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LED Street Lighting Retrofit Survey for Small Municipalities

Friday, March 24, 2017

In this article written for TAC News, Mark Hearson, Transport Infrastructure Specialist, FireSeeds North Infrastructure, provides an account of survey results on LED street lighting for small municipalities. Prepared on behalf of TAC’s Small Municipalities Task Force, this article is part of a series of feature articles on the issues and challenges affecting smaller communities.

In response to jurisdictional concerns regarding the implementation of new LED street lighting, the Small Municipalities Task Force and Fireseeds North Infrastructure, an engineering firm focused on impact and innovation in the transportation sector, surveyed small municipalities in summer of 2016.

The survey centred on:

  • current street lighting practices;
  • proposed changes to street lighting;
  • impacts of street lighting practices and various technologies, and
  • public feedback.

A total of 59 jurisdictions responded to the survey, including over 20 cities, and 30 towns and municipalities. While most respondents have direct or full authority over street lighting, approximately 20% provided an alternative perspective in cases where a provincial utility oversees street lighting.

The survey identified high costs as the largest issue throughout Canada. Other common issues included concerns for environmental factors (such as light pollution and emissions), concerns for road safety and personal security, dark spots, and operational issues.

The primary reason for considering a retrofit was energy savings. The majority of these respondents cited a lack in funding or a low expected return on investment for not moving ahead. Energy savings claims were substantiated through data showing savings between 30 and 75%, however it is important to note that cost savings were not proportional to energy savings in all cases.

No jurisdiction listed road safety and/or personal security as factors for initiating a retrofit. One jurisdiction noted a reduction in collisions along retrofitted corridors and two jurisdictions noted a reduction in crime. These responses, coupled with a lack of before-and-after and similar academic studies, highlights a need for further research.

Specification of a maximum correlated colour temperature (CCT) remains a major challenge for most jurisdictions. Only seven respondents could provide a maximum CCT specification, which ranged from 3000k to 4500k. The remainder of respondents did not have a maximum CCT specification or the specification was unknown. Further research is needed on the health and environmental impacts of various CCT values; five jurisdictions have taken steps towards determining maximum CCT specifications through trials, public consultation, and financial and in-kind support of research initiatives.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting Mark Hearson, Transport Infrastructure Specialist at mark.hearson@fireseedsnorth.ca