Low-cost solutions for lighting energy savings

by FM Media

How low-cost solutions were used to produce easy-to-use, effective opportunities in energy efficiency at CBRE’s Adelaide office, which won a state CitySwitch Award, is revealed by DAVID LOW of CBRE.

To further reduce its environmental footprint CBRE, is focusing on both the external and the internal operations of its tenancies. One office in particular, located at 151 Pirie Street in Adelaide, is seeing good results following a recent lighting retrofit and collaboration efforts with the building owner, and won a state CitySwitch Award late last year. The CitySwitch South Australia Awards judging panel praised the team at CBRE for using low-cost solutions to produce “easy-to-use, effective opportunities in energy efficiency”.

The work at our Adelaide office is supported by CBRE’s national monitoring of the ongoing performance of all 28 offices around Australia. We have comprehensive energy reduction programs in place to support our behavioural change campaigns and modification to day-to-day business operations.
In 2010, we rolled out our national ‘Toward a Greener Tomorrow’ program, which is a baseline sustainability survey of our existing facilities and sustainable practices across the region. In 2011, we built on this existing data and conducted NABERS Energy ratings and energy audits across all of our major offices. These audits reviewed existing lighting and power infrastructure, and identified opportunities to achieve energy efficiency improvements. During the last 12 months, CBRE has taken major steps to improve the energy efficiency of several offices across Australia.
CBRE’s Adelaide office was already a high performer with a five-and-a-half-star NABERS Energy tenancy rating (without GreenPower). We were, however, in search of more space to accommodate a growing company. Ideally, we wanted a more flexible and open working environment to ensure better interaction between departments and our lease was soon to expire, so we decided to move. It was also a priority for us to move to a high-performing base building that had green credentials and an improved indoor environment.
So, at the end of 2011, we moved to the four-star Green Star, five-star NABERS Energy rated 151 Pirie Street building – Adelaide’s first Green Star – Office Design v1 rated building. While built to be a high performing building, by this stage the fitout was already seven years old. And, with technology moving so quickly, and systems becoming quickly superseded, it’s an ongoing challenge to keep up.
Following the move, future proofing and maintaining the NABERS component of our building’s performance was one of our top priorities. In order to keep up with technology and optimise our energy efficiency, we undertook a review of the lighting and lighting control system within the new office, as this is one of the major energy consumption areas within a tenancy space.

Lighting was a key focus and as a first step we installed occupancy sensors in all meeting rooms, with energy savings predicted at around 150 kWh (kilowatts per hour) per annum. We also instigated an LED upgrade within the ground floor foyer and the lift foyers. Although part of base building operations, as we are the building manager as well as the tenant, we were in a position to work closely with the owner to optimise the energy efficiency of this space.
We also worked with our night cleaners to ensure that all lights are switched off as soon as they finish cleaning the tenancy – this is a simple, zero cost action that makes a big difference. Other initiatives included resetting our thermostat in the server room from 22 to 25 degrees Celsius, ensuring further energy savings of approximately 1400 kWh per annum and the introduction of a swipe card system on our main printer.
The relocation to new premises involved an increase in floor area of 194 square metres or 25 percent. As a result, our energy consumption for the Adelaide office increased over the last 12 months by 24,100 kWh and our costs increased by $7952; however, the NABERS rating is still five stars.
In the future, we are aiming to replace halogen downlights in the hallways of the base building and replace the large incandescents in the tenancy foyer and the kitchen with LEDs or remove them. In addition, we plan to evaluate the economics of modifying the tenancy luminaires with single lamp (T5) fittings.

The advice I would give others considering a lighting upgrade is:

  1. Ensure you have a benchmark. Without a benchmark of performance, you cannot effectively monitor and, therefore, manage energy use. Thus, as a first step, undertaking a NABERS rating should be considered.
  2. Assess tenancy lighting levels. Check if the building owner has obtained a Building Energy Efficiency Certificate for the tenancy. As part of the Commercial Building Disclosure scheme, this assessment of a tenancy’s lighting levels (compared to watts per square metre best practice) will help with the assessment of the scope of a lighting upgrade.
  3. Ensure the lighting upgrade is design-led. It’s important to ensure any lighting upgrade is design-led, not technology-led and complies with the relevant standards and codes.
  4. Check if the project is eligible for one of the number of government grants that are on offer – the more informed you are, the better.

As CBRE manages the 151 Pirie Street building, we also took the opportunity to make improvements to base building emissions and energy consumption. One of the key projects we advocated for, and implemented on behalf of the building owner was the installation of 36-kilowatt photovoltaic panels (PV) on the roof, which generate over 52,000 kilowatt hours of zero emission electricity for the base building. This has resulted in a contribution of 10 percent of the total base building electricity load.
In addition, an issue was identified with solar gain to one façade and a strategy developed with the cleaning contractor whereby the cleaners now automatically lower blinds to one face at the end of each day. Not only does this provide more comfortable conditions, but, by avoiding the 5am to 8am heat gain, it also assists in lowering the base building cooling load without any capital cost.
Our Sustainable IT program has also enhanced energy efficiency, while also reducing paper waste, enabling greater connectivity and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. During the last year, we reviewed our auto-hibernation settings, decreasing the inactive time before a laptop or PC hibernates, which has resulted in significantly lower energy use.
Furthermore, all new laptops are now pre-programmed to optimal energy saver settings prior to distribution to staff. New energy-saving multifunction devices offices with ‘Follow Me’ printing capability have been rolled out and, in the new Sydney workplace, we are introducing video-conferencing facilities to reduce the need to travel between cities and enhance collaboration.
At an infrastructure level, CBRE has undertaken a server virtualisation program and rationalised server rooms as part of various office moves. The renewal of ageing services to server rooms is expected to show energy saving benefits over the next 12 months.
We are constantly looking for opportunities to get to a five-and-a-half NABERS Energy rating. That’s our immediate goal.

David Low is CBRE’s South Australian sustainability manager.

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