LEDs brighten up offices at Dept. of Energy and Climate Change

Here's one for the practise what you preach file: The government's energy department has replaced the lighting in its London headquarters building with efficient LEDs which it says are indeed cutting electricity consumption and that have also improved brightness.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) pulled out the fluorescent T5 lighting that had been illuminating the office spaces at 3 Whitehall Place and swapped Philips LEDs into around 1,300 fittings across 8 floors.

'Compared to retrofits in most comparable buildings, which tend to use relatively inefficient T8 tubes, the energy savings are slightly lower,' DECC said in its own case study. 'However they are very significant.'

T5 fluorescents and LEDs offer similar energy saving advantages. Facilities managers often opt for T5s because they cost less.

But DECC said the LEDs are saving energy for among other reasons because they include a 'localised control system' that turns lights off in a vacant room and that dims them – down to 5 percent – as daylight increases.

DECC installed the lights over 26 days in March in a £401,000 project with Philips and engineering contractor Skanska Rashleigh Weatherfoil. Around the same time, it also upgraded the building's heating and cooling system. Between the two, energy consumption has declined by around 25-to-30 percent, the bulk of which DECC attributed to the lighting system.

'Moreover there are additional savings to be had from the switch to LED lighting in the form of lower maintenance costs – it is claimed that LED luminaires typically last 5 times as long as the fluorescent equivalent,' DECC said.

It forecasts annual energy savings of about £22,000, or £29,000 including maintenance.

The refurbishment coincides with the government's recently announced UK Lighting Sector Strategy, which aims to cut energy consumption and boost innovation in lighting (click here for a full interview with former Energy Minister Michael Fallon on the plan).

The overhaul has had other benefits. A DECC spokeswoman said it has boosted brightness by 100 lux. She noted that in response to a questionnaire, 71 percent of the workers at 3 Whitehall reported that the LEDs improved the lighting in their workspace.

Maybe they'll be able to see clearly now and devise an energy strategy that will keep the lights on in Britain for at least the next decade.

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Photo: Brighthall Place. LED fixtures at DECC's 3 Whitehall Place headquarters in London. Image is from DECC.

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