T & E Howie Lighting specialises in lighting design and supply. With over 40 years experience they are well placed to offer best practice advice, with the aim to reduce client's lighting bills and carbon footprint whilst ensuring best lighting design and light levels.
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Whatever facility you manage, no doubt you are judged by the ‘bottom-line’. Whether you run a hospital or a warehouse, operating buildings at a lower cost is a continual challenge that often looks to new technology for a solution. LED lighting is not a new addition to the expanding list of energy saving options but it is emerging as one of the most accessible. However, surveys suggest that Facilities Managers have been slow to seize the opportunity so far, leaving it to a small number of FM ‘early adopters’ to grasp the benefits. For one US based multi-national business, the spark that drove a lighting revolution across their global empire was ignited by a newly appointed FM in Belfast.
Peter Corr appears to be a fine example of a new breed Facilities Manager who fully embraces energy saving technology. His first FM role at Bombardier’s Belfast plant created an appetite for green technology and it was an NEBOSH certificate course that introduced him to all the cost saving innovations available. It is also likely that he represents a new generation of Facilities Managers that fully acknowledge the importance of the environment. In his new position as the FM for Convergys, he quickly identified his role as one of managing contracts and the budget over two office sites, one a 90s office block overlooking a picturesque Belfast Lough and the other site a 1970s building located within the (once troubled) Springfield Road area in the city. Yet he was also keen to improve the working environment for the 2500 staff working across both buildings.
I could see how LED lighting looked good beyond the bottom line and I saw it as a great way of demonstrating the effectiveness of my role to everyone in the company.
Peter Corr, Facilities Manager
Fortunately, Peter made a connection with Paul Howie of Howie lighting, a local business, introduced through a referral. Paul immediately identified the potential savings and was willing to see the big picture and what the Convergys FM wanted to achieve. It was a relationship that was to endure a longer path to completion than either party had anticipated. In reviewing of his choice of lighting supplier, Peter Corr values the enthusiasm that Howie exhibited for LED lighting and his diligence in compiling the forecasts and persistence in supporting the project through a series of management hurdles. After a round of product reviews, lighting manufacturer Integral LED was invited to pitch to supply the replacement LED panel units and spotlights for the refurbishment. Paul Howie had worked with the producer on earlier projects and recommends the brand for its high standards of product quality, energy efficiency and after-sales service. The UK manufacturer offered panels that delivered 4000K illumination for 25W (140lm/W) of power, replacing the 70W that was required to drive the original strip light luminaires.
The financial benefits of the refurbished lighting scheme were clear, of the £101.000 it cost to power the existing lighting scheme, overheads would be reduced by 77% to £23k. This was calculated without taking the reduction in the cost of maintenance compared to the existing scheme and the constant cycle of replacing blown fluorescent tubes throughout the two sites. In the proposals that featured the forecast, the cost of replacement units was also discounted to zero given the existence of a five-year warranty from the manufacturer. Additionally, the refurbishment project was funded by an application for an ECA grant. The government backed scheme provides interest-free loans for the purpose of financing carbon reducing technology including LED lighting. The resultant 213498 Kg of lower carbon emissions all but covered the outlay to purchase and install the lights.
Even with such positive financial projection, there were still challenges ahead. Firstly. Convergys are a multi-national company with an HQ in the US. The business has a policy of not borrowing from loan schemes and were unaware of ‘local’ initiatives like the ECA. Convergys are also a revenue orientated enterprise that is attuned to profits through growth and is less familiar cost reduction as a profit strategy. The initiative had to be sold throughout the network of decision makers and over many conference calls and powerpoint presentations until go ahead was given which led to the final installation some 18 months after the project was first proposed.
Installation happened swiftly, again a local electrical contractor was introduced through Paul Howie and worked on a project plan that incurred the least amount of disruption. Teams completed whole work floors overnight which produced a ‘reveal’ of a new lighting scheme in the morning. The immediate response of staff ranged across a spectrum of reactions. Management was positive including the majority of customer service agents who voiced a ‘wow’ factor at the new brightness within their workspace.
I can say that the forecast will be achieved which matches the financial goals of the project,” concluded Peter Corr. “however the less tangible benefits of the switch to LED has been a distinct too; improvement in staff working conditions and a real boost in employee motivation is acknowledged across the two office sites
Peter Corr, Facilities Manager
The project has sparked change across the business. Convergys’s office in Dublin has commenced a similar refurbishment and plans are now in process to refit all European premises to the cost saving and performance boosting solid state lighting.
Convergys is a leading provider of customer management solutions for companies across the world. The company employs 76,000 staff and manages billions of customer interactions every year. They seek to develop lasting relationships with their people and voice a self-proclaimed belief that “when employees feel valued, supported and encouraged, they can do more than they ever thought possible.”
They also state a view that building sustainable relationships extend not only to people and clients but also to the environment. In recognition of this commitment, Convergys is consistently named among the top companies in Newsweek’s Green Rankings.
How the figures added up
Existing cost of lighting per annum: £101.000
New cost LED lighting: £23,000
Cost of new fittings (including installation): £13,000
Payback after (12 months): £65,000
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