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However, with much of the NHS’s building stock dating back several decades, refurbishment work to put in place such recommendations is often not quite as straight-forward as it seems. Investing in carbon-reducing equipment, such as energy-efficient lighting, can involve invasive works that alter the fabric of a Trust’s buildings.


When altering the fabric of the

building, the biggest issue to be aware of is asbestos. Although installation of asbestos products is now illegal, the UK’s existing building stock is still rife with asbestos. Harmless when allowed to simply sit in the walls and ceilings, it becomes a serious health risk when airborne – if the building’s structure is disturbed through drilling works, for instance. Hitting issues like asbestos can immediately either put a project over- budget or simply make it non-viable. For this reason, retrofit projects that leave the fabric of the building undisturbed are growing in popularity.


Imagine ripping out and replacing thousands of fluorescent light fittings, just to install new-generation energy-efficient lamps – the dust, noise and disruption would be immense. Due to the technical and size differences between the old-style fluorescent lamps and the new, T5 triphosphor lamps that use a fraction of the electricity, this was exactly what had to happen in years past. Unsurprisingly, many healthcare estates found the prospect untenable. Low-carbon refurbishment works not only have the potential to disrupt the day- to-day activities of staff members, but they can also seriously compromise the health, safety and comfort of service users. For this reason, instead of replacing every light fitting during an upgrade to energy- efficient lighting, many Trusts are instead choosing to circumvent any alteration to the building’s fabric by using ‘Save It Easy®’, a retrofit converter from Energys Group.

The plug-in Save It Easy units adapt

the old-style ballast so that it accepts the new, energy-efficient T5 fluorescent lamp. Energys has even extended its project range to retrofit 2D CFLs so that they can be replaced with long-lasting LED lamps, via its Save It Easy 2LED Replacement Lamp. By choosing retrofit products like this, estates can expect lighting energy savings of up to 65% without disturbing the fabric of their buildings, with a typical payback of a couple of years.

ADHERING TO OFFICIAL STANDARDS There is little point in lowering energy use only to increase an estate’s maintenance burden through use of substandard energy-efficiency products. In line with heightening awareness of energy efficiency, there has also been a tightening in standards with which products must comply.

Most recently, a leading European testing house, VDE has established the standard (EN 60598) that T5 retrofit lighting products must reach in order to comply with the Low Voltage Directive, a European law that ensures electrical

equipment is safe in its intended use. Any organisation purchasing retrofit lighting equipment that does not bear the CE mark and does not conform to EN (BSEN) 60598 should be aware that they could be compromising the safety of employees and service users.

The experiences of the Royal Surrey County Hospital (see case study) show that it is possible for carbon-reduction works to be carried out on-budget. However, to do so, it is vital that healthcare estates first identify any danger areas – such as potential problems with asbestos – and then research appropriate solutions. Of course, the biggest hidden cost could be simple delay: each day that a hospital continues to waste energy means more wasted money. The sooner refurbishment works can be undertaken, the sooner savings can be made. The low- carbon retrofit sector is a source of great innovation, and hospitals should be aware that they can tap into a market filled with energy efficiency solutions that minimise disruption during refurbishment works.

ost healthcare estates fall into the category of large but non-energy- intensive, making them liable under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme. The CRC requires organisations that annually use more than 6,000MWh of electricity through half-hourly metering to report their energy use and buy carbon allowances to permit them to emit carbon beyond a capped amount. Late-stage changes to the CRC mean that estates will face an even greater financial burden under the CRC. Revenue generated from the Government’s sale of carbon allowances will now go to the Treasury, rather than being repaid to the best-performing participants; amounting, in effect, to a tax on organisations with large carbon footprints. This will make it even more imperative for Trusts to cut carbon, so that they are obliged to purchase fewer carbon allowances. Aiming to recoup costs through money saved on fuel bills is also critical. The


good news is that the timetable for the scheme has been pushed back a year, so participants do not have to buy or trade allowances until 2013.

Though less publicised than the CRC, Display Energy Certificates (DECs), which rate a building’s energy efficiency on a scale from A (best) to G (worst), can be seen as a barrier for putting into action more wide-ranging carbon reduction programmes. For Trusts that wish to exhibit their positive environmental credentials, the requirement to publicly display their poor environmental profile through a low-rated DEC can be a source of constant professional embarrassment and undercut other CSR efforts. However, improving a building’s DEC rating need not be a headache. Energy Assessors typically consider low-carbon refurbishment works, like installation of energy-efficient lighting, better insulation, and building controls, to be the top ways to cost-effectively increase a building’s DEC rating.


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