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LEDs lead energy revolution but suppliers could try harder

During the last decade installing LED lighting has become the most popular way for building owners and occupiers to increase the energy efficiency of their premises, according to a recent report from the Carbon Trust, which is now promoting take-up by offering specification advice and access to an accredited supplier network.

“A good LED product should be fit-and-forget”. This is the verdict from the Carbon Trust, reporting on the popularity of energy efficient lighting earlier this year. However, for many building owners, it’s not as simple as that and getting the right advice is not always simple.
The argument in favour of LED lighting is clear. The technology is improving all the time, with LEDs capable of drastically reducing power requirements while maintaining or improving on existing lighting performance, whether that lighting is incandescent, fluorescent, metal halide or sodium. The Carbon Trust estimates that the best returns are gained from LEDs where operating hours are highest. Where continuous operation is required, payback periods are quoted as being “close to one year”. In office buildings where lighting is required for 3000 hours or more each year, the return on investment can be less than five years, especially if lighting is controlled effectively either by a building management system or by conscientious occupants.

However, replacement of traditional lighting with LEDs is still far from universal – even where there is a clear case for switching from one to the other. This is partly down to lack of awareness of the energy performance benefits among building owners. However, the biggest hurdle to specifying LEDs is knowing where to go for a reliable, effective energy efficient lighting solution.

The Carbon Trust has stepped in and is now providing comprehensive specifications for a number of clients including Tesco, Bathstore and Subway as well as a list of accredited suppliers whose experience and capabilities have been verified by the Trust. To date, more than 1500 energy efficient lighting projects have been reviewed, valued at a total of £38 million. According to the Trust the emphasis when specifying should be on lamp quality and warranty periods and finding a trusted supplier with a robust reputation. For more information or to search accredited suppliers via The Green Business Directory go to www.carbontrust.com.

Want to know more about LEDs? Contact Mark Rabbett, Director from Watts' London office, on 020 7280 8000.

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.