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LED lights for schools – an estate manager’s guide

According to the Carbon Trust, getting lighting right is essential for both energy efficiency and the bank balance of a school, and as importantly for the wellbeing of its occupants.

In the third of this special series of lighting in education guides, Energys will explore how LED upgrades create financial benefits, but can also help with site operations, maintenance, and offer infrastructure gains for school estate managers.

Most estate managers know that efficient LED upgrades save on bills and the environment. But, the right level and the best quality of light is crucial to alertness, accuracy and the overall enjoyment of those working and learning in schools too, as well as minimising work on the estates themselves.

Reduced maintenance

Extensive trials by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) have found that LEDs comprehensively lower the cost of maintenance.

‘LEDs had an additional cost-benefit because of their reduced maintenance costs and their much longer operating life span,’ explains the EST research.

‘LED lamps therefore have the additional benefits of reducing waste volumes and conserving production resources due to less frequent maintenance and replacement.’

EST found that LED retrofit technologies could easily be installed by existing maintenance staff in place of the old fittings, and their longer lifetime leads to additional savings from avoiding the costs of replacement lamps and the maintenance time to fit them.

Avoiding WEEE lamp disposal costs

As mentioned above, EST has found LEDs reduce waste volumes due to less frequent maintenance and replacement. This has another crucial knock on effect; the highly costly disposal process for conventional lamps is completely avoided.

The costs of disposing conventional lamps in line with WEEE recycling legislation are significant. Estimates suggest up to 30% of the original cost, per lamp, can be required to dispose of them safely. Educational buildings often use several thousand lamps, adding up to vast overall costs, time and work.

LED retrofit technologies offer a much longer lifespan, therefore delivering huge disposal savings across the upgrade over time. In a nutshell, LEDs last far longer, and have far lower disposal impacts across the board than the alternatives.

Health and safety

As LEDs use solid state technology, they have no moving parts, no glass and no filament breakage. This has crucial implications for health and safety.

With older fluorescent lamps, maintenance operatives must carry broken lamp boxes, use kevlar gloves, and keep a keen eye out for broken glass. It’s dangerous work, especially so in a school environment where it’s vital no broken glass is left on floors or playgrounds.

Contrastingly, LEDs are to all practical purposes a simple circuit board. Easy, quick, fast and safe to install, maintain and remove.

Energy savings

EST’s research found, ‘There was considerable potential for achieving energy savings,’ through LED retrofits. In one example, EST found lighting a site using LEDs over a five-year period could cost over £150,000 less, not only due to reduced energy bills, but also savings on replacing existing lamps.

EST also found energy savings in excess of 1.2GWh per year are possible at some sites, generating lifetime CO2 savings of over 4,000 tonnes.

Every site and school is different, so EST’s results should not be extrapolated directly. But the message is plain; LEDs represent a simple, fast option for energy saving upgrades for schools.

The shift to LED

Energys has a number of case studies on LED lighting upgrades for schools and colleges available. These will help you learn more, and consider the best way to embed sustainable, futurist and beneficial lights in your environment.

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