Pittsburgh City Council has taken the first step toward creating the city’s first-ever lighting code and at the same time moved down the path toward installing new LED streetlights in every business district.
In May of 2008, the city launched a test project to install LED streetlights on half of Walnut Street in Shadyside. The experiment was well received by most and since then, various council members have been pushing for more. The city is sitting on an $800 thousand state grant to help put new lights in all of the city’s approximately 30 business districts and councilman Bill Peduto says the grant expires if the work is not put out to bid this spring. “Our goal is to get this lighting code passed, be able to then to go forward in April with Carnegie Mellon University, who we have hired as part of that grant, to map out what that new lighting system would look like for all of our business districts and by June to issue the first [request for proposal] to begin the installation of those lights,” says Peduto.
Council gave preliminary approval to the bill this morning and will hold a post agenda meeting with CMU representatives to discuss the lighting code and the initial project.
Peduto says part of the code must address what he calls “equity of lighting.” “In certain neighborhoods you see street lights at every telephone poll, in other neighborhoods you only see one street light at the intersection,” says Peduto. The councilman believes some neighborhoods are overly lit while some neighborhoods are too dark. The plan would take into account the type of activity in a neighborhood when setting lighting standard.
Two years ago the university of Pittsburgh took a look at what types of lighting is best, “cradle to grave,” from an environmental standpoint. At the time, LEDs were deemed to be the best and Peduto says it was determined that the city could trim 50% from its streetlight electricity bill by installing LED fixtures. “Today those estimates are over 70%,” says Peduto. He says maintenance costs can be cut by 75%, “Where we replace light bulbs every other year, we wont have to for about 8-10 years” with LED.
The goal is to start installing the lights in the fall and then begin looking for grants to outfit residential neighborhoods. A portion of the business district lighting will be paid for through a city budget fund filled through savings from other energy efficiency efforts.