By: Kristofer Settle Nov 2, 2013 Source: the energy collective

NYC Streetlight Efficiency

The streets of New York City will be a little brighter (literally) over the next few years.

Last week NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced a new effort to replace the city’s current amber streetlights for white, more energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs throughout the five boroughs. The switch will result in the installation of a quarter-million new lights with a goal of completing the task within the next four years. The effort goes hand-in-hand with Bloomberg’s long-term sustainability PlaNYC plan to reduce greenhouse emissions though city operations by thirty percent, which it also aims to accomplish by 2017.

The installations are estimated to cost around $76.5 million to complete, most of which will be funded through NYC’s Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency (ACE) Initiative. Despite the cost, the benefits over time are substantial for the city’s bottom line, as well as its carbon footprint.

The new lights will reduce the need to change the lights frequently. Whereas the current bulbs last six years on average, an LED bulb should last over three times as long – around twenty years. Once fully installed, the city estimates it will save approximately $14 million each year when combining a $6 million reduction in energy costs and $8 million in savings through maintenance costs.

Technically, the switch to LED lighting began in 2009 as a pilot program. Under that program several notable locations, including Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in Manhattan, the Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn (where the announcement was made), and pedestrian paths in Central Park have already made the LED light switch. The new, fully-fledged program will work in three 80,000 light phases, starting in Brooklyn before making its way to Queens, followed by the remainder of the city for the last phase.

Sadik-Khan acknowledged the positive feedback received at the press conference about the new lights, “People tend to like them. It’s clear. It’s bright. It really does a good job in providing fresher light.” In addition, Bloomberg stated the light switch is a “large and necessary feat” that will “save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us continue reducing City government’s day-to-day costs and improving its operations.”

Although New York City’s switch will be the largest LED retrofit in the nation upon completion, NYC isn’t the first (or even second) large American city to make the change. Los Angeles finished a four-year project in January that replaced over 140,000 bulbs, while Boston is also knee-deep in its own initiative to replace 64,000 bulbs – converting forty percent of its street lights as of the end of last year. The city of Buffalo’s private sector also recently installed around a dozen new light fixtures, with the assistance of National Grid, at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

However, New York City was the first large American city to use LED traffic signals. Starting in 2001, the city changed out 12,700 signalized intersections over time and as a result, reduced the signals’ energy usage by 81 percent.

Photo Credit: NYC Streetlight Efficiency/shutterstock