Lighting consumes 13% of the global electricity supply, and public/commercial buildings consume 60% of this - so why aren't we more concerned by sustainable lighting?

Sustainability is very much the modern status quo – we’re quickly approaching a climate change point of no return and everyone from the man and woman on the street to building managers and C-level executives at FTSE 100 companies are all are finding themselves involved with sustainability day-to-day. Increasingly, business decision makers are also being judged by their efforts to improve sustainability across their business and lower their carbon footprint.

Indeed, in the UK, the Government has announced its aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by a whopping 50% by 2025. Simply switching to more efficient lighting makes a significant impact on such targets. However, when efficient LED lighting is integrated with connected lighting control systems additional savings can be made whereby offices and commercial buildings can reduce their energy consumption by up to 70%. Such systems can monitor and even turn down or switch off lights in areas not being used. Ultimately, the introduction of connected lighting control systems with LED lighting contributes to less electricity required across the board as well as a reduction in emissions.

The Connected Building

Like so much of the world, the lighting industry has undergone vast technological advancements in the past few years - improving convenience, experience and analytical insights for people and businesses alike. Through connected lighting systems – where networked lighting is connected to software management systems and often integrated with building systems – facilities managers can have unparalleled control and insight into the use of lighting. Subsequently, this intelligence can enable facilities managers to reduce the amount of energy used in their building.

Also, these connected lighting fixtures can host sensors, able to continually collect granular data from their surrounding environment. Then the data is processed to present valuable insight to building and facilities managers. These insights can be anything from the temperature variance to room occupancy – showing which areas of the building are the most in use and allowing for more efficient use of office space. The Deloitte office in Amsterdam – the Edge Building – is a prime example of this in action, where sensors embedded in the office luminaires allowed building managers to recognise underutilised office space. The end result? Deloitte was able to relocate 1,000 extra staff into the building, and ultimately create a saving of 3.6 million Euro per annum through more effective use of space – proving that sustainability pays. There are tailored systems available such as the Interact Pro lighting system which allows substantial cost savings while at the same time providing a nicer working environment that can be tailored to an employee’s needs at a moment’s notice.

Workers also benefit and can be given the option to control their office lighting directly using smartphones or tablets. This allows them to personalise the lighting and temperature in their specific area, making the workplace a more comfortable environment and contributing towards productivity.

Human-centric Lighting

Increasingly, the workplace environment is under the microscope. There are a number of initiatives – both in the UK and globally – focused on wellbeing in the workplace and improving the sustainability of how and where we work. One such project is the WELL building standard certification, aimed at advancing health and well-being in buildings globally. For businesses wishing to register their properties for WELL certification, lighting plays an important part – with the WELL project guidelines stating that lighting should minimize disruption to the body’s circadian system, enhance productivity, support good sleep quality and provide appropriate visual acuity…all achievable with the right lighting.

Similarly, the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is a sustainability assessment method used in infrastructure and building projects. BREEAM sets standards for the environmental performance of buildings, focusing on sustainable value across a range of categories, including energy usage, health and wellbeing. Again, LED and connected lighting systems can hugely influence both factors, reducing energy usage (and the associated costs), while improving employee wellbeing and satisfaction.

All of the above clearly illustrates why the role of lighting within the modern built environment cannot be underestimated. It goes far beyond just illumination to positively impact the sustainability score of a building, to provide the technology backbone of a modern age connected building, and in being a positive influence on human health. The possibilities really are endless.