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Oct 182010

Salt Lake City is switching to high efficiency LED street lights.

From Green Right Now Reports

Salt Lake City will soon join the ranks of cities moving to LEDs to light city streets. Compared with traditional high pressure sodium (HPS) street lights, LEDs are more efficient, provide more uniform light distribution and increase light levels.

Lighting Science Group, which will provide the new system, estimates Salt Lake City will save tens of thousands of dollars each year in energy and maintenance costs. The project is being paid for using Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The Lighting Science Prolific Series street lights look great, we will have less outages, and we are saving energy and money,” Mike Barry, transportation engineer for the Salt Lake City Transportation Division, said in a statement. “Retrofitting existing HPS street lights with Lighting Science LED street lights will reduce the city’s annual energy consumption by 885,271 kilowatt hours, eliminating approximately 636 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year.”

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce light by passing a one-way electric current through a semiconductor material. As the electricity is transferred through the semiconductor diode from one electrical terminal to another, it releases energy in the form of light. Conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps work by heating a filament or gas to a temperature that produces light. While LEDs, like other lamps, release heat as well as light, they are considered far more efficient because they produce more light per watt of energy consumed.

“With rising energy costs across world, cities like Salt Lake City are looking for ways save energy,” Zach Gibler, CEO of Lighting Science Group Corporation, said in a statement. “The LED street lights provided will improve both the environment and the city’s bottom line by delivering a 50 percent energy savings over HPS street lights and will last approximately 5 times as long.”

Oct 042010

This LED uses just 6 watts.

From Green Right Now Reports

As with other technologies, advances in lighting just keep coming. Now that you’re somewhat comfortable with CFL — compact fluorescent lamp — bulbs, get ready for things to change again.

The latest generation of LEDs — light-emitting diodes — are here and manufacturers claim they rival the look, dimming ability, and light quality of incandescents. Better yet, LEDs contain no mercury, and last up to five times longer than CFLs and 50 times longer than incandescents. They are pricey — many sell for $60 or more — but one can save about $300 in electrical costs over its life compared with an incandescent.

Until recently, LEDs lagged in light output and were considered useful mainly for task and exhibit lighting. But ENERGY STAR notes now that LED lighting is more efficient and versatile than incandescent and fluorescent lighting. LEDs emit light in a specific direction, whereas an incandescent or fluorescent bulb emits light — and heat — in all directions.

LED lighting uses both light and energy more efficiently. For example, an incandescent or CFL bulb inside of a recessed can fixture will waste about half of the light it produces, while a recessed down light with LEDs only produces light where it’s needed — in the room below.

Other key features of LED lighting include:

  • Reduces energy costs — uses at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, saving on operating expenses.
  • Reduces maintenance costs — lasts 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and about 2 to 5 times longer than fluorescent lighting. No bulb-replacements, no ladders, no ongoing disposal program.
  • Reduces cooling costs — LEDs produce very little heat.
  • Is guaranteed — comes with a minimum three-year warranty — far beyond the industry standard.
  • Offers convenient features — available with dimming on some indoor models and automatic daylight shut-off and motion sensors on some outdoor models.
  • Is durable and won’t break as easily as a bulb.

Here are few models that we found — and not all of them are as costly as we’ve been warned:

Sep 092010

From Green Right Now Reports

Who says it too expensive to change out the bulbs?

Cree LEDs are more energy efficient and cooler than the halogens they're replacing. (Photo: Cree.)

Not the Furniture Row Companies, a large family-owned retailer with 330 stores across the U.S., which is switching its showroom lighting to Cree Inc. LED lights

So far, Furniture Row has installed about 13,000 Cree LRP-38 LED spotlights, out of more than 80,000 planned, at its stores, which include the Sofa Mart®, Oak Express®, Bedroom Expressions® and Denver Mattress Company®.

Rod Schnurr, store planning coordinator, said the family wanted to be good “environmental stewards”, but also wanted to remain  “fiscally responsible.” Finally, the stores needed quality lights to properly showcase the woods and fabrics within the room vignettes.

