Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Not such a bright idea!

Now and again, working in the Scottish Parliament can feel like a bad episode of The Office. Today, was one of those days.

I've just witnessed 3 workmen take the bulb out of every desklamp on the ground floor and replace them with a slightly softer tone lightbulb - throwing the perfectly bright, old halogen lightbulbs in the bucket...

It's just bizarre and a total waste of money! They'll be bringing people in to file the sharp edges off the paper clips next...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have written to David Fairhurst, the SP's Environmental Performance Manager on this subject. Here is our correspondence:

1. -----Original Message-----
From: Swanepoel RE (Eric)
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 11:52 AM
To: Fairhurst DW (David)
Cc: Wilson B (Bill), MSP; McCartney D (David)
Subject: Light bulbs

Dear Mr Fairhurst

My desktop lamp's bulb has just been replaced by another
filament bulb (not a low-energy one). The overhead light is
constantly on (!), so I never use the desktop lamp, and I
explained this to the gentleman replacing the bulbs. He still
replaced my bulb and explained that the bulbs were all
automatically changed when they approached the end of their
estimated lives and that the "old" bulbs were just thrown away

There are several issues here, which I shall make explicit:

(1) All bulbs should be low-energy.

(2) Is it really beyond the wit of man to make modifications
allowing the overhead bulbs to be switched off?

(3) Does the fact that I never use my desktop lamp
(theoretically it might be useful for an intern working on the
desk behind me so I suppose I could justify having it in the
office) not mean that the bulb did not need to be replaced?
Should my word regarding this not have been considered?
Alternatively, could members not be issued with replacement
bulbs to put in when the old ones expire (and instructed to
order spare ones at that time)?

(4) Would it not be better to donate the used bulbs to
charitable organisations (or give them away to anyone?) rather
than throw them away?

If the Scottish Parliament is serious about reducing its
environmental costs there must be some improvement that can be
made in at least one of these areas. I look forward to your
reply and thank you in anticipation.

Best regards


Dr R. Eric Swanepoel
Office Manager/Researcher for Dr Bill Wilson MSP
Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

2. From: Fairhurst DW (David)
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:38 AM
To: Swanepoel RE (Eric); Wilson B (Bill), MSP
Subject: RE: Light bulbs


Thank you for your email regarding the relamping exercise in
the MSP Building.

All light bulbs in the parliament are replaced on a plan
maintenance basis with the frequency of this replacement based
on the manufactures stated lifespan of the bulbs and their
predicted use. Based on this the bulbs in the desk lamps are
replaced every six months however, based on your comments this
may not be the right frequency and it has been extended to
every 12 months. We will monitor the number of calls we
receive for replacement lamps and will adjust this frequency as

The costs of replacing all desk lamp bulbs with low energy ones
has been looked at and was found to have a very long pay back
due to their infrequent use and therefore was considered not to
be a good use of resources.

Unfortunately the lights above the researcher's desk can not be
turned on and off on and individual basis. However, recent
changes to the wiring will system allow whole floors to
programmed to be off outside of office hours and you should
have received information already about this. Introducing
switches into each room while possible has been costed and was
found to be very expensive.

Thank you for your interesting suggest regarding donated bulbs
to charity. While this is a good idea in practice I think that
this would be quite in practical and it would be much better to
maximise the use of bulbs by estimated how long will last as
best we can.

Please give me a call if you would like to discuss this further.

Kind regards, David.

3. Dear David

Many thanks for this. I am pleased that the consumption of bulbs might be halved at least.

Here's an alternative/supplementary idea which Bill and myself have discussed: perhaps you could let people know a day or two before bulbs are due to be replaced, asking them to stick notes on their lamps if they do not wish the bulbs to be replaced? If they placed notes saying that they did not want them replaced then, of course, they would also be implying that they would be prepared to approach you for replacement bulbs if/when their bulbs blew.

Your help is much appreciated.

Best regards