The carbon footprint for the NHS England now stands at a massive 21 million tonnes a year. To address this The Department of Health has set an ambitious target of a 10 per cent reduction by 2015 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.
Lighting accounts for anywhere between 10-20 per cent of a hospital’s total energy bill and when set against a backdrop of increasing fuel costs, reducing expenditure on this resource can appear to be an insurmountable task. However, the introduction and innovative use of light emitting diode (LED) emergency lighting has already resulted in significant savings for some forward thinking health estate managers.
Correctly specified, installed and maintained emergency lighting plays a vital role in keeping the occupants of a building safe from the potentially deadly consequences of a failure in the general lighting. While a traditional system is often just left in ‘standby’ mode until it is needed, the flexibility of a modern LED based system means that it can also be used as a secondary source of lighting – one that is far more cost effective than using the mains equivalent.
LED luminaires produce less than five per cent of the carbon emissions of fluorescent lighting and this allows operating costs to be kept to a minimum without compromising efficiency. They also operate via functional extra low voltage (FELV) power, meaning that a mains electricity supply does not have to be run to every luminaire, which vastly reduces the amount of wiring associated with 230V cabling.
As well as energy efficiency, an LED emergency lighting system offers enhanced levels of control. At particular times of the day when certain areas may have a much lower footfall, it can be used to provide general lighting via one of seven different levels of illumination. As each luminaire can be controlled independently, areas of a building can be lit where and when necessary, for example, residents in a care home can have low-level lighting overnight in their rooms.
The use of low-level lighting can also enhance security, giving the impression that areas that are in fact closed are occupied. It is also possible to have a separate switch so that the emergency lighting system can be activated to provide light at a pre-determined level to assist manned security patrols.
While lighting can be controlled via timers and light levels configured to suit particular requirements, in the event of an alarm situation the system will resort back to its primary use and adjust the light levels accordingly.
Although reducing energy consumption is a formidable challenge, the savings possible by using LED based emergency lighting are significant and can go long way in helping healthcare estate managers achieve their carbon reduction targets.