LED Lighting – an Ideal Solution for Public Lighting Projects?
14th September , 2011

LED Lighting – an Ideal Solution for Public Lighting Projects?

LED lighting presents a massive opportunity for forward thinking local government and public bodies.  Public projects, large scale community and commercial buildings and street lighting are ideally placed to save money and reduce emissions through the use of LED technology based sustainable lighting.  Across the globe, cities and municipalities are embracing LED lighting, saving money, reducing carbon footprints and harnessing the benefits aswell as receiving positive press.

According to Lux Research, lighting accounts for over 20% of the energy used by buildings. This value represents, 7.2% of the primary energy use within the developed world, and causes 360 million metric tons of carbon emissions (5% of global emissions).  That’s before we consider the $174 billion in electricity costs. 

Given the stakes, both financially and environmentally, one would think LED adoption would be a no brainer but there are perceived barriers.  The most obvious is the up-front cost of LED lighting.

“…by 2020, LEDs will provide 60 percent of low bay lighting for commercial, industrial, government and public buildings, while advanced lighting controls will be put to work in an impressive 90 percent of government and public spaces. Advanced lighting tech will be less dominant in homes, according to Lux, with LEDs providing 42 percent of the lighting in the residential market”  GIGAOM

Commercial and public projects are perfect for this stage in the development of LED lighting.  They tend to take a much longer view of costs and are ideally placed to see the savings from LEDs.  Usage is typically high, giving cost savings on energy bills.  Additionally, maintenance and bulb replacement come with real costs (labour as well as materials).

LED Lighting Case Study

Convention Center – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

While building a new convention centre, the City of Raleigh considered and eventually chose LED lighting for the 3 level underground parking deck.  It represented a perfect test bed for LED lighting with the lights on 24 – 7.  You can read the full details of the project here but let’s look at the costs.  The LED systems were compared with the initial specification: 544 fixtures using 175 Watt metal halide lamps. Costs were assessed over a 15 year life cycle:

Capital: (262,000)
Energy Savings: 574,335
Maintenance Savings: 615,163
Replacement Costs: (291,950)
 Total Savings    USD $   635,548

The LED lights had a higher up-front cost but presented considerable energy savings over the lifetime of the assessment.  The metal halide lamps would require replacement every 15 months and are typically replaced upon failure.  This created a considerable cost when labour was taken into account as well as materials.  The LED alternative had a lifespan of 5.7 years and so replacement costs were accounted for in years 6 and 12.  Importantly, the lifespan of LEDs is not measured to failure like traditional bulbs.  At end of life, light output has reduced to 70% rather than 0.  That means no outages.

Interestingly, payback comes in just over 3 years which is pretty good and gives quite a margin for error on the assumptions of lamp life etc.

New technology will always come with concerns. 

Can low watt LED lights really match the performance of the systems they are replacing?

In fact, the Raleigh case study shows better lighting performance than the traditional alternative with better minimum light levels and a more even spread of lighting (eliminating “hot spots” directly under the fixtures). 

Here’s some street lighting examples from Toronto in Canada:


As you can see from the pictures, this pilot scheme from Toronto shows not only savings but also increased lighting quality.

LEDs offer an ideal opportunity for public and commercial projects to save on long-term costs and reduce emissions while maintaining or improving lighting effects.  LEDs are ideal for applications where lights are on for a significant portion of the time and usage is high.  These could include public areas, outdoor lighting, offices, street lights, hotels, hospitals, car parks and many others.  Electricity costs and maintenance will soon mount up.  This shortens the payback time and makes the already strong economic case for LED lights even stronger.  Additionally, public and commercial bodies are increasingly conscious of the environment and the positive PR they can gain from adopting sustainable lighting tehnology and minimising the environmental impact of providing the essential energy consuming resource of lighting.

7 Responses to “LED Lighting – an Ideal Solution for Public Lighting Projects?”

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  7. Perfect for the public and commercial buildings, these lights would be suitable for street lighting using LED that is environment friendly and have more benefits than other Lighting. Nice blog.