Lighting Industry

Lighting firm plants its 150,000th tree to offset energy

A number of saplings on a remote hillside
Saplings planted at Thorlux Lighting’s tree plantation in Wales are designed to neutralise the CO2 emissions from lighting installations all over the UK.

THORLUX Lighting has planted its 150,000th tree at its unique carbon offsetting programme in rural Wales.

The Redditch-based luminaire maker achieved the milestone this week at its 215-acre site in Devauden, Monmouthshire.

The saplings –  native broadleaf species including oak, birch, ash, willow, hornbeam and cherry – are designed to neutralise the CO2 emissions from lighting installations all over the UK. 

‘We once had a customer that did carbon offsetting using trees,’ explains managing director Mike Allcock.

‘It was set to plant 100 trees to compensate for a lighting installation, but because we supplied a very efficient scheme, this was reduced to 20 trees.

‘Then we started thinking, how could we get rid of the last 20 trees? That’s when we came up with the idea of planting our own trees. And since then we’ve really gone to town on it.’

The company paid £1 million for Devauden in 2009, receiving a 50 per cent grant from the Forestry Commission.

‘It sounds easy to plant a tree,’ says the company’s managing director Mike Allcock, ‘but it’s not. He has had to hire a silviculturalist (a tree expert) to manage the whole process.

‘The process of sequestering the CO2 in a tree can take 100 years, so we encourage our customers to use the most efficient lighting possible and then offset the remainder [of the carbon].’

The statistics are startling: over half a kilogram of carbon dioxide is released for every kilowatt hour of electricity used, so a 250W fluorescent luminaire, operating around the clock, will produce one tonne of carbon dioxide every year. 

To put it into context, a tonne of CO2 is one million pints of the stuff. ‘It’s a huge amount of CO2,’ says Allcock. ‘So to offset that light you need to have a tree in the ground for 100 years.’

A typical sports hall luminaires could be offset by planting 10 trees a year. Each tree will offset about one tonne of CO2, or approximately 1,900KWh of electricity.

Thorlux quotes for luminaires prices include quotes for carbon offsetting using the company’s trees at Devauden.

Customers who opt for the carbon offsetting scheme receive an email detailing the trees they have purchased and the location of the site. 

Thorlux encourages its customers to visit Devauden – and has recently built a visitor centre there to explain the process.

Children – some from schools using Thorlux luminaires – are regular visitors to the site to see the trees that are capturing the carbon produced by their classroom’s lighting.

‘It’s a great lesson because it’s something they can relate to,’ says Allcock.