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LED leads the way

LED technology is slashing the cost of lighting shopping centres, and the latest systems are as effective as traditional alternatives


ith CRC playing on the minds of centre managers and landlords alike, the energy and cost savings of LEDs are hard to ignore. There have always been reservations but

with technology improving all the time, experts insist they tick all the boxes. Compared to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, LEDs are 93 per cent more energy efficient in lab conditions, and the lifetime of a quality LED is 50,000 hours, compared to approximately 6,000 hours for an incandescent bulb, saving on maintenance and fitting costs. Nick Wraith, managing director at Lumenal, the display LED lighting

division of RMU specialists Unibox, describes LEDs as cost-effective, reliable and consistent. “LEDs have a number of benefits,” he says. “The key thing is that

they have arrived at a point where they are more viable or better than standard lighting.” Jeremy Taylor, CEO of Power Solutions, agrees. “LEDs are so much more sophisticated,” he says. “They can

last over six years if on 24/7 - the benefits from that respect are phenomenal.”

Although he warned that savings on a similar scale can only be

reached if the right products are in place. “The first thing is to have a proper survey so you can get the right quality lighting that does what it says on the tin,” he advises. “Choose a trusted supplier with expert electrical engineers, get samples and test them in the location.” Maintenance is an area where significant savings can be made. Wraith points out that lighting in the mall environment is often mounted high up and requires specialist equipment like cherry pickers to replace. This is one of the aspects where LEDs can deliver dramatic cost savings of up to 80 per cent annually. Caroline Easton, retail segment manager at Philips Lighting,

outlines how LED design can create all-important ambience. “A shopping centre is more than just a place to shop – consumers

go for an overall experience,” she says. “Colour-changing LED light fittings allow the lighting design to be far more creative in enhancing the shopping experience. Adjusting the proportion of the primary colours enables a wide range of hues to be created to address a

variety of requirements. These could include varying ambiences for different times of day and/or season, or to reinforce brand identity. Animation techniques are also available to deliver interaction with

customers. Philips recently worked with St David’s in Cardiff where LEDs were used to create an illuminated wall running the length of the escalators linking the refurbished centre with a new development to the south - encouraging shoppers to move between the two. In line with sustainability strategies, shopping centres up and down

the country have made great headway in reducing their energy usage. And for many, lighting has been a focus. “In retail, 20-30 per cent of the energy bill is lighting related, 70

per cent of which is inefficient,” says Easton. “Investing in energy efficient lighting such as LED technology is one of the easiest ways to cut cost and impact. LED lighting solutions are socially responsible, technologically advanced and pleasing to the eye.” At Midsummer Place in Milton Keynes an annual saving of £24,000

was achieved with a reduction of 210 tonnes of CO2. Part of the strategy was to reduce lighting usage. After business hours all mall and car park lights are turned off one

hour after the centre closes, except when cleaning is taking place, and lighting on the Boulevard is turned to 25 per cent from one hour after closing time – a level considered sufficient for both cleaning and public access. “For malls owned by investment companies and pension funds and with a CSR commitment to deliver to their shareholders, it’s inappropriate not to use LEDs where possible,” says Wraith. Taylor agrees. “Twenty per cent of the world’s electricity usage

comes from lighting. We’ve got to be more efficient. The cost of commodities has gone through the roof - look at the cost of energy in the last 10 years, it’s doubled and it’s only going to become more and more expensive. “We’ve got to reduce all consumption of energy where possible. And with LEDs we have the luxury to do that.”

Find out more: For more information, please contact the author: May 2011 SHOPPING CENTRE

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