Soaring energy costs have crystalised the urgent need for businesses to put energy efficiency and sustainability at the top of the agenda; analysts predict that energy costs for businesses could rise by as much as 310%, with the average SME set to see a rise of 250%.
At the same time, the overarching need for all organisations to pull together to tackle the climate change emergency means that investing in energy-efficient strategies signals a win-win for businesses – improving green credentials while saving on energy costs.
For businesses seeking to implement cost-saving strategies, lighting is a smart place to start. According to The Climate Group, lighting accounts for almost 5% of all CO2 emissions– startling when we consider the many simple ways in which creating the perfect light can easily encompass energy savings alongside an improved user experience.
While much progress has already been made in promoting the use of green LED lightbulbs, for example, this is just the start. Here we explore smart technologies that not only unlock tangible savings but create ideal spaces for organisations to thrive.
1 – Creating the perfect light for any situation with automation
Most buildings today are over-lit, with light levels set higher than appropriate for the space, or spaces left lit when unoccupied. This wastes energy and creates discomfort, and can reduce productivity; for example, a third of workers have reported artificial light being too bright with eight in ten suffering negative symptoms such as headaches.
The energy-saving potential of automated blinds is often underestimated. With 30% of heating energy being lost through windows, leaving windows untouched is an energy-saving open goal. According to the US Energy Department, about 30% of heating energy is lost through windows, while in hotter times three-quarters of sunlight enters double-glazed windows to become heat. Using heating or air conditioning systems to counter these fluctuations is a huge energy drain.
Make your building work harder for you by adding intelligent, energy-efficient light control. Incorporating lighting, shading, and sensors, today’s smart flexible, scalable systems for lighting can deliver maximum energy savings alongside comfort and control. Combining data from lighting systems with that from additional sources, such as weather, temperature, and seasonal changes businesses can unlock energy-saving benefits and provide a better setting for users. These solutions can be easily designed, installed and reconfigured to meet the changing needs of a building.
2 – Interoperability; only invest in smart systems that work together
As the Crown Commercial Service recently wrote “IoT solutions based on sensors and data are a cost-effective way to tackle energy inefficiencies from heating to lighting. Designing and deploying automation into systems, buildings management, operations, and ecosystems at scale can deliver enhanced capacity.”
When considering how to harness automation technology to help deliver energy efficiency and savings, it is vital to select systems that are designed with interoperability in mind. Systems must be able to speak to each other, integrated to ensure complementary outcomes and open up further opportunities for carbon reduction by working together.
. Users must therefore look for systems that integrate across vendors and verticals. In a recent report by the UK’s Energy Digitalisation Taskforce, it was clear that interoperability will be key to realising a low carbon future. As it summarises, ”digitalisation of the energy system is not just a ‘nice to have’ but a core requirement in ensuring that we can accelerate the journey to Net Zero.”
Smart solutions for buildings new and old
Designing new buildings that incorporate these smart lighting principles should be a given, but the existing building stock should not be ignored. According to the UK Green Building Council, the UK’s building stock is set to be the oldest in the developed world, with 80% of the buildings that we will be using in 2050 already standing today.
Retrofitting buildings to incorporate automated lighting creates smarter and healthier buildings, where both financial and carbon savings can be made, whilst avoiding intrusive building work. This makes lighting the most important and least inconvenient place to start with carbon-reducing retrofits.
Human Centric Design
The building occupants must always be at the centre of what we, as professionals, design. That is why it is critical that you make sure you benefit from including subject matter experts early in the process. Data can help make the most of what you have, but more often than not much greater gains can be made by building them into the genesis of every project.
For the first time the building regulations include explicit requirements for lighting controls. Please visit lutron.com/UKBuildingRegulations for more information, including videos and our online training courses. You can also register for a free Lutron webinar by scanning the QR code below.