While 11-watt Cree lights that are replacing 90-watt halogen bulbs do cost more upfront than some other options, but they provide superior lighting and long term energy savings. They produce less heat, which saves on air conditioning costs, according to Cree and Furniture Row.

The first Furniture Row Shopping Center to install Cree LED lights saved $4,200 on monthly energy costs compared to what the store paid using the previous  lighting, Schnurr said.

The Cree lights also are expected to last 50,000 hours, far more than the halogens they’re replacing, according to a Cree news release.

LEDs are popping on in other applications, and faring well when compared to other bulbs, including passing muster against compact fluorescents in recent Consumer Reports tests.

Aug 262010

By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

OK, so you’ve done the environmentally correct thing and replaced most of your incandescent bulbs with CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs).

CFLs save up to 75 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs.

CFLs use less electricity and as a result, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In an average home, lighting accounts for about a fifth of the electric bill. Because CFLs use about 75 percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs — and last about 10 times longer, it just makes sense to switch.

If every home in the United States replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), enough energy would be saved to light more than 3 million homes for a year. At the same time, this action would cut back greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of about 800,000 cars annually.

But despite their longevity, CFLs eventually do burn out.

And they cannot be tossed in the garbage and added to the landfill because of that pesky small amount of mercury they contain. This mercury, about 4-5 milligrams – just enough to cover a ballpoint pen tip, is sealed within the glass tubing. It is an essential part of CFLs, part of what makes them efficient, explains EPA spokesperson Cathy Milburn, and none of this mercury is released when the bulbs are intact and in use.

But, it wouldn’t be safe to let it leach out into the landfill. So those burned out CFLs piling up in a bag in your laundry room must be recycled.

Look first for local options. Home Depot appears to be leading the way on this front. Beginning in June 2008, Home Depot introduced a free in-store CFL recycling program at all of its stores. Customers bring their spent CFL bulbs to the return desk where they are then handled by an environmental management company. The company packages the bulbs, transports and recycles them.

“The CFL recycling program,” says senior vice president Ron Jarvis, “…empowers customers to make a difference in their own homes and have less of an impact on the environment.”

IKEA, the Swedish-based furniture and accessories store, also offers a Free Take Back recycling program that includes putting a bin for recyclables, including CFLs, in every store.

EPA is working with CFL manufacturers to widen recycling opportunities. Check out www.earth911.com to locate community recycling centers.

The Lighting Research Center, part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a non-profit group that studies the effective use of lighting and its environmental impact. LRC also urges the public to refrain from disposing of CFLs with the household garbage and to instead take advantage of local recycling programs, says Mary Cimo, manager of research communications at the LRC.

The LRC also has a list of tips for consumers looking to purchase a CFLs.

Makers of CFLs have not overly helpful in making disposal suggestions. General Electric, for instance, simply says “And at the end of its life, a CFL bulb is fully recyclable and most cities, counties, and states make this fairly easy to do.” Similarly, Philips says to “look to your community for household hazardous waste recycling programs.” The manufacturer adds that consumers should always seal used bulbs in a plastic bag when dropping them off. Philips notes that more and more retailers may offer recycling, now that the demand for CFLs is increasing.

But as CFL demand increases, a new generation of efficient bulbs awaits – LED (light-emitting diodes) light bulbs. How will we deal with them? In another story…..

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

Jul 142010

By Billi London-Gray
Green Right Now

San Francisco, the city that banned plastic bags, bottled water and Styrofoam, is taking another big step down the path to sustainable urban living. In March 2011, the City of San Francisco will begin installing more than 17,000 LED street lighting fixtures, effectively replacing most city-owned street lamps.

LED street lamp being installed in San Francisco (Photo: Jon Manzo)

LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, produce light by passing a one-way electric current through a semiconductor material. As the electricity is transferred through the semiconductor diode from one electrical terminal to another, it releases energy in the form of light. Conventional incandescent and fluorescent lamps work by heating a filament or gas to a temperature that produces light. While LEDs, like other lamps, release heat as well as light, they are considered far more efficient because they produce more light per watt of energy consumed.

