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The Light Brigade

Lights on, camera out: a new campaign wants your help to get businesses to switch off at night

Published on January 28th 2010.


The Light Brigade

Aesthetically-speaking, we quite like the sight of an empty office building lit up at night. There's something Edward Hopper-esque about it – that last stand against the darkness, those vacant, lonely spaces.

They're encouraging Manchester residents to take mobile phone photos of businesses where lights have been left on unnecessarily overnight.

Environmentally-speaking though, it's bad news – and it's the focus of the Light Brigade, a new campaign set up by the British Council Climate Advocates. They're encouraging Manchester residents to take mobile phone photos of businesses where lights have been left on unnecessarily at night. You upload your picture to their website and the campaign organisers will then contact the business owners to show them the potential benefits of ensuring lights are switched off outside of working hours.

Sarah Williams at the Light Brigade explains: “When I’ve been walking around the city centre in the evening, long after offices have shut up for the day, I’m often amazed at how many lights are left on, especially given the otherwise sound green credentials of many of these organisations.

“People sometimes just need a reminder about the huge savings and the reduced CO2 that comes from someone taking responsibility for the lights when everyone leaves at night. And the campaign is also a great way for people to actively get involved in fighting climate change.”

The campaign works with organisations including the Carbon Trust to help businesses save on energy expenditure and cut their carbon emissions. The Lowry Hotel worked with the Carbon Trust in 2007 to streamline their energy usage – within a year they had saved £37,000 on energy bills and cut their energy usage by 11 per cent.

If you like this type of worthy 'environmental' beating up, then next time you spy a shop or office building all lit up for no good reason, get your phone out and get a picture. Apparently you're not 'naming and shaming' – you're helping them cut their bills. Right. Confidential - not a natural policeman - isn't sure about this type of behaviour at all.

The campaign runs until 1 March. Visit www.lightbrigade.org.uk for more information.

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

WinstonJanuary 28th 2010.

A bit too worthy for me this campaign. Seems a bit gimmicky. Also a bit 1984 and reporting on your neighbours. A bit nasty.

Green bulliesJanuary 29th 2010.

I can't stand this green vilgilantism. Yuck

Leigh ScottJanuary 29th 2010.

What an utterly stupid idea. These Global warming converts who have gladly sucked up the government's stealth tax need to have deep pockets. You will spend more time burning fuel in the heavily lit court rooms and solicitors offices defending yourself if you get it wrong by posting unjustifiable pictures of businesses and causing deformation cases at random. How on earth do you give Joe public the power and judgement to justify and measure when they think a light should be on or off?
Please, please, please can someone demonstrate some common sense here and in the mean time channel energies for a better, more influential cause if global warming really does convince you that man has such a very heavy influence on climate change. In fact - here’s a better idea;(killing two birds) As most of us clearly hate being in cars stuck in the Manchester traffic at peak times. Ask joe public to get on the trams, take pictures of the terribly over priced commute add up the impact of an inadequate city council response to Manchester’s dire need for a decent twentieth century transport infrastructure and post THESE images on the web with a carbon counter next to each item and tax payers comments on why they drove in each day and I am willing to bet will have a cause most will join….If you or anyone else do take up my more ‘productive’ idea you will no doubt be working well in to the night, so make sure you light a F*cking candle or sit next to the window on the ground floor in view of the light police…pathetic..rant over

CASJanuary 29th 2010.

Scotee, how can it be defamation? Either they had their lights on or they didn't. Any conclusions to be drawn are in the eye of the beholder. I agree with this to be honest but for one main reason. There's a car park I can see from my apartment in the distance, it's just at the side of Leftbank. They have so many lights on 24 hours a day that it looks like a UFO in the early hours. It's ridiculous.

Leigh ScottJanuary 29th 2010.

Cas-take the picture in the artcile ,how many people are working in that buildin?don't know? well let's assume the owners get their backs up about you slghting them?solicitors letter in the post and on the carpark,they have to have lights on for health and safety reasons,which goes for most of the buliding you can see in the image...still a silly idea

CASJanuary 29th 2010.

That building in question, though I have a feeling it's just a pic ManCon plonked on, is occupied by a financial instituion who don't work 24/7. I'd like to see how they'd pop a solicitors letter off to anybody and how that would impact on their own environmental targets. The carpark shuts at 10pm and you can't get in, why the need for 24 hour lighting? Scotee you've obviously got yourself wound up but are not making much sense on this one mate.

Leigh ScottJanuary 29th 2010.

Not really Cas- I think you make lot of assumptions there. For starters you have no idea who works in any random building for how long or at what time. Secondly- Joe public may implicate such a building and regardless of carbon targets it is not the position of the general public to 'highlight' (excuse the pun) a company that has it's lights on therefore making them look socially irresponsible. So yes, if it happened to me I would sue.

CASJanuary 29th 2010.

It aint going to happen to you though Scoteee is it! Each company on their yearly Companies House return now has to do a section about their environmental impact and what they're doing about it. This is why initiatives like this cannot be met with brick walls by companies, especially bigger ones who usually have their own environmental charters. I find it hard to see how I'm working from assumptions.

Leigh ScottJanuary 29th 2010.

Cas- I’m sure we are boring everyone with this so I’ll sign off by saying this.
I am well aware of my company obligations and yes (not that you make assumptions) it could very well happen to me. I am directly responsible for 35,000 sft of office space in Manchester city centre, we have 100's of staff with 24/7 access a pre-requisite for most companies nowadays. We do have sensors that trip the lights when people approach various areas and go off after a given number of minutes inactivity (not on all floors but some).I still say that if it was pointed out to me that I had lights on at 2am across 6 of my 8 floors then I would not be happy with my building’s picture being taken and publicly posted/listed. I still seek to get a response as to how anyone can conceivably identify whether or not my lights should be on or off. I still stand by my original point of view. It is without doubt an utterly stupid idea.

CASJanuary 29th 2010.

We'll have to agree to disagree but I'm quite sure the Lowry are pleased with the 37k they have saved.

AnonymousFebruary 4th 2010.

Actually heat is more important than light so could we have a heat survey please (hire the police 'copter and take some infared pics. And have office managers actually checked with staff about how hot they want the office or do the staff strip to tee shirts and boxers these days?
And are they switching to leds lighting. Its not about global warning its about real waste of money by the companies... If they want to though there money away just drop the fivers out of the (sealed) windows.

Ps I take it ManCon is leading the way in cutting energy bills.

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