I recently attended the Maryland Municipal League’s Annual Convention in Ocean City Maryland to participate in helping municipalities’ resolve their outdoor lighting challenges.
A reoccurring theme of my discussions with mayors and town officials was their concern for responsible fiscal management of their respective municipalities given tight operational budgets.
This new reality makes finding the highest performance and most cost effective products a must. There are now more energy efficiency incentive programs now available, however, these programs are not yet widely available and will not last forever.
When the time comes to change or improve the lighting infrastructure of a city, there are numerous choices but how should you make those choices? Whether it is for exterior lighting or other necessary investments, these major expenditures are often a huge challenge for a municipality.
To complicate decision making further, in October 2011 the state of Maryland will adopt a new municipal ethics policy. All the choices and decisions will imperatively have to be transparent. This means that all major choices and expenditures will have to be clear and well documented.
In this context, Mayors, town officials and supporting consultants will have no choice but to learn about the new solid state lighting products available and also about what the manufacturers as partners have to offer in addition to the product itself. With new ethics guidelines their responsibility recommending the best solution and not necessarily the lowest cost solution is daunting. Research, multidiscipline project meetings, documenting decisions, proving product performance, evaluating comparable products, reviewing photometrics, LM79, LM80 laboratory tests and ensuring listing on Design Lights Consortium (DLC) list are just a few items that will need to be covered.
Additionally, it is clear that everyone will be challenged to be more conscious about sustainability. In a context where cities and towns collaborate conjointly with utility companies for lighting needs, city officials will seek smarter choices when choosing lighting solutions. It is invaluable to partner with local energy providers (Utilities) as there must be an agreement on power consumption of any new technology depending on the source used and municipalities must ensure that the price of electricity is adjusted accordingly. By being aware of Solid State Lighting (SSL) products like LEDs, Cosmopolis electronic high Intensity discharge (EHID) and Induction technology (QL) and the intrinsic white light advantages they offer is essential knowledge for future discussions and rate negotiations.
It’s simple really, become knowledgeable about the benefits of energy efficient white light solutions in order to make the best choices for your citizens. And…. by making better choices, you can easily reduce energy consumption by 30-40 %. That’s meaningful technology and helps the bottom line in a municipal budget.
It is worth repeating: municipalities must absolutely become knowledgeable on which products are offered and what benefits these products can bring.
Municipalities should also be aware of the possibility of layering control systems onto the new lighting upgrade; since controlling lighting sources will also allow data collection and storage, they can then measure their city’s energy consumption and work to improve it. For example, it is possible to reduce electricity consumption just by reducing the light level needed to meet recommended roadway lighting practices (RP8). Since Traffic reduces late at night it is also possible to lower light levels to meet the declined risk of pedestrian and vehicular conflict. Another way to achieve energy savings might be to set the light level in a park to 25 % of its full capacity after midnight all year long and have motion detectors that would bring back the light level to 100 % when someone walks through the park. Parks are less frequently visited at night but lighting systems are still kept operating at 100 % capacity at substantial cost.
And the list goes on and on…. So as you can see, the possibilities of saving tax payers money, while positively impacting the budget using new energy efficient white light sources are endless.
What decision makers must do is to gather the right information for their application and needs, and then move forward powerfully to save money tomorrow with the right solution employed today.