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Switching to LEDs makes lighting up the NHS cost less

A huge project to replace inefficient fluorescent lights with LEDs is taking place at Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals to help tackle climate change and save NHS money.

CUH standing on a yellow ladder is installing a new LED light fitting
LEDs are between 35-60% more efficient than fluorescent lights

Our teams have been putting energy saving LEDs in areas such as wards, outpatient waiting rooms, corridors and canteens as part of a long-term project to make services more environmentally sustainable.

LEDs –– short for light emitting diodes –– are between 35-60% more efficient than old style lighting, helping us to reduce our carbon footprint and save money.

As well as being cheaper to maintain and run, LEDs light up objects in their natural colours, creating a better quality light for patients, staff and visitors.

Office lit with fluorescent lights which emit a yellow light Brightly lit room shows the quality of lighting with new LED fittings
Office lit with fluorescent lights which emit a yellow light
Before with fluorescent lights
Brightly lit room shows the quality of lighting with new LED fittings
After with LEDs

We have been working to make our services more environmentally sustainable for many years. And since 2014, we’ve upgraded more than 13,000 light fittings across Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), reducing our CO2 emissions by around 9,500 tonnes and saving more than £2.7 million on our electricity bills.

Our engineers are currently upgrading the equivalent of five clinics (515 lights) as part of the current push, which will reduce CUH’s CO2 emissions by approximately 36 tonnes a year, a saving of around £22,000 based on current grid emission factors.

Kieran Lockey, energy and sustainability engineer, who’s been managing the project calculates that just over a third (35%) of the lighting at CUH has now been upgraded to LEDs.

LEDs are fitted as standard in all new buildings and ward refurbishments. But with more than 24,000 fittings still to be replaced, there’s a long way to go.

And as Richard Hales, energy and sustainability manager explains, whilst changing a light fitting sounds a straightforward job, it can actually be quite complicated.

It’s understanding that we're on a long journey and it's a massive hospital with thousands and thousands of light fittings.

"You think we’ve just got to swap a light fitting but actually there are other remedial bits of work where we need to replace things like old rubber cabling. And so we have to build all these things in along the way."

In addition, there are lots of spaces within our hospitals that are in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can’t decant patients out of wards just to change the light fittings. So we upgrade the lighting in these areas as part of ward refurbishment programmes.

Richard Hales, energy and sustainability manager

The switch to more energy efficient lighting, alongside other work to turn off lights and other equipment when they are not in use, is one of the many things that we are doing here at CUH to help reduce our impact on the environment.

CUH launched its Action 50 Green Plan in April 2022, setting out how we will save more than two thousand tonnes from our direct carbon emissions by 2024 and become a net-zero organisation by 2045.

The plan builds on the significant progress already made in addressing the climate emergency, and responds to the ‘Net Zero NHS’ plan published in 2020.

To find more about CUH's Green Plan, click here.