Connected Light upgrade heralds reduced carbon footprint and energy costs at the St Monica Trust

Devised to bring down previously high energy costs, reduce overall carbon output and improve the standard of illumination, the new Connected Light-aided lighting revamp at Monica Wills House, Bedminster, in Bristol has ticked all the required boxes.

Comprising 121 retirement flats and extensive facilities including pool, gym and restaurant, Monica Wills House is described as offering ‘urban retirement living at its very best’. Situated in Bedminster, to the south of Bristol, the St Monica Trust prides itself on delivering a winning blend of care, support and accommodation in a vibrant and sociable environment.

To this end the Trust has always maintained a keen eye on new and emerging technologies that can boost both the resident experience and operational efficiency. Accordingly, the Estates team recently initiated an extensive upgrade project that resulted in the installation of new, high-efficiency LED lighting systems to slash energy costs and make system control more straightforward.

George Pointing at Connected Light explains that the impetus for the work was multi-faceted. “St Monica Trust definitely wanted to reduce energy costs specifically related to lighting, but there was also an awareness of the role this could play in reducing the Trust’s carbon footprint and the site’s annual £60,000 electricity bill,” says Mr Pointing.

As part of this strategy the Connected Light team ultimately ended up specifying and installing a variety of new Philips LED fittings as well as powerful control systems both in indoor and outdoor spaces. “It was a really comprehensive approach taken at this site,” confirms Mr Pointing “and already the benefits are proving to be substantial.”

Control element

Indeed, improving the control element was integral to the upgrade, as Mark Thomas, Facilities Operations Manager at the Trust explains: “Previously we had only had a single main daylight sensor for the entire building. This was probably flawed at a basic level, and in addition to that I don’t think it was working properly anyway! So the installation of the latest controls was always going to bring an immediate and lasting benefit.”

The new external fittings included the installation of 28 LED weatherproof replacements for fluorescents, with built-in movement sensors which dimmed the lighting to 10% when there was no-one around. While the new internal fittings consisted of 529 LED dimmable downlights with remote occupancy sensor controls, half the number of original fluorescent downlights.

The ability for the St Monica Trust fit-out to draw on solutions from across an extensive current range was among the factors that led the team to Connected Light. But also critical was its deep knowledge and refreshingly clear approach to negotiations. Mark Thomas remarks: “Clearly they had great knowledge and the specialism that we required, but we were also impressed by their highly professional approach. There was also some existing dialogue between the two teams on a previous project, so we were aware that Connected Light would be able to deliver on what they promised.”

While work in the internal areas affected by the upgrade took around three weeks, the external car park overhaul was conducted in just two days. The work was completed in such a way as to ensure minimal disruption to the normal operations of the site – something that was highly appreciated by the Monica Wills House residents.

Swift savings

As hoped, the impact on energy consumption has been instant and dramatic. In November alone, the reduction was an impressive 34 per cent when compared to the same month in 2016.

The savings are also substantial: for the entire scheme, average annual maintenance savings of £3,045; average annual energy savings of £16,790 and average annual CO2 savings of £1,523; making a substantial decrease in the previous £60,000 annual energy costs. It is forecast that the trust will achieve its return on investment in less than three years.

“The greater efficiency of the new fittings – coupled with the ability to deliver light precisely where and when it is required – means that we can look forward to enjoying greatly reduced energy bills for many years to come. Similarly, we expect to notice a marked reduction in maintenance and replacement fees thanks to the longer, 5 year-plus life-cycles traditionally associated with LED fittings,” says Mark Thomas.

For Connected Light, it’s another job well done, and another opportunity “to showcase the tremendous benefits that the latest-generation lighting can also bring to such a site in terms of the overall quality and consistency of illumination through LED fittings and new controls, and substantial cost savings. Throughout the site, the lighting has helped St Monica Trust deliver a better quality of life for its residents and this has been commented upon by staff and the residents, which is great to hear,” says George Pointing.

And clearly the St Monica Trust is in full agreement given that they have already asked the Connected Light team to start devising LED-based lighting scheme, enabling a repeat of those impressive energy and carbon savings, for another site in their portfolio, Darlisette House, which is located at the Sandford Station Retirement Village in North Somerset.

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