uniformity.

The colour of life

Another important criterion for the hospital was colour rendering, because it is crucial that doctors can see colours clearly when they are checking their patients. A minimum colour rendering of 80 CRI was specified for all rooms and areas in which clinical inspection takes place, so the colour of skin would be rendered accurately. The colour temperature is a cool 4000K.

Tom Harrison, boss of Manchester-based MHA, says: ‘Every year, the trust was consuming large amounts of electricity on lighting using up 127,910 kilowatt-hours a year and emitting 70 tonnes of CO2 in the specified areas.

‘The new lighting installation has cut the hospital’s overall carbon emissions by 354 tonnes and saved 94,866 kilowatt-hours. With the addition of dimmers, energy savings have exceeded 75 per cent.’

Special treatment

MHA developed a bespoke dimming system for North Devon Hospital so the lights could be dimmed to five per cent. This was a fundamental requirement for the trust, because it gives it control of ward lighting levels during sleeping hours to create a more pleasant environment that promotes healing.

Moses Warbuton, redevelopment manager at North Devon Healthcare Trust, says: ‘With the lighting system we have made signficant savings to our energy bills and of course those savings will be ploughed back into clinical care. The system has really made a difference to patients too because it has created a much better atmosphere for our patients and staff. Even light and less flicker is a huge improvement for those patients with sight problems.’

After the success of stage one, the trust decided to extend the scheme to 11 other areas, such as the maternity unit, gynaecology and the mammography unit. Most of the labs have also now been fi tted with sealed LEDs.

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