Comment, Industrial

Time to overcome resistance to retrofit lighting

The retrofit option - get past the short-term hassle and you'll reap big long-term benefits

Modern LED light fittings can cut costs for all kinds of businesses – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of resistance to retrofit installations.

Greenlite decided to gauge the interest of several hundred companies in the possibility of replacing old, primarily fluorescent lighting fittings with new, efficient LED ones. The emphasis was on retrofit installations that were quick, easy and undemanding to install and operate. We worked out that one firm could halve its £520,000 annual energy bill by replacing fluorescent fittings with LED equivalents.

Making a case for retrofit based on energy bill reduction is not necessarily effective”

Some could immediately see the value of this transition, but a significant number were more resistant. But in many cases, the practical long-term disadvantages of not converting to LED lighting technology are likely to be far greater than the short-term inconvenience of the transition.

But can the more resistant respondents really afford the downtime that will result from a lighting system failure?

It seems that making a case for retrofit around energy bill reduction is not necessarily effective. Indeed, a surprising number of companies were unable to even provide an estimate of their energy bills.

Another challenge is tackling the possible indifference of some in-house electrical and engineering personnel, who may feel threatened by the intervention of an outside company. Critical to our case, therefore, is an explanation that not only are we not there to undermine their positions, we have been enlisted to make their working lives easier.

In the longer run, regulatory impulses such as the UK’s legally binding requirement to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 will surely be a spur to action by businesses across the board. But in the shorter term, highlighting the potential costs of production downtime as a result of lighting failures can pay a significant part in disrupting the ‘circle of inertia’ on energy efficiency.


Bob Hall is managing director of Greenlite



  • This special Lux conference for Facilities Managers is taking place on Thursday 19 May 2016 at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. Entry is free to specifiers including facility managers, consulting engineers, estate managers, energy managers and others responsible for the management of lighting installations and their specification. 
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