How Replacing Streetlights to LED can Help the City Councils

How can LED street lights make the streets a safer place while minimizing expensesIn our previous post, we spoke about the importance of city lighting. Lighting helps improve safety, reduces crime and also uplifts the overall look of the city. Lighting is an important aspect of city planning. Just like roads and other amenities, lighting is an important mandate for all city councils. Read our post about the importance of city lighting »

Over the last five years, most city councils across Australia have actively initiated the process of replacing old streetlights to LEDs. The advantages of opting for LED Street lights are manifold.

Cost and Energy Savings

LED lighting can reduce your carbon footprint significantlyThere are more than 2.3 million street lighting lamps in service in Australia, this contributes to nearly 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse emissions each year and costing nearly $400m in energy and maintenance costs. It is stated that a change to widely accepted energy efficient technologies could save councils nearly 80% in energy costs. In addition to adopting renewable energy sources for public amenities, replacing traditional lighting with LED lighting is one of the first proven steps to reduce carbon footprint.
“Old lights use four and half times the electricity. The 80W mercury vapour streetlights cost 437% more in electricity compared to LEDs.”

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Return on Investment

While the implementation in LED light replacement appears to be a high investment. The capital cost of the new lights, installation costs, project management and other costs (such as a residual value of old lights), the initiative will pay themselves back in as little as 5 years.

“Long and predictable lifetime: The projected lifetime of LED street lights is usually 10 to 15 years, two to four times the life of currently prevalent High Pressure Sodium Lamps. (LEDs themselves do not generally fail or “burn out” in a way comparable to other technologies, and barring catastrophic failure of other mechanical or electronic components of the LED fixture, lifetimes are typically set by a decrease in luminous output of 30%.”

Leading by Example

Commercial LED lighting examplesGovernments at the central and local level clearly understand the positive impact of sustainability and environment-friendly solutions in cities. As cities are gearing up for a sustainable city management and development, many city councils are setting great examples.

Sydney has set a great example and is a world leader in the movement to switch over to LED lighting in public spaces. Public lighting costs make up one-third of Sydney’s annual electric bill and nearly 70% of its greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2012, Sydney has saved nearly $370,000 and enjoyed a 34% reduction in energy usage.

In Brisbane, more than 20,000 LEDs have been switched over from incandescent bulbs. This includes 8,500 LED lights that have been incorporated into City Hall alone.

Melbourne is not only installing LED lighting on the street through its Public Lighting Strategy, it is also offering rebates to apartment owners who upgrade to LED lighting through the Smart Block programme.

The benefits of installing LED lights and LED downlights are real and the impact immediately noticeable. Other cities across Australia, both large and small, are taking note of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne’s experiences and starting to implement their own LED lighting plans, hoping to enjoy similar cost savings, emission reductions and lowering the carbon footprint.

Smart Lights Ready

Smart street lighting is LED lightsThe Lighting Council of Australia has initiated discussion and pilots for “Smart Street Lighting” across the country. Smart street lighting refers to lighting infrastructure includes traditional lighting with “additionally designed features to increase efficiencies, productivity, and services”. These technologies will offer higher energy efficiency, lower maintenance and also capture data efficiently for improving city services.

Of course, the primary requirement for Smart Street Lighting is LED lights, which will integrate seamlessly with these future technologies.
Lighting Council Australia strongly recommends that any upgrades of traditional street lighting incorporate smart-ready LED luminaires. Smart-ready LED luminaires include cabling and connectors able to accommodate the connection of sensors and communication devices at a later date.

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Improved City Living and Confidence of the Community

There is no doubt that better lighting improves the city. Not only does it create safety but it also improves the city life and night-time ambience. This adds to better living and improved businesses.When better lighting improves the state of the city, the council can be sure to gain a better standing in the community and gain the confidence of the locals.

In a survey conducted by the city of Sydney since the start of the LED lighting project showed that “More than 90% of people surveyed by the City said they found the new lights appealing and three-quarters said the LEDs improved visibility.”

How to Change your Lights: The Steps and the Barriers

How to change your street lights - the steps and the barriersReplacing the streetlights for a city or even an area is a large-scale project for the city. So it is essential to plan the project well and also understand the economic impact on the city council for a project of this scale.

Ironbark Sustainability consultants recommend a clear five step process to replacing your traditional streetlights to LED Streetlights:

  1. Prepare (develop a business case or financial and technical feasibility analysis)
  2. Fund (through internal and/or external sources, including financing options)
  3. Define (develop the Project Plan, Design Plan, and Communication Plans)
  4. Procure (purchase the materials, the installers and the project managers)
  5. Manage (ongoing oversight, liaison with key stakeholders, reporting and ensuring electricity and maintenance savings are flowing through to councils)

The consultancy also gives a helpful understanding of the barriers and roadblocks projects of this size and nature might face.

a) Capital Cost Barrier

The cost of undertaking a street lighting bulk changeover can run into the millions of dollars. However, over the last few years, many of the councils have been successful in receiving funding through the Federal Government’s competitive Community Energy Efficiency Program (CEEP). In NSW, funding through the Energy Savings Scheme (ESC) and financing options through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are also available. It also practical to make a bulk order during your procurement. This will be instrumental in bringing down costs and it will also make it easier to negotiate with the suppliers to get some added benefits like extended warranties and AMCs.

b) Expertise Barrier

As councils and consultants are implementing more and more projects over the years, the level of experience and expertise has gone up. This will mean better planning and execution can be expected with minimum errors. While hiring expert consultants is a good option, it may also be wise to request help from other experience city councils that may have implemented similar work in their cities. The council could also hire an advisor who can be an in-house expert and will able help the project complete successfully.

c) Relationships Barrier

Collaboration works. Don’t underestimate it. Every single successful project in Australia has been the result of cooperative dialogue and relationships between councils, DNSPs and other key stakeholders. Ensure all stakeholders are committed to the vision of a project, this will ensure that any differences are set aside for the good of the project. Improved conflict resolution will have a positive impact on all aspects of the project time, cost and quality!

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