The Climate Group addresses key opportunities around energy efficient city lighting at Chicago conference

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6 July 2017

NEW YORK: The Climate Group addressed the unique opportunities presented by energy efficient city lighting and related smart cities concepts at the Mid-America Regulatory Conference (MARC) in Chicago last week.

Dr. Peter Curley, Technology Advisor, The Climate Group participated on a panel at the conference which took place from June 18-21, and focused on how LED lighting can be the underlying infrastructure to enable and support Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.  

MARC brings together energy regulatory agency leaders from 14 US states covering the Midwest and Southwest to address policy, research, law, local governance, energy and sustainability.

The session entitled Building a Modern City: Using Data and Digital Investments to Improve Urban Life was moderated by Stephen Stoll, Commissioner, Missouri Public Service Commission, and brought together industry leaders including David Graham, Deputy Chief of Operations, Neighbourhood services, City of San Diego,  Danielle DuMerer, Chief Information Officer and Commissioner of Innovation and Technology, City of Chicago, Kim Kentz, Director Urbanova, Smart Cities Initiatives, Washington State University, and Dr Curley.

Unprecedented savings

The benefits of large scale LED adoption and the fact that lighting accounts for 6% of global CO2 emissions were highlighted by all the participants. The also outlined how streetlighting can account for around 40% of a city’s overall electricity bill, and a considerable impact on emissions reduction can be achieved by upgrading streetlights to LEDs; which can save between 50-70% compared to traditional lighting systems.

As well as these unprecedented energy savings, connected LED lighting presents a wide range of opportunities for city-wide connectivity and smart data systems, providing new capabilities to help cities operate more efficiently. For example, connected LED streetlights linked to a Centralized Management System (CMS) can provide control and remote monitoring, facilitating asset management, and providing a hub for wider links to other city public services.

As LED streetlights can have a lifetime three to five times longer than traditional lighting systems, there are also opportunities for significant maintenance savings. The total savings can be impressive, with Los Angeles saving over US$9 million annually in electricity bills and an estimated potential US$3 million per year in maintenance savings.

Wider benefits

The conference explored how city actions, and lighting in particular, can play a larger role in modernizing and gathering data that could be used to help improve the health and well-being of citizens through monitoring of traffic, air quality, light and UV levels. The availability of this wealth of data was identified as a key driver for the transformation of municipal public health planning.

The City of Detroit is an example of the wider socio-economic benefits that can be realized when ageing city infrastructure is upgraded. Previously, up to one third of the city’s streetlights were not in working order, due to a deep economic recession. However, with strong political leadership, the city saw LEDs as an effective way to improve infrastructure, whilst creating jobs, stimulating the night-time economy, reducing crime and making citizens feel safer.

On the final day of the MARC conference, Dr. Curley presented the findings from The Climate Group’s city consultations from around the world. The consultations demonstrate that there is great interest in the growing capabilities and vision of Smart Cities and how services can be linked to create truly modern and efficient cities.  

Dr. Curley said: “With the advent of lower cost connected city lighting we have a key supporting infrastructure that will play a vital facilitating role in the trialing and ultimate roll-out of smart city concepts, using a range of sensors to improve efficiency and safety as well as new public data service offerings. 

“We will see more and more new technologies under trial in city environments, but with increased connectivity comes the need for cities and policymakers to balance the desire for wide-user access with the need to maintain asset security, as well as data and public privacy.”

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