San Francisco will join the growing list of American cities that are switching to LED street light fixtures, which combine an array of dozens of individual LEDs to produce light similar to that of a high-intensity discharge lamp. Seattle, Anchorage and Los Angeles already have LED fixtures in place. Many other U.S. cities, including New York, are testing LED street lighting to determine the potential savings.

Amanda Townsend, manager of commercial programs at the Dallas-based sustainability consulting firm Geavista Group, has worked on many large-scale commercial lighting projects. She explains their many environmental benefits:

  • LEDs are directional and point light only where needed, saving energy and reducing light pollution.
  • LEDs, unlike CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs, do not contain mercury, a toxic chemical that requires costly disposal plans.
  • LEDs last a long time, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.
  • LEDs illuminate on demand – “instant on and instant off.”

Mayor Newsom announcing the San Francisco's LED streetlight program, and inaugurating the first installation.

San Francisco’s upcoming street lighting retrofit project is not the first LED installation by the city. The Davies Symphony Hall and the city offices at 1660 Mission were equipped with LED light fixtures in recent years. Additionally, the Main Public Library is a testing ground for a pilot project using LED wall fixtures.

The city began evaluating LED street lighting in 2008, says Sue Black, power utility services manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. She credits Mayor Gavin Newsom with prioritizing the change in order to reduce the city’s environmental footprint and save money.

“To my knowledge, the City of San Francisco will be the first city in the United States to implement a complete city-wide conversion of its cobra-head style, high pressure sodium fixtures to LED fixtures,” Black said. “Our other inventory of approximately 7,000 post-top and pendant-style street lights will be converted at a later time, when more product choices are available that will meet our performance requirements.”

The estimated price tag for San Francisco’s LED conversion is $16 million. Black stated that energy savings alone could approach $550,000 per year after the conversion, plus another $350,000 each year in operations and maintenance savings due to the expected 20-year lifespan of the LED fixtures. The installation is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2012. Black estimated that the payback period for the project would be around 13 years.

“Our goal is to achieve an overall energy savings of 50 percent,” Black said. San Francisco will combine the LED installation with a new “smart control system” to further increase the energy savings. By instantly analyzing a variety of data from fixture locations, the new system will increase the efficiency of maintenance on the lights while decreasing energy demand as light levels are adjusted.

“The smart control system will provide the city with the ability to remotely monitor individual street light performance, adjust the light intensity level, and receive real time information when lights have failed,” Black said. For some LED fixtures, the smart control system can also be used increase light output for special events or dim the lights for periods of inactivity.

To cities undertaking large-scale retrofitting projects like street lighting conversions, LED fixtures are an attractive lighting option. “We have had discussions with many cities about the results from our pilot projects and progress,” Black said. “Many cities have existing pilot and small-scale permanent installations and plan to convert their fixtures over time.”

But LEDs are not the best lighting solution for everyone looking to cut energy usage. LEDs may not provide enough light in some situations, such as streets with widely spaced lamp posts, bright office work spaces or residential settings where multi-directional light is the norm. This could undercut the energy saving benefits of LEDs.

“In general, an individual LED may use less energy … but it’s probably creating less light,” said John Bullough, a lighting technology expert and senior research scientist at the Lighting Research Center in Troy, N.Y. “You won’t get the same amount of light by using less energy … LEDs potentially use three or four times less energy, but it depends on how well it’s designed.”

LEDtronics street lights in Torrance, VA near Torrance West High School (Photo LEDtronics)

In Bullough’s opinion, LED fixtures must stand the test of time before their benefits can be realistically calculated. “They haven’t really been around long enough to know which ones will last and which ones will not,” he said. “There’s no real world confirmation yet.”

