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Royal Mail sees 66% energy cut following LED upgrade

Royal mail delivers on energy savings: LEDs are replacing predominantly fluorescent T8 fittings

Royal Mail has slashed its lighting costs by two thirds with a multi-site LED rollout, the organisation’s engineering boss told LuxLive.

With 160,000 employees, Royal Mail is one of the biggest employers in the UK, and currently operates 1,787 buildings. Just 70 of these consume about as much energy as the remaining 1,717, engineering and technical services manager John Bradshaw explained. Buildings as a whole account for about a third of Royal Mail’s carbon footprint, with fleet and transport making up most of the rest.

Bradshaw spoke of the organisation’s target to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, from a baseline set in 2013. But Royal Mail faces many challenges, he told delegates, including rising energy prices, the age of its estate and concerns about legislation. 

“When we started, the quality of our energy data was poor,” Bradshaw said. With largely manual processes, the Royal Mail therefore set about trying to identify energy saving and technological opportunities while keeping in mind the mantra that: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.

The idea was that this focus on granular reporting would allow Royal Mail to understand its consumption prior to planning any interventions. 

And now, it can boast 24/7 real-time reporting on energy usage, which enables constant improvements and early detection of faults. 

We spent six months optimising sites and engaging with end users – asking whether lighting levels were right”

John Bradshaw

The Royal Mail’s buildings were using considerable energy for lighting as well as for automation and processing and cooling, he said. A further challenge was the age of the estate, which meant that the lighting was predominantly fluorescent T8 fittings. 

The replacement LED fittings and lamps, with controls including daylight harvesting, dimming and presence control, was delivered initially across 16 mail centres throughout the UK. “By March 2016, 60 per cent of our mail centres will have LED,” announced Bradshaw, who predicted ‘great benefits’ by the end of this financial year. 

Contractor relationships are critically important, he added, and while responsibility was given to contractors to guarantee savings, independent verification was also required. “The challenge is to measure and verify savings,” he said – across mail centres with some 200,000m2 of operational floor area, operating 24 hours a day. 

It was crucial to assess baseline consumption as well as measure the impact post-installation. “We spent six months optimising sites and engaging with end users – asking whether lighting levels were right,” said Bradshaw.

The organisation’s board is very pleased with the 66 per cent energy reduction, Bradshaw said, and will continue to invest in LED lighting. The savings have been optimised thanks to an understanding of shift patterns and occupancy, he added.

Royal Mail’s lighting is now much brighter and the organisation has received excellent feedback from staff as well as considerable maintenance benefits. Furthermore, after replacing more than 32,000 fluorescent fittings with 13,000 LEDs, the failure rate has been “negligible”, and the system is designed to be futureproof.

The project is expected to pay for itself in less than four years. “It’s had a really big impact,” Bradshaw concluded.