Street lighting energy costs represent one of the largest components of the City of Los Angeles’ street lighting expenses. Against the backdrop of increasing energy costs and the beginning of the recession in 2009, the City looked to strategize cost cutting measures while still trying to deliver customer services. The testing of LED fixtures offered the potential to develop a large-scale program that would result in significant energy reduction while contributing to meeting the City’s goal for reduction in carbon emissions.
In 2007, the City of Los Angeles released the ‘Green LA: An Action Plan to Lead the Nation in Fighting Global Warming.’ This climate action plan sets forth a goal of reducing the City’s greenhouse gas emissions to 35 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, one of the most aggressive goals of any big city in the U.S. The Bureau of Street Lighting complements this plan in the following ways:
- Use of LED technology provides energy savings of more than 63 percent and a savings of $8 million in energy costs.
- Life expectancy of LED fixtures totals more than 150,000 hours, greatly reducing the City’s maintenance costs and providing more reliable lighting.
- Annual reduction of CO2 emissions translates to 10,500 cars off the road and enough energy to provide electricity to 6,800 homes.
In 2009, the city of Los Angeles initiated the retrofit program by converting 140,000 of the City’s existing street lighting fixtures to LED. To date, the LED Street Lighting Conversion Project is the largest LED retrofit ever undertaken globally.
Community outreach was an essential component during the planning stages of the LED Conversion Project. Several pilot projects were tested in different neighborhoods and hundreds of surveys were evaluated to determine the color temperature of the new LED lighting. The program has received unexpected praise from residents who have been vocal in their support for the new lighting.
In addition, the Los Angeles Police Department has stated that safety has improved across neighborhoods in the City, and the increased lighting has assisted helicopter operators during nighttime operations. From 2009 to 2013, citywide crime statistics show a decline in incidents between 7p.m. and 7a.m. (theft from vehicle: -12.7%; burglary/robbery/theft: -8.9%; and vandalism: -16.1%).
The retrofit project enhanced the quality of municipal street lighting in the City, reduced energy consumption to 63 percent, reduced light pollution and improved street safety. The program also resulted in a reduction of 50,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, furthering the City’s goal of being the greenest city in the country. The Bureau is formulating a second phase to the project to replace other styles of lighting fixtures over the next five to ten years.
Aside from environmental and cost benefits, light pollution also greatly decreased and the quality of street lighting improved. The wider benefits of providing state of the art LED lighting results in increased public safety and more reliable lighting that is monitored electronically, thereby minimizing down time due to equipment failure and accidents.