The arguments about LED (light emitting diode) street lighting have been bubbling away for years.
In recent decades, the primary drivers behind street lighting choices have been the dual headlines of ‘credit crunch’ and ‘energy reduction, meaning tight budgeting has sat alongside the need for drastic energy saving solutions.
LEDs were cheap to produce and far more energy efficient – thus ticking both ‘budget’ and “energy efficiency” boxes.
At a time when we were being driven to reduce cost and energy LED streetlights became the “norm”.
LED lights last longer. They also use less energy to run and so cost less in terms of money spent and energy consumption.
However, they were built to deliver in a time of low-cost, high volume. As the technology came into the mainstream there were discussions to be had around the levels of “blue light” and glare that LED street lighting can cause.
The experts at the International Dark Sky Association explain how the ‘blue light’ emitted by LEDs affects the production of melatonin, which induces sleep and boosts the immune system, among other things.
Other complaints about the impact of bright LED street lighting include intrusive glare for users and even into homes.
The time is now.
We have all seen that the market is “bouncing back” this changed the shift from focusing on what used to be cost saving driven, to a high skill and high output agenda. Much like the rest of the economy and coupled with the wider ambitions of DFL. We must deliver the right solutions at the right time.
Lighting installations must no longer be designed purely based on energy efficiency and cost.
We are now in 2022. Technology, knowledge and resources have developed dramatically in the last decade, and we must learn to think longer term and wider reaching. Town planning is focusing increasingly on human needs and the impact on wildlife – both of which affect our communities.
Its time to move away from data metrics such as Lumens per watt and Kelvin. Don’t get us wrong, we still need to meet recognised standards, but we must think about how lighting can invite people to enjoy the night-time environment more and critically, feel safe to use it when they want.
The headline fact is that the industry did well to typically reduce street lighting energy bills by 60-70% in less than a decade. But now let’s find a way to trade a few % of energy for a wealth of urban and ecological improvement.
Let’s now chase a higher quality night-time environment for all. Change the shift from cost reduction to user comfort. As a nation we need to get greener, more active, and more ecologically minded. As an industry, let’s move forward and now make this centre of the street lighting agenda.
I told you so!
Inevitably This phrase will be used.
We cannot, however, lose sight of the steps taken and the progress made.
Technology evolves. Market forces change and when there is the shakeup of a global pandemic and a climate crisis. There should always be a chance to improve.
There will always be the point made about why “why has it taken so long” but we all must consider that innovation is based on progress not perfection.
Consider where local Authority Street lighting bills might be now if they were all still Sodium lamps waiting for the perfect solution.
Some will say. “We have been shouting about this for years”. We have seen the discussion, we have been listening to all sides and are trying to understand market needs, the demands on cost reduction and products on the market. We have not been ignoring this, we have been listening. Taking information on board and using it to promote better ideas and solutions.
Now as we progress it is time for the next chapter in the Street lighting market. Let’s really start to think SMART with our lighting solution for the public environment.