Pittsburgh LED Street Lighting Research Project-Remaking Cities Institute - Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh LED Street Lighting Research Project

Outdoor public street lighting systems can account for as much as sixty percent of a municipal government’s total electricity use. New lighting and sensor technologies are being used to reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, and save on energy costs. A major trend in outdoor public street lighting is to use light emitting diode (LED) technology as a means of lowering energy use and overall maintenance costs. North American cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Anchorage, and Toronto are investing millions of dollars on energy-efficient streetlight retrofit/conversion projects. However our literature review and interviews with manufacturers and municipal agencies in cities that have replaced traditional lighting technologies (high pressure sodium, induction, metal halide, mercury vapor) with LED technology indicate that performance issues have been neglected.

The City of Pittsburgh is planning to replace its existing 40,000 street lighting fixtures with LED fixtures and has engaged the Remaking Cities Institute (RCI) to investigate the full range of potential benefits of a replacement program in business districts. The study team investigated the technological potentials offered by LED lighting, best management practices (BMP) in LED lighting and lessons learned from cities where LED lighting has been installed, as well as the place-making and aesthetic impact of LED lighting and associated technologies. The team also investigated issues raised by the use of LEDs as the light source and issues of replacing the existing lighting types and fixtures with equivalent LED fixtures.

Three test sites were selected for more detailed analysis that typify business district lighting situations: Fifth and Forbes Avenues in downtown Pittsburgh for its central business district qualities, Carson Street on the South Side for its mid-size business district qualities in both wide and narrow street sections, and California Avenue in Brighton Heights for its small neighborhood business district qualities.

The Pittsburgh LED Street Lighting Research Project research team included Carnegie Mellon University faculty and researchers from the Remaking Cities Institute, School of Architecture and the School of Drama, as well as lighting consultants from C & C Lighting, LLC in Pittsburgh and Orfield Laboratories, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN.

Download the final report.