The Premium Light Pro project finishes at the end of July – over the past three years, the project has reached and worked with a wide range of public and private sector organisations, energy consultants and assessors, and other energy and carbon saving programmes to provide support to lighting upgrade projects. Here’s a summary of what we’ve been up to and learned along the way.
What we did
The project ran 13 training sessions all over England and Wales, reaching over 280 delegates involved in both the demand and supply side of a wide variety of lighting projects.
The project has provided CPD training to:
· Local authorities and councils looking to upgrade street lighting
· Architects, designers, planners, wholesalers, installers, energy assessors and consultants through our indoor lighting courses
· Stakeholders involved in project planning, advice and installation of lighting for the SME sector through our ‘Switch the Lights’ series
What we learned
Knowledge on lighting is highly varied - project managers and installers are often not lighting specialists. In the UK, there have been calls from the Lighting Industry Association for more education and qualifications in the sector. In the public sector, there has been a trend towards more outsourcing of street lighting projects and fewer in-house specialists and engineers.
In a number of cases, we met people at our courses who had ended up being in charge of a lighting project despite no prior experience of this area, both in the private and public sector. However, we also had a number of experienced lighting professionals attend to brush up the latest information.
Whilst our courses were only day and half-day sessions, we hope that we were able to provide delegates with a strong starting point for projects and equip them with the right questions to ask along the way on topics such as compliance, quality and design. Competence in project management and installation of lighting upgrades is vital, so it is imperative that those taking the lead have the right knowledge themselves, or know where to get it.
We delivered our courses in association with the Lighting Industry Academy, with Bob Bohannon and Iain Macrae leading sessions and imparting their combined 50+ years’ industry experience, to provide expert guidance, and emphasise the need for the right know-how.
The lighting market moves fast – but some aspects don’t change as core best practice
The topic of controls came up regularly for questions in our courses – this is one of the fastest changing aspects of lighting, and many of our delegates were interested in incorporating this into projects. The colour of street lighting, and the effects this has when using a higher colour temperature has been in the news on several occasions during the project - this was another topic we addressed in our courses, as new findings are regularly researched. LED lighting technology itself continues to become more efficient, and there continues to be a fast pace of change of new products entering the market from a variety of sources.
But some key aspects don’t change in lighting:
Low quality products still make their way onto the market, that don’t achieve their efficiency claims and have been shown to be unsafe in many cases. We covered how to vet suppliers and what information should be requested for products to be installed, and that only using the cheapest products is often a road to nowhere.
Good design is very important – and no actual qualifications are needed to design a lighting scheme. But the basics make sense even if you’re not a lighting specialist: don’t light what you don’t need to, and understand what the needs of the people and the space are. We heard some good examples from our delegates of schemes they had been tasked with taking over that had design flaws, such as an industrial building that had obscured lights that were meant to be illuminating a particular task, and provided guidance for how to assess and optimise lighting for different scenarios
What we did
Switching to LED lightingand controls can deliver energy savings of up to 70%, improve a space for occupants and tasks, whilst making a strong contribution to carbon emissions reduction efforts. We put forward this message regularly through social media and had a number of appearances in the trade press.
Additionally, the Premium Light Pro UK team got out on the road regularly, reaching a large audience to deliver this message and provide supporting tools in the form of design guidance brochures, cost calculators and procurement criteria. We’ve been involved in a number of events to spread the word on this:
· Reaching SME retailers on the opportunity from LED lighting through the British Independent Retailer Association (bira) – we appeared in their magazine and presented at their annual conference in May 2018
· Running lighting advice roundtables with organisations attending events put on by the Worcester BEEP (Business Energy Efficiency Programme) and LoCASE (Low Carbon Across the South East) programmes
· Running a streetlighting surgery for town and parish councils at the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) annual conference
· Providing the project’s guidance brochures to delegates at Lux Live
What we learned
LED technology is becoming normalised and accepted. We spoke to a number of Parish and Town councils at the NALC conference who had upgraded lighting to LED, and received positive feedback not just on the financial side, but also from residents. Where grant funding is available, there is appetite from the private sector for lighting upgrades and saving money – we engaged with around 10 European Regional Development Fund energy-efficiency grant programmes for SMEs, who all told us: lighting is our most popular project.
But….it was hard to directly engage SMEs. Our most effective means of supporting the SME sector turned out to be by providing training and resources to the grant programmes. Efforts were made to directly contact and engage these companies directly, but it was rare that we could actually get SMEs themselves to take the day off work and attend our courses.
We did have some direct contact, for example with the J A N Fine Art Gallery, who attended our London Switch the Lights workshop for assistance with upgrading their gallery lighting, and providing consultancy to Aldeburgh Golf Club, ColeRoberts interiors studio and Synergi Gym. But overall, the SME sector remains a tough nut to crack on energy-efficiency, with significant energy savings possible, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Premium Light Pro has provided a web information service to those on both the LED lighting demand and supply side, which will remain online following the end of the project. This includes our database, powered by Lumispec, which lists products achieving the Premium Light Pro procurement criteria. We have also recently updated our Indoor and Street Lighting Guides, first published in 2017, to ensure up to date support is provided.
In terms of our online reach:
· There have been over 80,000 web hits on Premium Light Pro websites across the consortium, with over 14,000 on the UK site
· Over 24,000 users across Europe have received or downloaded a Premium Light Pro guidance brochure
· The project has provided a series of case studies online, presenting a range of best practice projects from a small café upgrading vintage style lamps to LED from a large-scale replacement of fluorescent tubes with LEDs and controls across a college estate
Overall, in terms of its contribution to emissions reduction targets, lighting is moving in a positive direction, as reported by the International Energy Agency. LED technology has moved to a position where it is tangibly cheaper, more reliable, and more efficient, compared to its early days, and is becoming the norm.
Project experiences suggest some key areas of focus going forward:
· It’s important to ensure that projects give intended payback, through high quality product selection. Many LED installations are only a few years old, but projects that specified LED, but not quality LED, may see less return on investment than initially expected. It is important that the practice of selecting the cheapest products that may appear to give a good return, but may only give a short term return, is not normalised.
· A different approach to engaging SMEs is needed. There is some great work happening to engage SMEs on energy-efficiency measures such as lighting, but still a massive opportunity to do more. A different approach is needed - trialling suggested models such as an ECO style scheme, or something similar to Salix’s for funding public sector energy-efficiency measures for SME could be beneficial here.
· The conversation still needs to be had on best practice in energy-efficient lighting. The lighting market moves at, well, light-speed. Good communications with enough detail on exemplar projects, the right use of controls, and even just how the experience was for people who have benefitted from an improved situation from LED lighting, can continue to normalise LED as the best lighting technology and help projects to get it right, supplemented by more training. It’s not that long since incandescent and halogen lighting was phased out, or there were complaints about sub-par fluorescent lighting – so there is very much still a place for keeping LED efficiency and quality in the spotlight.
We've updated our lighting guidance brochures - click to access the new editions: