Green lighting saves cash and carbon at two Brighton and Hove schools

Posted On 08 Feb 2021 at 12:27 pm

A switch to more energy-efficient lighting is expected to save tens of thousands of pounds and tons of carbon emissions at two Brighton and Hove schools.

The Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) and the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA) have replaced old fluorescent lighting with clearer, brighter and more energy-efficient LED lights.

Two other schools run by the Aldridge Education multi-academy trust have also made the change, with the remaining five expected to follow suit.

The contractor eLight, which carried out the work, said: “By making the switch and benefiting from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to fund the majority of the project, the schools will collectively save over £150,000 a year in lighting costs.”

The company said that the work would cut the schools’ carbon footprint, reducing carbon emissions by more than 220 tons – 224 metric tonnes – a year.

The work involved installing more than 8,500 luminaires – or lighting units – and was carried out over four weeks and completed in December.

Aldridge Education estates director Will Shaw said: “We were aware that the lighting in a number of our schools needed updating.

“But we also wanted to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint and save operating costs, freeing up resources for education. This project achieves all those objectives.

“Students are highly engaged about their impact on the environment now so it is important that we can demonstrate to them that we are doing our bit to show environmental leadership.

“eLight has made the transition really straightforward and I’m sure we’ll be working together for many years to come.”

Harvey Sinclair, the chief executive of eEnergy Group, eLight’s parent company, said: “The impact lighting has in an education context is often underestimated but it really is crucial in creating the best possible learning environment.

“I’m thrilled that Aldridge Education is working with us to make the switch.”

Through its “light as a service” model, eLight audits the existing lighting before designing cheaper energy-saving replacements.

The company said: “The system is installed with no upfront charge. The school pays for the installation on a monthly basis, with the energy saving more than covering the cost.”

And eLight said that it maintained and guaranteed the lights for the duration of the contract.

  1. BAHTAG Reply

    Oh dear; more smoke-and-mirrors from big business seeking to make a fast buck, off the backs of the taxpayer!

    The reality is that modern high-frequency fluorescent tubes use hardly any more power than does LED lighting that produces the same level of illumination at floor-level.

    Which is to say that, if keeping to strip-lighting, it takes about two top-quality LED tubes to produce as much useful light as just one HF fluorescent tube of similar length.

    And there are now modern high-output gas-discharge lamps which probably produce more useful quality light for less electricity than can most LEDs.

    And “Quality Light”? Yes, another LED disadvantage!

    It’s a facet of LEDs that they produce a bright but diffuse ‘fuzzy’ light at their surface – in infortunate contrast to virtually every other kind of electric light, where rays of light are projected into the distance.

    These days easily observed in many supermarkets where there’s been a misguided change from fluorescents to LEDs – glancing up at the ceiling the luminaires are now almost too bright to look at, yet down at floor-level barely enough light to clearly see the products on the lowest shelf!

    The article helpfully informs us that the schools have had new “luminaires”, trade jargon for ‘light-fittings’, installed. Which identifies another LED issue.

    The output of all lighting degrades over time. For decades this phenomenon has been recognised in supermarkets and offices by a planned renewal of all fluorescent tubes in one go every two years or so. Affordable with a bulk wholesale price of about £2 per tube.

    But LED luminaires? Sorry, in the overwhelming majority of current designs there is no ‘LED lamp’ to be replaced – it’s the entire luminaire, with all of it’s electronics, that has to be junked (because it’s considered un-economic to take old luminaires away to a workshop to be refitted with new LED chips).

    Wholesale price of a new luminaire? Probably in the range of £25-£40, plus higher labour costs for removal and replacement than simply slotting-in a new fluo tube!

    So, if BACA + PACA have used taxpayers money to specify top-grade LED lighting they’re possibly looking at a rated useful life averaging 40,000 hours. In 24/365 operation that’s about 5 years, but in a school, mainly open in daytime and during term-time, that’s a potential life, with the output declining, of more than 15 years! So will the contractor still be around then, and what lighting systems will dominate the market by then?

    Given that the highest practicable quality of lighting for workplaces has become defined over many decades (just notice the chromed ‘egg-crate’ diffusers in modern ceiling lights) can it be right to risk damaging the eyesight of students, where any total life-cycle economic and financial gain seems highly doubtful, and only marginal at best, if at all?

    The long life of LEDs can carry an advantage for premises, such as sports halls, with high ceilings where access to regularly replace fluorescents is difficult and thus expensive. But efficient long-life high-bay lighting has been available for years, with the advantage of being able to select the best kind of illumination for the activities below.

    The actions of Mr. Rod Aldrige’s BACA & PACA taxpayer-funded Academies would have been far more impressive, also to his pupils, if they’d been about maximising the use of geo-thermal ground-source heat for warming the schools; and if about maximising the generation of solar PV power, together with the installation of a professional ESS (Energy Storage System) to store the PV power not used by the school, and to export it at a top price during the evenings & weekend peak times into the emerging dynamic market for variable prices in 30-minute blocks.

    But sadly a slick snake-oil LED salesman seems to have got the better of the normally-astute Mr Aldridge (who possibly needs to remind himself it’s taxpayers money that his Academies are spending?).

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