New report illustrates massive advantages to sustainable lighting in hospitals

A new report shows £540m has been invested over eight years in technologies such as LED lighting, insulation and better energy control in UK hospitals.

And, £1.85bn has been saved over that time; with £190m cut off the 2016 NHS energy bill.

The figures are electrifying. Rarely before has such concrete evidence on the benefits of sustainable light in the healthcare sector been available.

The paper, ‘Securing healthy returns; Realising the financial value of sustainable development,’ should come as a clarion wake up call to energy managers nationwide. It proves unequivocably why energy efficient technologies; both lighting and others, must play a central role in the future of the NHS.

NHS energy efficiency, the urgent call to action

The analysis follows on from the Carter Review. This identified potential efficiencies in NHS hospitals worth up to £1.3bn and included interventions with environmental co-benefits such as improved energy efficiency.

David Pencheon, Director, Sustainable Development Unit, said: “We know that the NHS and health sector is facing its greatest financial challenge, and we need to seize every opportunity to realise savings and efficiencies.

“This report and supporting resources help organisations to identify opportunities that can save money now and have a positive environmental effect, which will save money and improve health, now and in the future.”

The vast savings available

The paper estimates an average sized hospital with 3,000 staff, performing 60,000 operations a year could save up to £2.2m and cut 3,000 tonnes of carbon per year; the same as taking 1,300 cars off the road annually.

High efficiency lighting, lighting controls and boiler plant optimisation are all among measures recommended in the report, and are all measures supplied by Energys Group.

“We are delighted to see concrete evidence behind what we’ve long known to be the case, the major argument for essential energy efficiency improvements in hospitals,” says Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group.

“This report is a tremendous piece of work, because it highlights just how valuable an energy efficient approach is, not only in terms of cost savings, but in terms of mitigating carbon and delivering more holistic healthcare too.”

Cox cites a commitment the NHS has already made, detailed in the report; ‘The NHS is committed to providing best value for taxpayers’ money – it is committed to providing the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources,’ reads NHS Constitution Commitment 6.

“This promise must be seen through,” Cox demands. “We’re truly excited to be on the precipice of a new sustainable era in UK healthcare. Energys Group stands ready and proud to deliver the efficient technologies, like lighting and boiler optimisation, that will revolutionise UK hospitals.”

The final word

“In addition to the legal and scientific reasons for taking sustainable development and climate change seriously, there are equally important financial and organisational reasons for action,” concludes Michael Brodie, Finance and Commercial Director, Public Health England

“In PHE, we have already saved millions of pounds and reduced our carbon footprint by rationalising processes and estate.”

Energys checks the vibe on the Brexit mood barometer

By any standards, the UK’s vote to leave the EU represents a watershed in European history.

Originally conceived to prevent future wars and unify Europe economically, the EU has since been accused of lack of transparency and burdensome red tape. Equally it has created a viable path to low carbon and some of the most progressive environmental legislation on Earth.

Now, we are all wondering what the future looks like for the low carbon economy in a Brexit world.  One thing’s for sure, the green tech sector is taking up its positions. We find out what’s the mood in the low carbon camp?

Low carbon leaders set out their stall

“Over the coming months we all need to demand that the government replaces European regulations protecting nature with new UK laws that are just as strong,” John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK, told EDIE.

“Leaving the EU is likely to put an upwards pressure on energy bills, partly due to the direct financial costs of Brexit and also the impact of reduced investor confidence,” argued Richard Black, Director, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

“The referendum vote in favour of the UK leaving the EU raises significant questions for businesses, professionals and the wider public on environmental protection policy. 

“In establishing the UK’s future direction, Government must develop progressive policies for the UK to transition to a low carbon, resource efficient and sustainable economy which delivers real social value over the long-term,” said Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor, IEMA.

“European environmental policies provide business opportunities to UK firms to become market leaders in the development of new technologies.

“A total withdrawal with no EEA membership would lead to significant risk [of] both rising energy costs and security of supply,” reasons Melanie Kendall-Reid, Compliance Director, CARBON2018.

Business shocked at future outside EU

Business Green gathered some more candid industry reaction:

“Voters have made their views known on Britain’s future out of Europe. We respect that democratic decision of course, but it leaves me shocked, disappointed and extremely concerned about the future of environmental protections in the UK,” said ClientEarth Chief Executive James Thornton.

“Showing its commitment to the Climate Change Act by adopting the fifth carbon budget and a robust carbon plan to deliver it and making rapid progress on a 25 year plan to improve the state of the UK’s natural environment must now be essential priorities for the government,” comments Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group.

“About 70% of our environmental safeguards and legislation is European legislation – and this is now at risk,” Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth, told The Guardian.

“Early indications are that 70% of 18-25 year olds, the generation of voters most affected by the environment crisis, voted to remain.

“Friends of the Earth believes passionately in democracy, and we will now strive with all our might to make Brexit work for the environment. But we’re going to be doing it from the grassroots up.”

