Thursday, April 21, 2011

High-Tech Controls Advised for City LED System

The partnership planning Pittsburgh’s new lighting system says LED lights should not only save energy and money for the city, but also enhance quality of life in neighborhoods and business districts.

Unlike many other cities that have already installed LED systems, the partnership between city government and Carnegie Mellon University wants a high level of command over Pittsburgh street lights.

That includes a central control system that could tweak color, intensity, or temperature for every single one of the city’s 40,000 lamps. The experts say that would allow for brighter lights in business districts and dimmer ones in neighborhoods.

The RFP being written by CMU and the city will include several stages. The first step would be to install about 3,000 LED lights in the city’s business districts. Next, the contractor would put in about 35,000 lamps needed for residential areas.

The partnership recommends entirely new lampposts as well as lightbulbs.

Chris Popovich of C&C Lighting says LED lights would also be helpful for emergency situations.

“For example, strobing and flashing, evacuation route designation with chasing LEDs, integration with city fire and police situations,” says Popovich

CMU Professor of Lighting Cindy Limauro says as an option, the city could also include color-changing LEDs on lampposts, which would add to festivals and celebrations. She says the technology would not be very expensive if added to the new lampposts.

The group notes that LED lighting can “wash out” areas in too much light if it’s distributed in a simple, uniform pattern. It’s also more expensive to install than high-pressure sodium bulbs, but the city would save money through energy conservation in the long run.

The lighting code Pittsburgh Council passed last month requires equitable LED lighting for the whole city, per the recommendations of a study commissioned by Council. The RFP is expected to be released late in May.

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