Bridging the knowledge gap

Organisations are missing out on important savings, due to a lack of awareness of the latest facts about low energy technology, argues Colin Lawson, Head of Sales & Marketing at Tamlite Lighting.

The word is out; energy efficiency is a business good, with 80% of companies considering it a high priority. These are the findings of a recent CBI (Confederation of British Industry) report, Shining a light: Uncovering the business energy efficiency opportunity. Yet it’s easy to overlook the fine print. The CBI report also found that, despite widespread enthusiasm for energy efficiency, a majority of staff do not have the know-how to select the most appropriate (and most beneficial) measures. After all, knowing you want to save energy is not the same as knowing how to save energy.

Indeed, what’s emerging is a worrying knowledge gap. Energy efficiency positives – reduced energy bills, CO2 emissions and maintenance costs – are self-evident, yet energy saving technology is a vast and rapidly evolving arena. It’s no surprise that the CBI report found that “a lack of awareness at all levels undermines businesses’ attempts to better manage their energy use”.

Fast moving technology

When it comes to lighting in particular, technology to save energy is changing so quickly that it’s understandable that many people – even those working at high levels in building services – do not know the latest facts. In lighting, payback periods are reducing, light outputs are increasing and efficiency levels are improving. Every year sees a dazzling array of new products come to market, all promising amazing energy savings.

Yet, without up-to-date knowledge, investing in energy efficient lighting can be a minefield. LED lighting provides an apt case in point. LEDs may be low energy, but they can vary wildly in terms of light quality. A product’s colour temperature (the warmth of the light created), colour rendering index (how naturally the lighting reproduces colours) and glare control (whether the light is literally dazzling) can all affect the quality of light produced.

Despite this, many suppliers obscure the facts, accidentally or wilfully, about their low-specification LED products. Low-spec, ‘value’ LED products are suitable for some applications, while other areas call for a high-spec, ‘performance’ product. If an organisation selects value LEDs for its offices, it may save energy, but the lighting will not be fit for purpose.

Here lies the crux of the matter because although organisations are keen to invest in energy efficiency, are they investing in the most appropriate measures? Unfortunately, a lack of strong knowledge means that many managers are investing in high profile technology (such as the much-hyped LED lighting) rather than selecting the best energy saving products for their premises.

It’s not only in the arena of LED where lighting technology has improved in leaps and bounds. While fluorescent lighting may be perceived as outdated, in fact, new-generation fluorescent can provide good light quality at very low energy consumption. Fluorescent is actually comparable with LED and, in many applications, it can be more cost effective. Yet, in many cases, the knowledge gap prevents fluorescent being considered as a viable energy saving option.

Greater support needed

If UK businesses are to reap the rewards on offer from improved energy efficiency, it needs to work on bridging this knowledge gap. Staff members at all levels of the organisation need increased awareness of the facts about energy saving technology, and they need to seek support to find the most appropriate measures in which to invest.

Recognition of this knowledge gap is part of the reason that Tamlite Lighting is expanding its offerings in the projects and specification market. If organisations are to achieve maximum ROI, while still maintaining good light quality using fit-for-purpose technology, they require support at every stage of the process.

Tamlite is also taking steps to cut out much of the confusion that surrounds LED lighting with the launch of its INFINITY mark of assurance. The INFINITY mark will now feature on the products within Tamlite’s LED range that meet specific high performance standards for efficiency, life, colour rendering, colour temperature and testing. It has been developed to help customers to differentiate these ‘performance’ products from lower-specification LED products.

When Tamlite customers see the INFINITY mark, they know, at a glance, that this LED product achieves natural colour rendering, comfortable colour temperature and appropriate glare control. This makes choosing the right product infinitely simpler. Developing initiatives such as the INFINITY mark is ever more important in light of the knowledge gap.

UK businesses are paying more than £1.6 billion too much on their energy bills every year as a result of energy inefficiency (according to Carbon Trust figures). What’s clear is that much of this financial waste results from a lack of awareness over energy saving. Companies need to arm themselves with the right knowledge about the energy efficiency measures available such as, what’s out there? What delivers the greatest impact? What achieves the best payback terms? Energy savings are there for the taking – providing companies are able to bridge the knowledge gap.

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