We’ve all been shouted at: ‘turn the lights out when you’re out of room’. ‘Why is the tap running?’ ‘Put it in the recycling bin’. All well and good for the individual in their own home. But what happens when you scale up to a commercial building with hundreds or thousands of occupants? As you look up at commercial buildings anywhere in the world, lit up like a forest of Christmas trees, you could be forgiven for believing that people are working in these towers 24/7. They are not.
There is one area where the CRE sector can make immediate change. Of course, lighting is only one piece of the puzzle, but it’s an important one in progressing our focus on NetZero goals. Many buildings are already making changes and seeing the impacts, with some cities making it a fundamental requirement. It shows that rapid change is possible, and that widespread innovation is a core solution to the climate crisis.
Right now, there are currently five main types of lighting used with commercial buildings – incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent (CFL), halogen, and LED. Incandescent and halogen lights work very similarly, where a metal filament is sealed inside a glass bulb. Fluorescent lights (including their compact counterparts) use mercury-vapour to produce ultraviolet light.
But there is a shining star: LED.
LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, release light in the form of photons as current flows through the diode. First produced in 1962, LEDs are now the leading light source in buildings, being expected to make up 87% of lighting sources by 2030. The market for LEDs is growing rapidly, and is estimated to be worth $75.3 billion this year, and $151 billion by 2027.
LED lights are seen as the optimal lighting option for buildings for a wide number of reasons. Their lifespan is much longer than other light sources, for example, with LEDs lasting anywhere between 35,000 to 50,000 hours compared to the 750-2000 hours of incandescent lights and the 24,000-36,000 hours of fluorescent lights. LEDs also produce significantly less heat than their lighting counterparts, making them safer to handle and far more durable.
Where LEDs really take the leading position, however, is in energy efficiency. LED lights have a very high lumen output per watt of electricity they require. On average, a 6 watt LED produces the same luminosity as a 40 watt incandescent bulb, meaning that far fewer LEDs are needed to provide adequate lighting to a space. Upgrading building lighting to LEDs can reduce lighting costs by up to 70%.
Going further, if digital controls, which dim lights in response to environmental stimuli, are implemented, another 10-20% can be slashed from energy costs. Similarly, buildings can adopt other implementations such as passive infrared sensors (PIRSs), which detect occupants and make sure that lights aren’t switched on in entirely empty buildings.
With LEDs having such an impact in cutting energy costs, it’s no surprise that they’re making waves in real estate. This has even reached the point of rapid change on a city-wide scale. In early July, the Californian city of Sonoma completed the switch to LED lighting across all city-owned buildings. The switch has not only made the city’s lighting safer, by removing the mercury incorporated with the previous fluorescent lights but has significantly cut labour costs and is aiding in the city’s journey to achieving NetZero targets.
One of the PropTech companies delivering innovation and change that we work with us is Concept UK Ltd, who are happy to deliver free electrical audits to ascertain all aspects of what we have discussed in this article. With electricity prices literally going through the roof, the installation of LED lighting can save up to 70% of electricity bills. There has never been a better time to install.