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How smart LED lighting and city data can help cities achieve carbon emission goals

A new report produced jointly by Philips Lighting and the World Council on City Data (WCCD) reveals how cities worldwide could reduce energy consumption as well as carbon emissions substantially by introducing smart LED street lighting systems.

Representatives of Philips Lighting recently made a presentation at the United Nations, appearing during the ‘Local 2030: Hub for Sustainability Solutions’ Special Event at the UN Headquarters in New York. The presentation underlined the need for high-calibre data to understand the value of LED systems and how their partnership with the WCCD is addressing this need in collaboration with cities around the world.

The report, titled ‘The Citywide Benefits of Smart & Connected Public Lighting’ by Philips Lighting and WCCD, cites the example of the city of Los Angeles, which achieved energy savings of 63% in 2016 by implementing a smart LED system. The city was able to save USD 9 million and reduce its annual greenhouse gas emissions associated with public lighting by 47,000 metric ton, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from almost 10,000 passenger vehicles in one year.

By adopting similar smart LED street lighting systems, cities around the world could make vast reductions in their annual emissions and expenditure on electricity.

Additionally, better quality lighting could also reduce crime rates and improve citizen perceptions of safety, says the report. Los Angeles observed a 10.5% drop in crime rates for offences such as vehicle theft, burglary and vandalism in the first two years of its LED conversion program.

Other benefits of connected LED street lighting listed in the report include improvements in traffic safety for all road users, city attractiveness and economic strength. With these benefits being produced over and above emission reductions, smart LED lighting will also make a major contribution to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a globally-agreed set of targets for moving to a sustainable future by 2030.

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public and Government Affairs, Philips Lighting observes that city authorities face complex and challenging choices concerning infrastructure, balancing the need to maintain existing services while investing in improvements, managing population growth and enhancing sustainability – all within tight budget constraints. The operation and maintenance of street lighting is a major cost that contributes to these challenges for local authorities.

However, new technologies are transforming the way cities can deliver, operate and maintain public lighting, generating a wide range of benefits to the local authorities and the communities they serve.

Of approximately 300 million streetlights across the world, only about 10% are energy-efficient LEDs, and just 2% are connected. Calling for all cities to adopt 100% LED streetlights by 2025, Verhaar said combining energy-efficient lighting with connected system management can deliver energy savings of up to 80%, contributing significantly to the climate change targets.

Lighting currently accounts for 15% of global electricity consumption; by switching to LEDs, lighting’s share of power consumption would fall to just 8%.

The report presents a measurement framework that can monitor and evaluate city-level impacts of smart and connected lighting investments, arguing that the adoption of standardised city data will help to inform infrastructure investment and decision-making and build the investment case for smart technology projects.

The WCCD has been mapping its ISO 37120 standard to the 17 themes of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in order to support cities in taking a leadership position to address these goals.

Dr Patricia McCarney, President & CEO, WCCD explains that the ISO 37120 standard being implemented by the WCCD with cities globally defines a comprehensive set of 100 standardised indicators that enables any city, of any size, to assess their performance and measure progress over time in a way that can be accurately benchmarked and compared with other cities.

Observing that this data could clearly quantify how investments can improve infrastructure service levels across a city and deliver benefits to its inhabitants, she added that high calibre city data that is globally standardised is critical for city leaders to monitor progress on these global goals, benchmark performance and learn lessons from all international regions.

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