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Case Study: Upgrade light fittings

Peter Young & Malcolm Bish, Wellington Crescent, East Melbourne

Peter Young & Malcolm Bish

Two keen residents sowed the seeds to make substantial energy saving improvements in their building. After a lighting trial and site visit, everyone was convinced.

You can do this project!

Read the extended version of this case study.

With its multiple outdoor and stairway lights, big basement car park, two swimming pools and spa and sauna, the common area energy use of this East Melbourne block was hefty. Encouraged by two residents, Peter Young and Malcolm Bish, the executive committee decided to look into ways to lower their electricity bills. Lit 24/7 but not used much in the wee hours, the basement car park seemed an obvious place to start.

After researching a range of low-energy solutions, the committee decided on a multi-mode Chameleon LED light from enLighten. It ticked all of the boxes – it had options for standard, emergency and permanently-on lighting, offered value for money and promised a good payback period.

Making a business case

Peter and Malcolm, who led the project, were careful to exercise due diligence before making any big financial commitments. They organised a trial of four lights in stairwells to make sure the other residents were happy with the quality and to test whether there was enough standby light for the security system to work. They visited a building nearby that used the same Chameleon lighting. They presented a business case to other committee members, sent notices to residents, tabled the upgrades in the budget and mentioned them before, during and after the AGM.

Smart Blocks rebates

Peter and Malcolm also successfully applied for a Smart Blocks grant from the City of Melbourne. The grant is open to all residential strata buildings in the municipality to undertake energy efficiency lighting upgrades or install solar electricity systems, covering up to 50 per cent of the project’s cost up to the value to $3,000.

By topping up their sinking fund investment with the grant, Peter says they were able to replace their inefficient halogen stairwell lighting with LEDs. Now all lighting in the building’s common areas is energy efficient.

The project

In the basement and fire escape stars, where lighting is required 24/7, they replaced 90 permanently-on fluorescent battens with Chameleon LED lights (36 emergency lights, 42 standard lights and nine M-ELEC ML40 LED battens). Triggered by movement, the Chameleon fittings use 8-watts in standby mode and 32-watts in full output. This ensures safety and provides sufficient ambient light levels for the security cameras.

They also installed a row of three permanently-on LED lights at the car park entry gates for security reasons, giving would-be intruders the impression of a well-lit basement.

The electricians also replaced 30 50-watt halogen lights in six entry stairwells with Chameleon Superlight ECO12 12W LED down lights – again activated by movement.

Energy savings

The project has substantially reduced common area energy consumption and operating costs, and should pay for itself within two years.

Initially, the building’s common area electricity bills were an astronomical $18,000 per annum. During the lighting installation, they discovered a glitch in their electricity meter setup meant the common area bill included electricity used by residents, on top of lighting, the club, sauna and swimming pool.

Now that they have sorted out the metering, and with the new energy efficient lighting, they expect their electricity bills to cost around $3,000 to $4,000 per year. This is not a one-off saving; they will continue to save money each year – and even more so once the buyback period is complete.

Tips from Peter and Malcolm

  • Conducting a site visit is reassuring: you can learn a lot from the experiences of others.
  • A lighting trial was an important step in convincing us to invest money in the new technology.
  • Make sure you keep accurate records in a spreadsheet – not on the back of an envelope. Document what light fittings you have and where they are. Tick off ones that have been replaced. Keep a record of barcoded serial numbers.
  • Use energy data to crosscheck estimates against the actual energy and cost savings. We found it powerful to confirm that reduced wattage really does pay itself off.

Read the extended version of this case study.