According to a study by the University of Colorado, Chicago has the most light-pollution when compared with any other city in the entire world. Chicago is now hoping to put this to an end by completely replacing their 348,500 sodium-vapor outdoor lights, which produce an orange glow, with much more energy-efficient outdoor lighting systems which will utilize LED technology, which produces white light. This change should, in theory, drastically reduce the amount of light pollution because LED lights are typically more directional and can be easily focused downward.
Replacing the sodium-vapor lamps with LED bulbs will also make Chicago’s lighting far less costly and significantly more environmentally friendly. Assuming each of the 348,500 lights are replaced by $300 fixtures, this brings the total to a $100 million dollar investment. Upgrading the outdoor lighting system to LED is expected the save the city a rough approximation of $20 million per year. Compared to a sodium-vapor fixture, LED fixtures have around 6 times the lifespan, so the city will save a large sum of money on bulb and ballast replacement alone. We, at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Cincinnati and Dayton, OH, can save local homeowners a similar amount of money at a smaller scale, with a similar return on investment.
In 2014, the University of Cincinnati and Duke Energy reached an agreement to install hundreds of LED lights around the Cincinnati campus, covering a total of 33 Cincinnati-streets. The reason wasn’t simply to save on energy and maintenance costs, but to increase the safety of the students and local residents. At night, Cincinnati’s Seminole Street had a dim, amber appearance, but the blocks are much brighter with the new lighting. Sally Thelen of Duke Energy describes the stark contrast, saying “What you’ll see is much more natural white light that spreads out a lot more evenly in a larger surface area.”
Angeleah Wells, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati, was skeptical of the new LED lighting system’s ability to deter crime but feels the lights will decrease injuries resulting from accidents, saying “It’ll help me not trip in the dark, but I don’t think that lights are going to deter people from robbing.” Today, crime is at a 10-year low.
In 2015, Cincinnati upgraded to or added LED lights to an additional 30 streets. A resident of Price Hill noted that these new LED streetlights minimize light pollution and glare. He said, “Most of Queensgate is LED now. The difference from high atop Price Hill is noticeable. There’s remarkably less glare and light pollution visible from above when looking at Queensgate.”