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LED Scale:Up - Economic recovery and city investment webinar

21 April 2021, 10:58 BST 3 min read

Toby Morgan

In the latest LED Scale:Up webinar, in partnership with Signify, The Climate Group heard from a number of expert speakers exploring the tremendous opportunities to improve city investment, as well as their climate goals, which smart LED Street lighting systems can offer.  

We have been working with cities and utilities around the world to highlight the energy saving benefits of LED street lighting and to accelerate adoption for 10 years. With a global population expected to reach 9.7billion by 2050, cities will play a key role in driving emissions reduction through technological innovation. The unprecedented energy savings of 50-70% from LEDs compared to traditional lighting presents a compelling urgency to raise the priority of LED adoption.  

With the new administration in place, there is a renewed impetus on climate change and energy issues in the US. LED programs can provide a win-win proposition for cities -  drastically reducing their carbon footprint, as well as bringing many other socio-economic benefits. 

Ben Evans, VP of Public Affairs from the Alliance to Save Energy, outlined the importance of energy efficiency in the US and how the stimulus packages can potentially ensure cities have access to funding. When we think of clean energy jobs, we think of those in the solar or wind industries. However, energy efficiency provides over 2million jobs in alone. Energy efficiency is not only the cheapest and quickest win in terms of decarbonization, it also can help with many socio-economic factors as well, such as helping low-income households reduce their energy bills. 

Ben Gardner, President of Northeast Group, summarized the no-brainer financial opportunity by stating that it would cost around $8billion to convert the remaining legacy streetlights to LED, which would result in annual savings of $1.2billion in energy savings and billions more in maintenance savings over 15 years. 

Mayor Stephen Benjamin, of Columbia, South Carolina and former President of the US Conference of Mayors, noted that he was driven to invest heavily in city resilience as a result of a devastating 1,000-year flood in 2015, which resulted in extensive destruction to city infrastructure and claimed the lives of 19 people. This resulted in the City securing $100million funding through a green bond to improve city resilience. 

Columbia, SC, was the first city in the US to secure 100% renewable energy and has continued to further invest in smart infrastructure investments, which are not only good for city resilience, but they also reduce carbon emissions and improve the city environment. Mayor Benjamin also noted how forming effective partnerships, such as private-public financing partnerships, can be effective in pushing these projects along and securing value for money.  

Vince Ridgell of Signify outlined the myriad of possibilities and benefits of LED lighting systems available to cities -not just in terms of energy savings but also economic, sustainability and equity. He implored other cities and utilities to unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. 

A common theme which carried a thread throughout the discussions was how investing in smart infrastructure and city resilience, as well as being good for the environment, can also help deliver greater equity.  

As Mayor Benjamin emphasized, we need to humanize the issue around smart cities and not just talk in technical terms. For example, investments in energy efficiency can help citizens reduce their energy bills and tackle fuel poverty. Investing in smart LED lighting schemes can also help deter crime, improve safety and tackle air quality, which is often worst in the most deprived areas of a city. He summarized by saying these investments can be the backbone infrastructure for truly smart and connected cities and can help in their ambition to make Columbia, SC the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in America. 

You can access the webinar on-demand here