Lighting the Way

While most Climate Change abatement is focused on the deployment of renewable energy, the real solution will in fact be from energy efficiency according to studies. Illumination sustainability is one of the new strategic fronts for municipal management, with a need to balance cost efficiency, maintenance and pollution at the macro level environmental effects with micro-level considerations on lighting quality, suitability, security and well-being. The City of Copenhagen in Europe is among global cities leading the way in energy efficiency initiatives with the latest “Green Wave” in the implementation of LED lighting across the city. LED lighting deployment is being taken by storm given its ultra-efficient, long-life, cost efficient, low waste sustainable characteristics.

pic lighting

Copenhagen’s LED lighting paths spaced at intervals with sufficient road space to accommodate cyclists in smooth journeys.

LED is considered to be one of the most effective public space lighting options for many of these reasons and in the case of Copenhagen they have creatively used them as road markers for cyclists. In a string of green intervals across the city-centre, LED bike paths make for smoother cycling and improved environmentally friendly mobility with in-built technology to flash and warn cyclists of up-coming red traffic lights while also suggesting alternative paths for common routes. The ability for LEDs to dim more efficiently in comparison to other lighting forms has pushed its eco-credential further with bike and street LEDs brightening as vehicles and cyclists approach with roadside sensors. This unique function is particularly revolutionary to combat light pollution effects on nearby nature reserves and ecosystems that become distorted with bright lights.

For reference I have included some of the key factors in sustainable lighting strategy that were drawn from the Abu Dhabi lighting project:

• Ensuring targeted more people-oriented design for roadway and pavement lighting that is long-term and environmentally-friendly;
• Install caps over free-standing bulbs to direct the light downwards to the target source to improve efficiency and reduce light pollution;
• Conduct public consultations to understand the effects of light-pollution and to determine ambient lighting levels in public spaces to increase liveability, security and wellbeing;
• Plan and design lighting systems with care on local landmarks, cultural characteristics of cities and ecosystem effects;
• Optimise the use of efficient LED and low-energy alternatives while incorporating control and sensor technologies for infrastructure intelligence and lighting uniformity;
• Establish performance standards and benchmarks for external lighting with design guidance provided to asset owners;
• Return road lighting back to asset owners such as municipalities to ensure standardisation and efficiency in infrastructure management;
• Integrate dimming and other energy saving technology away from traditional high-mast road lighting.

Before Illumination Strategy
After Illumination Strategy
Abu Dhabi illumination strategy at a local roundabout, where the before and after effects can be observed, note the lighting comfort and ambient levels after altering light positions and targeting roundabout elements.

To read more about Copenhagen’s LED Strategy see below:

cycle bridge

The Hovenring, an innovative Circular Cycle Bridge in the Netherlands build in 2012.

The Copenhagen LED street network is planned to roll-out new functions such as sanitation department alerts to indicate full trash cans (also which funnily are tilted to cyclists to allow them to throw out rubbish on their journey) and also potentially collect data for administrators. The City also plans to use wireless sensors to track bus and bike movements and give priority to their journeys as well as recognising large cyclist groups and holding traffic lights green. The LED paths flash to warn other vehicles of on-coming cyclists that could fail to be seen in their blind spot to reduce right-turn accidents. LED can similarly be more dynamic in monitoring traffic flow and could even become smart lane markings for drivers to isolate and change how the road is allocated for vehicles. In many European cities, freight is often isolated to one side of the road to prevent accidents, blind spot challenges and also more efficiently manage freight flow. In many Asia-Pacific cities, freight movements could be isolated to certain times during the day and for the remaining part, private vehicles could occupy the road space.


By Grant Duthie
Grant is from Australia and is a graduate in economics focusing on sustainability and human development. He has a unique insight into urban structures and social living environments as Australia has some of the most liveable cities in the Asia-Pacific region as well as strong experience in sub-tropical city design.

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