Energy Efficient LED Lighting: The Smart Way to Light up the City

1) Technology: Osram’s Streetlight 20 LED, an energy efficient alternative to existing streetlight technology.

2) Sustainability Problem: Energy Consumption by Conventional City Street Lights

The majority of city streets in the United States are illuminated with incandescent bulbs, which are more costly and less energy efficient than Light-emitting diodes, or LED, lights.  LEDs use “a fraction of the wattage required to power a bright incandescent bulb (CNET).”  By providing more lumens per watts, and lasting thousands of hours longer than incandescents, LEDs are not only more environmentally friendly but also more cost effective. But still, just 10% of U.S. cities are using LEDs to illuminate their streets at night.

Part of the reason why we don’t see more LED lights on city streets is that a recent press release from the American Medical Association, published in 2016, claimed that if not properly installed, LED lights can be harmful to both humans and wildlife.   “The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects. (AMA)”  They recommend an intensity threshold that will minimize the richness of the blue light emitted, proper shielding to minimize glare, and dimming used for off-peak time periods.

The Department of Energy, on the other hand, points out that there is no clear difference between the dangers of LED lighting and that of more conventional incandescent lights and a clear advantage of LED lighting is that they are dimmable.  Plus, LEDs “offer a high degree of control over the pattern and evenness of light on the ground. By contrast, conventional lamp-based technologies produce light in all directions (US Dept of Energy).” AMA is not suggesting that LEDs should not be used (they do acknowledge their importance and sustainable advantage) but rather that extra attention should be paid to proper installation.

And luckily, we are seeing changes to street lighting.  New York City is currently undertaking the largest such project in the country by retrofitting 250,000 street lights.  They claims that by doing so the city “will save approximately $6 million in energy and $8 million in maintenance a year. (DOE)”

3) Technology Stakeholders

  • Department of Transportation
  • City Planners
  • Department of Energy
  • Lighting Companies
  • City Residents

4) Technology Implementation
1) Work with City’s Department of Transportation to establish a timeline which would roll out the new lighting, one neighborhood at a time.
2) Ensure that proper staff are trained for installation and maintenance.
3) Start with least populate areas and test before moving to city center.
2) With each new installation, comply to AMA standards
3) Each installation would be followed by a 3 month testing period of both functionality and reliability.
4) Once 3 months is complete, move to next neighborhood and repeat for additional areas.


5) Comment on Solar Bike Paths –
This is a great way to encourage people to be healthier – getting on their bikes – and also allowing cities to be more green. By having solar panels as bike lanes, you are not only creating renewable energy but also avoiding exacerbating the heat island affect since with asphalt you are just absorbing unwanted heat and worsening the problem.


2 thoughts on “Energy Efficient LED Lighting: The Smart Way to Light up the City

  1. LED Street lights are currently being implemented in many developing countries. Large stretches of roads are being illuminated with control system based LED systems.

    Liked by 1 person

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