Townsend of Geavista Group pointed out that even for small-scale residential applications, LED fixtures cannot yet equal the light output of conventional lighting, such as incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lighting. Standard socket-based light bulbs have a light output of 700 to 800 lumens, Townsend said. “Until recently, LED bulbs had a difficult time achieving more than 400 lumens. The LED bulbs that you see for $7 are not going to perform nearly as well as a CFL or incandescent.”

However, LED technology is developing at a rapid pace. Both Bullough and Townsend said that as more government and commercial projects adopt the technology, better LED products will prove themselves in the real world.

“It’s definitely improving very quickly,” Bullough said. “It’s getting a lot of investment from the lighting industry and government research. It’s pretty exciting from a lighting point of view.”

Bullough explained that LED technology has revived research in the lighting industry by introducing an alternative to the types of lighting that had been standard since the 1960s. “Up until 10 years ago, change in lighting technology was slow … LEDs are changing the technology a lot.”

Other Resources:

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

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Jun 172009

By Diane Porter
Green Right Now

Deb Lovig’s official title at Cree, the lighting and semiconductor company, is “LED Programs Evangelist.” The description fits. Ask her to pick a favorite project and she’ll name five before you get her stopped. She’ll skip from North Carolina State’s dorm lighting project (see picture, right) to the University of California-Davis’ smart parking garage to Notre Dame’s beautiful acorn-shaped fixtures without taking a breath.

The projects are all part of Cree’s “LED University,” a program that combines the company’s expertise with university situations and helps campuses figure out how to begin evaluating LED lighting projects for themselves. While many organizations know that LED lighting is less expensive and lasts longer than conventional lighting, they aren’t sure where to take it from there. Interior projects? Exterior security? A total campus makeover?

“The biggest issue I see besides price is just not knowing how to start,” Lovig said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, is just get people to get started.”

The motivation is there, certainly. As LED (light-emitting diode) technology continues to develop in brightness and color, it is becoming a darling in the green market. LED devices reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption, and contain no mercury. And they can make a big difference in an electric bill, partly because they consume less energy and partly because they can last for as many as 20-25 years.

Take the South Entry Parking Structure at UC-Davis, for example. You might not think it’s a very exciting project, but Prof. Michael Siminovitch, the director of the university’s Lighting Technology Center, would disagree.

“Parking garages are kind of unique,” Siminovitch said. “Parking garages are pretty intensive energy users because it’s 24/7, and they’ve got some real safety and security issues. LEDs are really suited to smart applications. You can have controls that respond to occupancy.”

The lights in the garage can be set at half-power, increasing to full power when sensors detect people or movement within.

“It’s a real opportunity to demonstrate effectiveness of new technology,” Siminovitch said.

And an opportunity to illustrate cost efficiency as well, considering that lighting accounts for 20 percent of the overall energy use in a building, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics.

“The numbers that we’ve presented to the vice chancellor, we’re talking statewide about 50 percent savings. And while we usually associate (cost savings) with having to do without, this is not the case. Here it’s not how much lighting, it’s more the quality of the lighting. Lighting that improves safety, essentially.”

Apr 292009

From Green Right Now Reports:

Lighting and energy experts have been scratching their heads for sometime over how to make LED lighting as effective and pleasant as CFLs, because LEDs are even more energy efficient than CFLs.

Renaissance Lighting, based in Herndon, Va., appears to be inching forward in this effort. The company will be showcasing its new, all white solid-state LED downlight fixtures at the LIGHTFAIR International 2009 at the Javits Center in New York City. The new fixtures are brighter than ever and have two and half times greater efficacy.

The new white downlights are available in a full range of light color temperatures and use Constructice Occlustion technology, which produces a uniform, glare-free and efficient output. LED lighting provides an alternative to energy-efficient CFL bulbs, which contain small amounts of  mercury.

“In less than a year Renaissance Lighting’s products have made significant gains in breadth, value, price, efficiency, output and overall performance,” said Barry Weinbaum, CEO, in a statement. Technology in the LED lights is still evolving. These lights are available for commercial projects, but not yet available for every day home use.

The LIGHTFAIR International, is a three-day lighting industry trade show and confrence.