As part of a recent refurbishment of the Metricon Homes’ head office in Melbourne, a lighting upgrade was carried that demonstrates clearly how a combination of new LED lighting technologies and an induction fluorescent technology originally designed by Nikola Tesla in the 1890s can, in combination, reduce lighting’s energy load substantially.

Green Tomorrow Eco Solutions undertook the project, which is saving Metricon in excess of $54,167 annually, giving a return on investment payback period of 21 months. The project attracted VEET certificates, which also shortened the payback time.

Spokesman for Green Tomorrow, Lorenzo Tassone, said that for some of the company’s industrial lighting upgrade projects, such as Australia’s only aerosol can manufacturing facility, where lighting is in operation 24/7, the ROI period can be as short as three months.

The Metricon project comprised LED troffers to lift the ceiling grid aesthetic across the office spaces, Mr Tassone said.

This lifted the average lux levels across the site from 357 lux a square metre to 506 lux a sq m while using fewer lights in the commercial spaces. The lineal LED troffers also lifted the look of the existing ceiling grid without requiring any replacement of ceiling tiles – another cost saving.

Overall, the lighting energy use has been reduced by 72 per cent, and the energy load of the airconditioning system has also been reduced as the LED and induction lighting generates less heat that the previous technology.

The upgrade involved the replacement of 1367 x Twin T8 36 watt Troffers with 1098 x 30w LED Troffers, delivering an energy saving of 72 per cent; replacement of 46 x 400w MH high bays with an equivalent number of 200w induction highbays, saving 67 per cent energy; replacement of 12 400 MW flood lights with an equivalent number of 80W induction flood lights, saving 81 per cent; and replacement of 191 x 36w T8 tubes in the car parks with an equivalent number of 16.83w LED T8 tubes saving 62 per cent.

Mr Tassone explained that the induction floodlights and highbays were different to standard compact fluorescent in that the mercury is not in the form of a vapour or powder, but is rather a small pellet located in a small glass tube within the luminaire. This is both safer in terms of the risks posed by mercury dispersing if a light is broken, and also makes is easier to recycle the mercury at end of life.

They are also a technology with a long functional lifespan, with some of the firm’s clients running their lights 24/7 for over four years without any dimming of lux levels. Mr Tassone said they give a five year warranty on the technology.

“The technology was invented by Tesla in the 1890s, but only became commercially available in the early 2000s,” he said.

The next stage in the Metricon project will be to install energy monitors and improve the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.

Green Tomorrow has been providing lighting design and installations for energy efficiency upgrades since 2006. Mr Tassone, a Green Star-accredited professional, said the business grew out of the fitout projects undertaken nationally by the firm’s parent company, BrandUp.

In recent years, the energy efficiency offering has been expanded, with the acquisition of energy monitoring technology and the ability to undertake energy audits. Mr Tassone said he is now working with clients to expand their own activities in energy-efficiency beyond lighting upgrades to other measures, including lighting controls, timers for HVAC and lighting, and also those behaviour measures that have no upfront cost.

“For example, I was speaking a major retail store and I noticed it was cold – the temperature had been set at 19 degrees. So I adjusted it back up to 22 degrees and explained how that will save significant amounts of energy because the HVAC doesn’t have to work as hard,” Mr Tassone said.

He said there are many easy solutions such as that which clients are encouraged to adopt – switching HVAC off when the building is unoccupied, for example.

The firm has undertaken projects across all states, including the lighting energy efficiency upgrades for the majority of the Good Guys retail stores, and several major shopping centres including GreenWays SuperCentre, where the initial upgrade for the centre owner inspired several of the bulky goods retailers to also undertake an upgrade. Upgrades have also been undertaken at Stockland’s Baulkham Hills retail centre.

Mr Tassone said that while some states, such as Western Australia, do not have programs like the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target or NSW’s ESC, the cost of power in WA is so high that the ROI of upgrade projects is comparable to that of a VEET or ESC subsidised project.

Many clients are starting to look at solar installations, and Mr Tassone said that the company generally advise clients to start with an overall energy assessment, then undertake a lighting upgrade, then match the solar system capacity to the new energy footprint.

“I look at projects from the building perspective,” he said.

“And when we do a lighting assessment I am more and more pushing people to do an overall energy assessment and install energy use monitoring technology. We have an app people can use, and being able to see what your bill is going to be changes people’s behaviour.”