By 2017, the spectral glow of New York City metal halide and sodium vapor streetlights will be replaced by the clean, bright white light of LED bulbs. The approximately 250,000 lights represent the largest retrofit in the nation and are predicted to save the city $14 million per year. In addition to providing a significant cost reduction to the city’s energy costs, the lights also contribute to the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from government operations.
The city has already replaced lights along Roosevelt Drive, Eastern Parkway, and in areas of Central Park through pilot programs that demonstrate the immediacy of cost savings and reliability of the lights. The outcome of those retrofits established LED bulbs as a win-win solution that is politically feasible due to the quick return on investment through savings. Similar projects in London, Toronto, Hong Kong, Sydney, and many others have yet to spur governments to widely adopt LED bulbs. The feasibility for New York came from the steadily decreasing cost of LED bulbs, which may also encourage other cities to follow in the years ahead.
The project is the first funded through the newly created Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency initiative (ACE), which was created by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to finance sustainability projects. “The ACE Program overall is expected to contribute 5 percent of the City governments overall 30 percent reduction by 2017,” said DCAS commissioner Edna Wells-Handy, or 16.6 percent of the total goal. This is one of the many programs that came from the PlaNYC initiative that has encouraged major steps towards a more sustainable New York.