Saturday, July 20, 2024

Illuminating the Path to Carbon Neutrality

One significant obstacle faced by electrical contractors is the need for an emphasis on sustainability. As Net Zero 2050 comes ever closer, and partway targets present an immediate call to action, the commercial sector needs to make changes sooner rather than later. John Carruthers, Managing Director of CP Electronics, part of Legrand UK & Ireland, discusses the role lighting controls must play on the way to net zero.

Stepping away from Fossil Fuels

The UK government has committed to the goal of reducing or offsetting carbon emissions by the year 2050. In accordance with this important target, laws are set to change and it will become illegal for a commercial landlord to sign a new tenant for a building that has an F or G EPC rating. It is therefore necessary – for both environmental and fiscal reasons – to lower carbon emissions in every sector.

Many companies across the UK have implemented environmental policies focussed on reducing waste and recycling. Schools, too, have targets aimed at improving energy efficiency and sustainability practises. Despite this, many buildings are currently incapable of meeting conditions necessary for Net Zero 2050.

All hope is not lost, however. One way for businesses to significantly reduce their carbon footprint is to rethink their lighting. According to Statistica, commercial lights alone use 12.6% of the UK’s electricity each year. Plus, facilities managers know that lighting takes up a large portion of electricity costs in many warehouses. As the energy crisis shows no signs of a speedy resolution, we can move forward with the assumption that, unless changes are made, bills will only get harder to pay.

One of the government’s interim goals involves cutting emissions over the next 15 years to a third of what they are now. In order to accomplish this, commercial, industrial and public spaces must implement a more efficient lighting solution. Contractors have an essential role in making this goal a reality.

Fewer Hours in Use

Since so many people have been working from home, a huge number of commercial buildings have been experiencing a considerably reduced occupancy. Some are on reduced capacity for several days in a row. If an office is designed to comfortably accommodate 200 people, for example, a certain amount of lighting will be necessary, but as many desks are left empty as part of hybrid working, lighting should be able to adapt to save energy and money.

Due to this, the need for smart lighting controls is growing increasingly obvious, especially when considering the impact of commercial building lighting on the environment. After installation, smart energy controls help business reduce their energy output by optimising the way the buildings are lit.

Energy controls that reduce a building’s emissions should be embraced. The growing popularity of digital ecosystems is an example of how technology can provide convenience, safety and increased productivity. Added to these benefits is the fact that it is a crucial step in achieving Net Zero 2050.

One option that contractors might look to offer is automatic detectors. These respond to a person’s presence or absence and adjust the lighting accordingly. They can also detect if there is enough light and respond accordingly, meaning free, natural light can be taken full advantage of.

In many indoor spaces of considerable size, like schools and offices, empty areas are often lit constantly, in preparation for a person to come into the area. This causes an enormous amount of wasted energy. Electrical installers can use this as an opportunity to recommend smart lighting controls.

Combined with motion sensors and daylight harvesting, Casambi enabled lighting controls from CP Electronics are one solution to the energy and money waste caused by inefficient lighting. These detectors are designed to respond automatically to the presence of people nearby and adapt to other light sources illuminating the area.

Final Thoughts

While many organisations are settling into a culture of hybrid working, they have an opportunity to make sure their buildings are well equipped and ready for the future. These spaces will always need lighting, but the lighting must be smart and sustainable if they are to meet the requirements of Net Zero 2050.

This is no small challenge but contractors do not need to respond to it without support. With training, expert consultation and a wide range of products, CP Electronics offers the support and resources necessary for contractors to offer reduced energy wastage via energy controls.

Most people do not realise how simple the switch to can be. By working with experts in lighting and energy controls, the public sector and commercial and industrial companies can make significant progress towards meeting the requirements of Net Zero 2050.

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