Switch the Lights workshops shine a light on efficiency and quality for the SME sector

switch the light workshops march-july

The Premium Light Pro project ran a series of three regional workshops in March and July, addressing upgrades to efficient, LED lighting. The ‘Switch the Lights’ series was a follow-up to the successful campaign run by the Green Construction Board and the Grocer magazine in 2016. Energy Saving Trust worked with trainers from the Lighting Industry Academy and a series of industry partners with the goal of addressing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector.

The last few years have seen many examples of larger organisations benefiting from energy and cost savings and improved lighting that an upgrade to LED lighting offers, from Sainsbury’s to large public sector estates funded through Salix. 

However, engaging the SME sector on energy efficiency, including lighting, is notoriously difficult.  The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently issued a call for evidence in this area – reiterating the key barriers: SMEs lack time, resource, internal expertise on energy efficiency and access to funding that would allow them to benefit fully from upgrade measures.  Whilst the gains on carbon emission reduction may seem small when applied to individual small businesses, collectively the energy consumption of SMEs is significant. In fact, SMEs account for 50% of all business energy use in the UK at around 58 Terawatt-hours (TWh) per year.

Premium Light Pro exists to address this gap and our Switch the Lights workshop series was was attended by organisations that operate grant and advice programmes, installers and companies themselves.

Durham, London and Midlands Switch the Lights Workshops

The first workshop in March was held in Durham at the Thorn Academy of Light – providing a great facility to not only learn about the benefits of efficient lighting but also to see them. Alongside a training session from the Lighting Industry Academy (LIA)’s Iain Macrae, the Thorn team provided great demonstration of different colour options, use of daylight and applications from food sales to fashion retail.  Attendees came from the Durham Business Energy Programme, Newcastle Business Energy Saving Team, and a range of regional installers working with SMEs.

Following this in July, Energy Saving Trust worked with Lutron to put on a London workshop at their Experience Centre – a purpose built facility to show how the benefits of lighting control through dimming, as well as the use of daylight – a key aspect of energy saving for SMEs.  Using lighting controls well can be a significant energy saver for this sector – British Gas installed over 6,000 smart meters in SME premises in 2012 and found that 46% of energy use was happening outside business hours.  The LIA’s Bob Bohannon led a training session for attendees ranging from SME installers to staff managing an upgrade of an art gallery, that also included demonstrations from Soraa and SaveMoneyCutCarbon on the importance of selecting quality lighting that has a long lifetime and renders colours well – both key pillars of the Premium Light Pro indoor lighting procurement criteria.

Thorlux Lighting hosted the final event in the Midlands at their Application Centre – a great demonstration space for showing the effects of lighting a space correctly for the needs of the occupants whilst saving energy.  The demonstration again showed how an effective and smart control system can deliver real savings for organisations. It also looked at how a holistic approach to lighting design, considering daylight and even the colours of internal walls is essential; this can optimise energy savings and the needs of the space in a way that a one-size-fits-all approach may miss.

Attendees came from the Low Carbon SMEs project, Worcester Business Energy Efficiency Programme and Herefordshire Council, which all work with a range of SMEs on energy-efficiency upgrade programmes, with lighting being one of the most popular projects.  Bob Bohannon again delivered 2 hours of training, covering key aspects of correct lighting scheme design and maintenance, as well as a focus on quality and compliance. Conducting due diligence on suppliers and the products being installed is essential to a lighting project, to realise the energy savings and ensure the payback time is as expected. 

“It was great to be able to work with the various industry partners to bring the benefits of good lighting and controls to life,” said Stewart Muir, who manages the project.  “Good design, the right control strategy and product quality are all interlinked to deliver energy savings – it was really beneficial to be able to show this as well as teach it through these workshops.”