The Texan City of Houston aims to retrofit 165,000 street lights over the next three years, making it the largest such project in the USA and cutting street lighting electricity use in half.

The Challenge

As this project has been a partnership with the private utility company, CenterPoint Energy, it highlights that energy efficiency upgrades are not only necessary for environmental sustainability but make a strong and compelling business case. By learning from other best practice cases and taking time to run multiple successful pilots, this partnership proves that energy-efficient LED conversion can appeal to multiple bottom lines.

The Solution

In 2014, the City of Houston partnered with CenterPoint Energy to convert approximately 165,000 street lights from high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and metal halide to LED technology. As the largest LED street light conversion in the USA, this project will reduce Houston’s street light electricity usage by approximately 50% and reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. In the process, the conversion will save the city more than $1.4 million annually in electricity savings. Thirty-five thousand street lights have already been converted, with the remainder planned for the next three years.

While CO2 reductions and energy efficiency are the primary goals of this project, converting conventional street lights to LEDs has the added benefits of increasing the quality of outdoor lighting and safety of public spaces. The project builds on a 2009 partnership with Siemens, in which the city retrofitted more than 40,000 traffic lights and 7,000 pedestrian signals, saving nearly 10 million Wh of electricity and $1.3 million annually.

Environmental Benefits – Nearly 60 million kWh will be reduced annually through the LED street light conversion.

Social Benefits – The project promotes safety and comfort in the city by improving nighttime visibility, producing more uniform lighting distribution, and eliminating dark areas between light fixtures.

Economic Benefits – The LED street light project will save the city more than $28 million over the life of the LEDs.

Health Benefits – Once completed, the LED conversion will reduce the amount of mercury in the environment by 7,255 grams annually.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Social
Key Impact
38,000 metric tons of CO2 reduced annually once LED installation is complete
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