What might the future hold?

For low carbon, energy efficient businesses, Bennett’s remarks in particular seem prescient. The task for sustainable industry is now to lobby at the very highest level, to ensure the overarching UK environmental laws and protections developed thus far aren’t eroded.

To achieve this will be a lot of work. Disparate sectors, leaders and even a disparate UK society, polarised by age and demographic, must somehow pull together.

But for industry, environment and voters of both sides a cohesive effort forwards, protecting green jobs and the green, circular economy of tomorrow is needed.




Brightening minds; why good quality light is pivotal to students’ health, wellbeing and learning

  • Studies show air quality, light and temperature account for half of the total impacts on academic performance
  • Optimised lighting aids concentration in lessons, and pupil wellbeing
  • New lighting technology can play a crucial role when daylight is lacking

To nurture future generations, there are few things more important than creating the right kind of learning environment – and lighting is a major part of this. Adding sustainability into the mix saves carbon, adds learning potential and safeguards our future planet.

Finding new ways to deliver the best learning environment remains a constant challenge. 2015 research from Salford University found the layout, construction and decoration of classes had a significant impact on reading, writing and maths.

But the data also showed natural light, temperature, air quality and individualised classroom design were especially important. Indeed air quality, light and temperature account for half of the total impacts on academic performance.

“Humans are essentially animals, and their brains respond well to good natural conditions,” Professor Barrett, the man behind the research explained. His words point to a simple fact; people and children are happier in well lit, relaxing schools and offices, not bright, stark places with no control over light volumes or levels.

The Salford research doesn’t stand alone. ‘The right light in the morning, that has sufficient brightness with higher components of blue, can help to get you ready for the day,’ argues a Lighting For People paper on the benefits of lighting and wellbeing in education.

‘Especially in education, a conscious mind is important for good concentration during lessons. It doesn’t matter if the person is an elementary scholar or a student. Both can benefit from an optimised lighting environment in a direct or indirect way,’ it concludes.

There’s yet more evidence available. ‘Good lighting is crucial for occupant satisfaction, and our understanding of the health and wellbeing benefits of light is growing all the time,’ confirms a World Green Building Council report on health and wellbeing.

‘Further innovations in low carbon lighting design will be crucial,’ it claims. The evidence base suggests delivering more sustainable, healthier light, and ensuring calmer, more productive children within our schools must count among today’s key priorities for UK education as a whole.

The opportunities of sustainable light in education

Natural light is always best, and always the most sustainable, making clean and modern windows and blind systems essential. But when natural light is lacking, for example on dark days or in poorly designed legacy buildings, new lighting technology has a crucial role to play.

In these circumstances, LED alternatives ensure that pupils have the best light levels, the right colour gradients and the cooler temperatures modern solutions provide.

The search for practical improvements to legacy lighting suggests schools should be appointing lighting providers that, first and foremost, understand the issues. This drive should come from the top down.

After all, both education and lighting are complex. The modern school features many competing drivers, performance standards and benchmarking measures. Among all these, it is easy for lighting to lose advantage. Management level guidance is required.

The challenge is plain. If school leaders overlook lighting improvements in the race to tick boxes, schools will miss easy opportunities to improve learning, results, happiness and day to day school life.

Ironically, these are the very metrics inspectors use to rate schools’ performance. The right lights will contribute across every facet of school life; sustainability, low carbon and productivity. In the competition for management time and funding, it’s never been more critical that lighting doesn’t lose out.

The next stage in the education lighting revolution

rsz_hackney_ccHackney Community College supports over 9,000 students each year from its award-winning Shoreditch campus. Seeking kinder, more beneficial light, it has converted 4,900 lamps to LED. The project forms part of a major energy efficiency upgrade, and will pay for itself in just over 2.5 years.

The conversion included the retrofit of 335 fluorescent tubes to LED in the sports hall. This resulted in a dramatic improvement in overall quality and a pleasant daylight colour; precisely the improvements needed to catalyse happiness, learning and energy.

“We made a point of helping the College achieve the optimum colour temperature and glare, the latter being particularly important in the sports hall and ICT rooms,” explains Energys Business Development Manager Raj Gunasekaran, the man behind the LED installation.

“As has been well documented at this stage, these factors can be a decisive influence on pupil concentration and the overall comfort of pupils and teachers.”

The final word

A combination of retrofits on unsuitable legacy lighting, and smart control systems to control blinds and windows for sunlight and fresh air are among the simplest first steps. Then, it is up to individual schools and estates to choose how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Above all, one truth is plain. Natural light and modern LEDs can revolutionise children’s happiness and intelligence. Combined with the sustainability benefits, lower costs and learning add ons, the lighting lesson must be taken on board.

Energys has helped hundreds of schools enjoy the benefits of new lighting technology. Read our case studies for more information on how we work.