Global electrical distributor, Rexel has given its distribution centre and offices in Dagenham an energy efficiency upgrade as part the company’s focus to “walk the energy solutions talk”.

In order to identify where the company could make cost and carbon savings, Rexel first had to get to grips with the site’s energy usage and consumption patterns. Energy monitoring equipment was used to identify opportunities for simple behavioural change that would cut energy usage.

After looking at the energy data, Rexel identified that the business was leaving vending machines turned on overnight, consuming additional energy. The company immediately implemented a business-wide behavioural change that saw all 400 branches turn off vending machines overnight – a change that is predicted to save the company almost £100,000 in annual bill savings.

After analysing the company’s energy consumption, Rexel determined that significant savings could be made by altering the site’s lighting solutions. Fluorescent luminaires which automatically detect any presence and monitor daylight were installed across the site. The new lights were picked as the optimal solution because they required no additional wiring to be installed, worked in conjunction with the existing emergency lighting system and implemented a centralised reporting system of both occupancy and failures that made managing the system easier for the company. The lighting upgrade itself resulted in an annual energy saving of 88%, paying back after just 2.4 years.

The next step in the energy efficiency journey was to look at the potential for the business to generate its own energy onsite. The Dagenham site is host to a 168 m of south-facing roof that lended itself perfectly for a solar photovoltaic install. However, the upfront cost of investing in the solar array outright proved prohibitively expensive. To combat this Rexel took out a finance option on the solar array which meant that the resulting 200kWp rooftop system had a positive effect on the company’s profit and loss statement in its first year of operation. 

One of the two EV chargers that were installed at Rexel's Essex distribution centre. Credit: Rexel

One of the two EV chargers that were installed at Rexel's Essex distribution centre. Credit: Rexel

In addition, the company installed two electric vehicle charging points to help support Rexel’s addition of EVs to its fleet. The EV charging points are powered by the solar installation and can translate 1kW of energy generated into five miles of travel.

“It is often difficult to really engage with employees and even decision-makers on the subject of energy saving,” explained Jerry Hamilton, business development director at Rexel. But he said that the key to winning buy-in from the business was “the detailed analysis of how we used our energy”, which “struck a chord” with the business.

Hamilton continued: “The PV installation was a clear physical manifestation of Rexel’s global commitment to a sustainable future, and it clearly pointed the way to further improvements. I look forward to using further technologies to demonstrate to other businesses how they are really working for us, can dovetail together, are scalable, and can be easily replicated in their premises.”

System Specifications
Solar PV system 200kWp system
Lighting solution 14W T5 luminaires with built-in presence and daylight detection
EV infrastucture 2 x Electric vehicle chargers