Lighting the way – smart solutions for social housing

Head of business development and specification explains how one of the UK’s largest operators of affordable housing, Peabody, gave tenants improved and safer lighting across its estate, whilst delivering significant financial savings, reductions in carbon emissions and central multi-site control through an integrated LED lighting solution, combined with advanced wireless lighting controls.

The substantial cost of lighting remains a drain on the budget of many social housing providers, and for Peabody, with an estate of over 17,000 blocks housing over 80,000 residents, the desire to reduce energy usage across its estate continued to be top of the agenda. Peabody also needed to adhere to rigorous emergency lighting regulations in the sector, as well as to offer tenants the benefits of an improved, safer-lit environment in which they could live happily.

Peabody understood the importance of installing an LED lighting solution that offered greater efficiency, lower running costs, and perhaps most importantly, improved illumination when compared to the traditional incandescent lighting installed previously. Equally essential was having a scalable and controllable lighting portfolio across all its buildings in the future. The company also wished to employ enhanced control strategies across its estate including occupancy detection, daylight harvesting, scene setting and time scheduling to maximise savings and provide its tenants with the best lighting possible.

With these goals in mind, Peabody moved forward to modernise its lighting. An integrated LED lighting system with a wireless-enabled bulkhead fixture which could link with ground-breaking wireless lighting control system EyeNut, offered the perfect solution.

A brighter solution

EyeNut gives Peabody full control of lighting within the blocks through the system’s graphic user interface (GUI). Energy “hot spots” are flagged-up on the system through the mapping tool, as are usage patterns, allowing the most effective energy strategy to be deployed.

Luminaires can be switched or dimmed collectively, or individually. They can also be scheduled to activate lighting where and when it is most needed.

The system enables users to monitor and manage their interior lighting with multi-site control from a single hub. For Peabody, with a sizable estate, this was a noteworthy feature.

With the data reporting function, Peabody can implement efficiency strategies as facilities managers are informed of energy saved in kilowatt hours and pounds. Also, lamp failures or abnormal behaviour is swiftly reported which can then be promptly investigated, enabling tenants to feel more comfortable as concerns over dimly lit areas within and around the outside of buildings on housing estates can be addressed immediately.

Emergency compliance

The system, initially installed in two housing blocks in phase one of the project, comprised 80 bulkhead LED fixtures, with 70 per cent of these fixtures including an innovative emergency feature, enabled through the EyeNut Combined Emergency driver. The entire lighting portfolio was controlled through the innovative EyeNut wireless monitoring and management system.

At Peabody, emergency lighting functionality was an essential requirement within their housing blocks. Given that most fires occur in domestic dwellings, it is widely recognised that a social housing block has a higher risk for tenants should fire break out. This is reflected in the emergency lighting regulation that housing associations must adhere to – which requires monthly on-site visits for scheduled functional and duration tests.

By installing EyeNut and the EyeNut Combined Emergency driver, Peabody could automate all emergency protocols and achieve complete compliance with emergency lighting regulations.

The retrofit high-performance driver, which incorporates a revolutionary automatic test feature, eliminated the requirement for monthly site visits by automating monthly and yearly tests compulsory by test standards. All the results of the automatically scheduled functional and duration testing are exported for audit tracking through the EyeNut Graphic User Interface (GUI). For Peabody, this not only ensured complete compliance with emergency lighting regulations, but also saved them substantial time and money.

By installing an LED lighting solution and wireless lighting controls, Peabody achieved a marked reduction in energy consumption across its two blocks, with energy savings equating to 44 per cent. Through enhanced dimming and sensor control throughout its estate, the leading housing association is aiming to reach 50 per cent energy savings.

Advances in lighting control

With ever-increasing pressure on the public sector to provide more for less, the utilisation of LED lighting for communal areas and emergency lighting in social housing is becoming more conventional. However, savvy housing associations are now realising the benefits that new generation wireless lighting control technologies can deliver and are already achieving huge energy and monitory savings across their estates.

When new generation lighting technologies are installed with lighting controls savings can reach as much as 50 per cent, and with lighting accounting for up to 40 per cent of a building’s electricity bill, the return on investment can be less than two years.