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LED Lighting & the Presidential Challenge | E-conolight

Streetlights date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, when they were lit manually using oil and gas lamps. Streetlights have made huge strides since then, but they still serve the same fundamental purpose of keeping citizens safe and active at times when there is otherwise no available illumination. Streetlights are so essential in the United States that they are estimated to use as much energy as six million households and cost local governments more than $10 billion dollars a year—averaging out to account for approximately 25-50% of municipal energy consumption. Modern LED luminaires, however, have the potential to reduce this number by more than half and to create a reduction of more than 369,000 tons of emissions each year.

LED Technology: An Advanced Solution

Alas, LED technology has advanced so quickly that awareness has lagged. In fact, as of 2012, LEDs accounted for only 2% of the total installed 44 million streetlight fixtures. Many city leaders find it difficult to rationalize the initial cost of implementing major retrofit when the current streetlight system is essentially functional.

In order to shed light on the financial and civic gains to be made by converting streetlights to more efficient LED technologies, the Obama administration has implemented the Presidential Challenge for Outdoor Lighting which aims to triple the DOE Better Buildings program of upgrading 500,000 to 1.5 million poles by May of 2016. City officials who pledge to engage in the process of updating streetlights are identified as Outdoor Lighting Accelerator Partners, and work closely with the DOE to effectively and practically execute the transition. In addition to providing technical assistance to Outdoor Lighting Accelerator Partners, the DOE also promises to “provide national recognition to Accelerator Partners for their leadership in addressing these issues.”

Presidential Lighting Challenge: Rethinking More Efficient Community Lighting Solutions

On the whole, the Presidential Challenge has been successful in encouraging municipalities to rethink their streetlight fixtures. At present, over 600 U.S. cities have installed or plan to install LED streetlights with smart cities quite literally illuminating the way. Cities with higher IQs have the highest adoption rates when it comes to replacing old streetlight technology with energy efficient LEDs. These smart adaptors like Seattle and San Francisco, and leading cities like Raleigh, have brought to light the practical incentives of Accelerator Partnerships, such as decreased energy costs and less expensive system maintenance. Investing in LED luminaries that reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and realize drastic communal savings surely seems like the smart choice to us.

For more information on becoming an Outdoor Lighting Accelerator Partner or for further information on current partners visit the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings website at