Glen Krise, managing director of Megaman, a manufacturer of highperformance,
low-energy lighting, explores how LEDs and smart
technology can improve the sustainability of a project.
In September 2018, the last stage of an
EU directive eliminating the import and
manufacture of incandescent light bulbs was
put into action. This decree was introduced
by the European Commission in 2009 to limit
the production and use of ‘high-energy’ light
bulbs, for a preferred alternative of energy-saving
technologies, such as LED lighting.
As a result, this increasing need for LED lighting
in domestic projects and, critically for specifiers on
commercial projects, is set to have a positive impact
on the future of lighting efficiency in the UK.
Initially, there was a sense of discomfort towards
the clinical bright-white light of LEDs as opposed
to the calming and warming glow of incandescence.
Now, LEDs can replicate the same effects and are
being accepted as a viable alternative. Driven and
supported by legislation and best practice, new
standards are being set for the energy performance
of new and existing buildings.
When requested to specify a product that would
particularly improve a building’s rating, architects
and specifiers should be aware that one of the
most frequent recommendations found in an EPC
report is to install energy efficient lighting, with
LEDs being the eco-friendliest option. Firstly, a key
advantage of LEDs over traditional incandescent
and halogen lighting is the long operational life
span. LEDs will provide an excellent quality of light
for many years, while also reducing energy costs
for any building. With an approximate life span of
over 50,000 hours, the need and inconvenience for
regularly replacing lamps is eradicated. Furthermore,
as LEDs provide a better lumen output with each
use, less energy is wasted. This limits carbon dioxide
emissions and can significantly reduce the carbon
footprint of a project.
Smart lighting for the home
Alongside the LED’s revolutionary evolution is
the rise of automated systems - more commonly
known as smart lighting. By 2020, it has been
estimated that every household within G7 countries
will be connected to smart technology. Pairing LED
lamps with new developments in technology has
not only increased the energy efficiency of lamps
but will enable lighting throughout the home to be
switched on or off wirelessly via a smart phone or
by our own verbal commands.
These smart systems have an influential effect
on energy efficiency, with settings that enable
users to specifically select the intensity of light
required, where and when it is needed. This
reduces unnecessary energy wastage and can lead
to significant energy savings.
Incorporating dimmer technology for single
or multiple lights can reduce energy usage, as
dimmers lower energy usage on a 1:1 ratio –
meaning that if the lights are dimmed by 30%,
they will use 30% less energy. While most energy
saving methods mean sacrificing quality, dimmer
controls can enrich environments.
While the increased percentage of LEDs has been
slow in the domestic market, the commercial
sector was far quicker in recognising the benefits
of these products in larger buildings. When taking
in lifestyle costs and maintaining a long-term
perspective, commercial specifiers will be able to
assess and view the ecological advantages of LEDs.
Smart technology such as occupancy sensors are
often utilised in this case, as they will detect when
an individual is in the room and turn the lights on
and off as required. For commercial applications,
this is particularly effective as the majority of
commercial buildings are over-lit, often with lights
left on in unoccupied parts of the building.
Daylight sensors are also a valuable product for
any large office, retail or leisure environment, as
they will automatically adjust the lighting levels
in accordance with the amount of natural light
in the room. Lighting costs can be reduced by up
to 40% and the lifespan of a lamp extended by
20 times if lights are dimmed by 50% during use.
On the whole, the automatic alternation of light
brightness when there is sufficient natural light
can save up to 60% on annual energy costs.
Lighting accounts for 20% of all energy
consumption in the UK. It is also critical to note
that lighting costs can be responsible for up to
40% of a building’s electricity bill, which indicates
that any way to save light and exploit natural
resources is beneficial. With new legislation and
guidelines coming into play, specifiers are likely to
gain increased awareness surrounding the critical
environmental advantages of LEDs and smart
lighting. In effect, this will add long-term savings
and sustainable credentials to any project.
8 | BUILDING PRODUCTS