The challenge of lighting up NUS Headquarters

The Mayor’s Business Energy Challenge is working to encourage firms in London to reduce their energy use. There are some great projects happening across the city, with businesses working together to find new ways to use energy smarter.

Read on to hear about a new way of providing lighting being trialled in the National Union of Students’ HQ near King’s Cross. It is based on circular economy thinking…

Students reinventing lighting

by Jamie Agombar, Head of Sustainability, NUS

When you think of the NUS, you probably don’t naturally think of sustainability. Well, things are changing. NUS now offer sustainability engagement programmes, like Student Switch Off, Green Impact and Student Eats, to more than two thirds of all UK universities. We also encourage curriculum reform and run the Students’ Green Fund.

We do all this because it matters to our students. Indeed, 60 per want to learn about sustainability, 75 per cent are concerned about climate change and 85 per cent want their institutions to be greener. Amazingly, our sustainability team now makes up ten per cent of everyone working at NUS.

Two years ago we sold our Endsleigh Street HQ and moved to 275 Gray’s Inn Road. Stripping it back and refitting it gave us a great opportunity to practice what we preach on sustainability.

That’s meant using solar photovoltaics for hot water, rainwater harvesting, voltage reduction, and air source heat pumps. But we didn’t stop there. Inspired by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we approached Philips Lighting to create the UK’s first ‘Pay per Lux’ model.

As an educational charity, we’ve no interest or desire to own light fittings - we want light provided as a service.

Through Pay per Lux, we now have state of the art LED lighting, with well thought out sensors, and a lighting management system - all with no upfront cost. It is more than a rental model though. There’s also a financial incentive for Philips to help us save energy. If we get sloppy with energy management, they earn less rent.

This means we have a long-term partnership. That’s far better than us buying cheap inefficient fittings and mismanaging them for 15 years.

You can find out more at

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