intu – LED Rollout Cuts Energy Costs and Carbon Emissions


Over the last three years, intu has installed more than 100,000 LED light bulbs across 12 shopping centres, through an £8 million capital investment project. This is reducing operational costs, improving lighting quality, saving CO2 and contributing towards intu’s corporate responsibility objectives. As a result, intu has won a series of awards in recognition of a programme that Lux award judges describe as “an LED rollout of awesome scale”. 

2degrees Energy Award 2015

£2.5 million annual energy cost savings for occupiers

Payback within three years

30% reduction in like-for-like CO2 since 2011

Improved shopping experience


intu owns and manages some of the UK's largest shopping centres, attracting over 400 million customer visits each year. The majority of intu’s centres were built within the last 25 years, with two built in the 1970s.

In 2011, intu set itself a target to decrease CO2 emissions by 30% in its like-for-like shopping centres by 2014. With the UK’s largest portfolio of prime shopping centres, this was an ambitious goal.

Drivers behind the CO2 reduction target and LED replacement programme included:

  • Fulfilling environmental responsibilities
  • Cutting operational costs and risks related to energy use, with electricity costs rising by up to 10% annually and additional CRC energy efficiency scheme costs
  • Improving the shopping experience by enhancing light levels
  • Improving lighting management, with each centre previously using different systems
  • Harnessing new LED technologies, which had progressed dramatically in recent years, offering the opportunity to cut electricity consumption by up to 70% and reduce maintenance requirements.

In 2014, intu achieved this target and set a further goal to cut CO2 intensity by 50% at all centres from 2010 to 2020, aligning its baseline with peers.


intu's Head of Energy and Sustainability, Alan Richardson, prepared comprehensive proposals for the LED rollout, with detailed calculations of costs and potential paybacks using site survey data, including lamp types, technical specifications, quantities and operational time.

The proposals showed that, whilst LED lighting could cost up to ten times as much as fluorescent equivalents, the ongoing energy cost savings far outweighed the initial cost, as well as delivering additional maintenance cost savings.

It was agreed that the project would proceed, split into three phases, so that operational data from phase one could feed into energy and cost saving projections for subsequent phases.

Following an extensive competitive tender process, APL was chosen to supply and install LEDs across 12 intu shopping centres. Over a three-year period, more than 100,000 LEDs have been retrofitted to malls, car parks, corridors, management suites and external areas, including emergency lighting.

Benefits and financials

  • £8 million capital investment in LED lighting, with payback within three years. This was forward funded by intu.
  • £2.5 million annual energy cost savings for occupiers, as well as reduced lamp replacement costs
  • 30% reduction in like-for-like CO2 emissions in 2014 versus 2011 through lamp replacements and other efficiency initiatives, delivering on intu’s CO2 reduction target
  • 23 million kWh energy saved in the last three years, cutting CO2 by around 16,000 tonnes each year
  • Improved shopping experience, with light levels enhanced in all LED locations, including car parks, as well as upgraded emergency lighting for customer safety and less maintenance disruption because lamp life expectancy is up to five times longer, particularly important in areas where scaffolding is needed.
  • Winning the 2degrees Award 2015 for Energy and Carbon Management Short-Term Payback, Carbon Trust’s Best in Continuing Carbon Reduction Award 2014, the Mayor’s Energy Challenge Gold Award 2014 and Lux Client of the Year Award 2013.

Challenges & Achievements




How to find the right supply partner?


For some sustainability initiatives, it can be challenging to make the business case. For the LED programme, this was very clear, with a direct return on investment. The main challenge was finding the right supply partner. The supplier would need to meet intu’s high standards across 12 major shopping centres, within the project time frame. It was also key that the supplier would work closely with intu to minimise any disruption to retailers and shoppers from the replacement works, operating out-of-hours and at quieter times. The tender process was therefore quite lengthy, enabling intu to identify the right partner, APL.




How to make efficiency part of business as usual?


Alongside the LED rollout, Energy Champions were appointed at each shopping centre to focus on energy reduction at their centre and meet with other Champions to share best practice and discuss challenges through quarterly Energy Forum meetings. The Head of Energy and Sustainability also attended meetings across the portfolio to gain buy-in for efficiency from centre managers, and APL attended sessions to engage with local teams. In addition, intu developed a national campaign to challenge staff to be an ‘environmental hero’. Articles on energy awards and initiatives are regularly published on intu’s intranet.




How to achieve 50% reductions by 2020?


At each centre, the facilities management team considers efficiency when replacing equipment and in day-to-day management. At many centres, additional savings are being achieved without capital outlay, e.g. by careful scheduling of lighting for night-time cleaning to avoid lighting areas where no one is working, closing specific car park areas at off-peak times and switching on escalators five minutes before centres open rather than several hours earlier.

Find out more

Helen Drury

Corporate Responsibility Manager