Exploring how the very-latest energy-efficient lighting solutions are helping NHS trusts to reduce their carbon footprint
Earlier this year the Government set the NHS a target to be ‘carbon zero’ by 2050.
Britain is the first major nation to make these targets official after the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change recommended the new objective back in May.
Currently the NHS is responsible for 4% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions; so it is imperative healthcare organisations pursue opportunities for carbon reduction and cost savings.
And Alexandra Hammond, director of sustainability at ETL, said low-energy lighting solutions should be top of the list of interventions.
She adds: “The UK healthcare sector has had some success in driving sustainability programmes over the past few years.
“However unwavering constraints on funding, time and resource means quick-wins like lighting projects must stay top of the agenda.
“Lighting is more than a function, particularly within the healthcare sector.
The wrong lighting can compromise the healing environment, reduce staff morale, and cost more than it should.
“Efficient lighting solutions like LEDs are a speedy, risk-free way of starting to meet the UK’s net zero 2050 carbon reduction target.”
Modern LED lights last longer, save money, and create a better environment for healing, as well as enabling staff to better perform their day-to-day tasks.
LEDs also use less electricity to achieve equivalent lighting levels; with clients achieving reductions of over 70% in energy use and spend.
Efficient lighting solutions like LEDs are a speedy, risk-free way of starting to meet the UK’s net zero 2050 carbon reduction target
In addition, cooling loads are reduced as LEDs emit very-little heat and reduce the need for air conditioning.
Hammond advises: “Don’t let the fear of borrowing capital to invest in lighting solutions stop you.
“Generally, savings from implementing the right lighting technology pay back in under five years.
Modern LEDs use less electricity to achieve equivalent lighting levels; with clients achieving reductions of over 70% in energy use and spend
“And lighting projects can move swiftly - they have very short procurement timelines, and funding is readily available to support projects end to end.”
For instance, through its dedicated lighting framework, ETL runs a robust mini competition in just four weeks.
“Timescales depend on the preparedness of organisations, but cost savings can be achieved almost immediately,” Hammond said.
“We support trusts with all elements of applying for, and achieving, funding. We can prepare Salix loan applications on our clients’ behalf at no risk to the NHS trust.”
She adds: “Avoid putting the project off by knowing where to start.
“It is important to collate your building and energy information.
“First, identify a list of the buildings and works to be considered for your lighting project.
“And remember that, with LEDs, you have the ability to dim, which is useful in certain applications, such as MRI rooms.
“Dimming also provides a more-soothing environment for patients.”
Lighting suppliers can often provide complimentary, no-obligation surveys of sites to scope requirements and provide guidance on best practice.
“There is no one type of lighting project,” said Hammond.
“Available options include controls, emergency lighting, design, supply and/or installation, as well as intelligent lighting systems.”
She advises using ready-made procurement routes, such as ETL’s Lighting Framework, which are specifically designed to help tackle the cost of compliance.
The LEDs will improve patient environments, contribute to their safety through the reduction of errors, enable better clinical interventions and outcomes, and improve staff wellbeing and productivity
“Time and resource constraints mean healthcare lighting projects often fall off priority lists; and this is a problem ETL’s sustainability team seeks to resolve,” said Hammond.
“We own the process on behalf of organisations to alleviate the pressure of sourcing funding and gathering data for the lighting project.
“And our lighting framework enables trusts to quickly procure technology with proven efficiency benefits and establish a guaranteed energy or cost saving from which a business case can be secured.”
She adds: “Remember to always measure for success.
“ETL’s supply chain can measure and report on savings delivered by lighting solutions.
“And suppliers are responsible throughout the payback period for reporting on the performance of lighting measures and ensuring internal stakeholders are assured of the value achieved.”
Recently, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust worked with ETL’s sustainability team to apply for NHS Improvement Energy Efficiency Funding (NEEF) to enable a switch to energy-efficient lighting.
The funding was used to procure approximately 6,000 LED lights which are currently being installed across its hospitals, including in sensitive patient areas.
Previously, the trust had a variety of fluorescent lighting, such as tubes, bulkheads and downlights.
It decided to move to LEDs because they have a longer lifespan than traditional lighting solutions of over seven years, lower energy consumption, and reduced maintenance costs, as well as offering the ability to include controls. There is also a safety element in that LEDs emit almost no heat.
“We expect numerous benefits to patients, staff and visitors,” comments Samuel Willitts, energy and sustainability manager at the trust.
Time and resource constraints mean healthcare lighting projects often fall off priority lists
“The LEDs will improve patient environments, contribute to their safety through the reduction of errors, enable better clinical interventions and outcomes, and improve staff wellbeing and productivity.”
The scheme is expected to reduce energy consumption by approximately 1,600,000 kWh; saving approximately £245,000 on energy bills a year.
That translates to a 72% reduction in carbon, and a payback of 1.5 years.