Lighting is another leading user of energy for retailers, accounting for approximately 22% of the sector’s total demand. According to BEES models, lighting from retail was responsible for emitting approximately 2.8 MtCO2e in 2015.
Emissions from lighting occur indirectly, as a result of electricity consumption. Retailers’ lighting requirements relate to the overall floor area under illumination and the levels of illumination needed. Since these factors typically change very little in a retail setting, the key variable that determines lighting’s emissions footprint is energy efficiency. Different bulbs (e.g. LED, halogen, fluorescent, incandescent, etc.) have very different efficiency ratings. LEDs have rapidly become the industry standard due to much lower energy demands for the same output of light, which results in significantly lower operating costs.
Despite clear benefits, LEDs have not been uniformly adopted. A 2020 study by energy provider E.on found that 46% of surveyed retailers installed LED lighting over the last year. This indicates that while the uptake of this technology is accelerating, it is far from universal.
Inefficient use of lighting can also contribute to emissions. User behaviours, such as leaving lights on overnight or when rooms are unoccupied, impact on energy consumption and costs, no matter the efficiency of lighting assets.
Emissions from lighting are reported by retailers as scope 2.
Routes to decarbonisation for lighting
Switching to LED technology offers significant reductions in lighting-related energy demand and emissions for retailers still using halogen, fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. This is a well-understood technology and, for the vast majority of applications, it makes clear financial sense to switch to LED as soon as possible. The BEES report indicates that improvements in retail lighting have the potential to reduce energy consumption by more than 2,800 GWh – about 10% of retail’s total demand.
In addition to the switch to LED, efficiency improvements for lighting are available, such as the implementation of passive infrared (PIR) sensors and timers, as well as consideration of required lighting levels for different types of operations and retail spaces. Installation of lighting system controls that automatically adjust to meet specific functional needs, allow daylight dimming or real-time natural illumination to adjust mood, can make a significant contribution to energy savings.
 Calculated from retail energy consumption from the BEES report and the UK Greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors for 2015. Assumes that 100% of lighting’s energy demand was supplied by the UK electricity grid.