Switching on to savings

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Lighting upgrades are one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to improve a building’s environmental performance while delivering cost savings to tenants, writes Beck Dawson, general manager of Corporate Sustainability, Investa Office.

With efficiency savings and corporate responsibility continuing to be paramount for both businesses
and landlords, organisations are implementing further improvements to building operations and the fixtures and fittings inside them.

Lighting upgrades are one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to improve a building’s environmental performance, while delivering cost savings to tenants.

There are three main areas where efficiencies and cost savings can be achieved with lighting upgrades: lower energy fittings that reduce the cost of energy bills, longer life bulbs to reduce call-out and personnel maintenance and replacement costs, and finally the use of controls and timers to reduce
the number of hours of lighting in peak and off peak times, contributing to lower energy bills.

Investa Office has upgraded a number of older buildings in recent years through refurbishments and tenant incentives, to significantly improve lighting efficiency for tenants. As a result, many now operate at energy efficiency levels on par with new, Green Star-rated buildings. In many cases, energy savings in excess of $100,000 per year in the lighting of common areas of individual buildings have been achieved.

There is often a tension between transforming older buildings or knocking down to build new; however, investment in Building Maintenance Systems (BMS) controls and plant and equipment can transform the way an entire building operates. Giving building operators more sophisticated building management tools enables the people in building teams to more effectively monitor and modify building operations to actively manage energy performance.

Key areas of attention include using timer settings to fine- tune hours of operation, such as when the foyer or car park traffic is regular, improving the sophistication of timer settings to match demand throughout the weeks and seasons or installing sensor lighting systems.

Sensor lights deliver better value in building areas where employees are inconsistently using office spaces during office hours. A boardroom, for example, will have different use patterns throughout the day and over a week, so sensor controls reduce the total hours of use, saving operating costs. Sensor lighting is also ‘set-and-forget’, giving tenants an easy option for doing the right thing, without employee effort or engagement. An example is the upgrade undertaken by Investa of the now 24-year-old building at 260 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. The building was substantially refurbished
by Investa Office in 2009/10 with major works including the installation of low-glare low-energy lighting and sophisticated lighting controls to common areas and tenancy space.

By offering the Investa Sustainability Incentive to tenants, businesses in the building have been able to reduce the overall cost of operating their tenancy space and improve the indoor lighting quality for their staff.

In 2013, this building was the City of Sydney’s best performing base building by age, achieving a NABERS Energy rating of 5.5 stars without the use of Green Power, well above the city’s 3-star average.

Lighting remains a rich opportunity for improvement in the sustainability and financial performance of commercial buildings in Australia. It may not be news, but there is no substitute for attention to detail in lighting investments and active management to transform underperforming tenancies and assets.

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