Chicago has completed a massive streetlight modernisation project that has improved the quality of night-time visibility throughout the city and is projected to save taxpayers US$100 million in electricity costs over the next ten years.
The Chicago Smart Lighting Program (CSLP) – primarily executed by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) – replaced 280,000 high-pressure sodium lights with new LED lights that use less energy and can alert work crews if they burn out.
Wireless nodes are attached to each fixture to create a network that detects streetlight outages, automatically creates repair tickets, and assigns repair crews to the location.
The more efficient lights have already cut the city’s electricity bill in half – saving more than US$8 million last year, in addition to the US$34 million in rebates it received from utilities firm ComEd for switching the lights.
“Creation of the lighting management system puts us in the forefront of smart cities around the nation,” said CDOT Commissioner Gia Biagi.
“The programme has made Chicago a greener city and is providing clearer, more reliable night-time lighting in every neighbourhood.
“And the smart lighting management is making our operations more efficient, enabling our workforce to respond to outages more quickly when they occur.”
The project claims to be the “largest and most reliable smart technology infrastructure system” in the US and establishes a national model for other cities as they update their streetlights.
Created in collaboration with the City’s Department of Assets, Information, and Services (AIS), the system relies on wireless nodes attached to each fixture.
The prime contractor for the US$160-million project was engineering firm Ameresco Inc.
In designing the programme, the City prioritised hiring diverse subcontractors and emphasised the importance of job creation for Chicago residents.
The programme set a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) participation goal of 26 percent and a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) participation goal of six percent, both of which were exceeded.
In addition, it included a requirement that 50 percent of the workforce consist of Chicago residents and 10 percent of workers come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
“We commend the City of Chicago and its leadership for completing a project that has become a blueprint for future smart lighting implementations,” said Lou Maltezos, Executive Vice President of Ameresco.
“One of the major benefits of the Chicago Smart Lighting Program is, of course, the energy savings which then translates into cost savings, and ultimately a reduction in the city’s carbon footprint.
“The carbon reduction impact of this project is significant and estimated to offset more than 134,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide or the equivalent of powering 16,000 homes’ energy use for one year.”
Image: Randy (Flickr)
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