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Echelon: Bellingham, Wash., Is a City with an Illuminated Mission


Imagine: 26 million aging streetlights in U.S. cities generating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 2.6 million cars and consuming as much electricity annually as 1.9 million households.

These aging lights — typically identified as the yellow-hued, high-pressure sodium fixtures — cost cities an estimated $2 billion in energy plus another $4-6 billion in maintenance costs each year. 

The good news: Cities are changing. Globally, cities are upgrading their lighting infrastructure to save energy and money as well as creating a safer and smarter environment for their residents.

A Mission to Reduce Energy Consumption

Bellingham, Wash., is a city with one such mission. The mayor declared 2016 “Energy Year” with a coordinated city-wide effort to “fight against climate change, reduce local energy costs, improve homes, and create a more resilient local energy system.”

One specific goal the city intends to achieve is reducing carbon emissions by reducing energy consumption. Its first target: city streetlights.

In fact, the city’s mission has been nationally recognized. Bellingham is a semi-finalist for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national challenge to towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency.

To create a modern, illuminated, energy-efficient city, Bellingham retrofitted its 3,600 city-owned streetlights and lighting infrastructure with new light emitting diode (LED) lights, integrated with wired (power line) and wireless (radio frequency) controls based on Echelon’s intelligent networking solution. Bellingham anticipates its new lighting system will reduce its energy consumption by 70 percent, or 1.8 million kWh, by the year 2020.

To take on the job of replacing an entire city’s streetlight and infrastructure system, a team of lighting experts was called in. Echelon partnered with McKinstry, a design-build energy services company that led the installation, and Northwest Edison, a commercial and industrial lighting and lighting controls contractor that designs, specifies, and installs new energy-efficient systems for commercial, industrial, private, and government sectors throughout the western U.S.

“The streetlight conversion is projected to reduce approximately 2 million pounds of CO2 output annually,” said Clark Alan Williams, superintendent of Traffic/Communications/Fleet and Facilities. “The city’s goal, based on our Climate Action Plan, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by the year 2020. We are glad to have a truly modern lighting solution that will provide us long term benefits.”

By adopting a strategic and intelligent solution that is robust and provides flexibility, the city will be on track to meet all its functional and sustainability goals. Bellingham installed Echelon’s open standards-based outdoor solution that uses existing light poles, but replaces conventional light sources with LEDs.

The Lumewave PL-RF Gateway by Echelon integrates both wired and wireless lighting networks so that the entire lighting system is controlled through Echelon’s central management system (CMS), which simplifies installation and intelligently manages the operation of entire lighting systems. The city did not have to replace any historical or decorative fixtures, as Echelon’s system connects to any light fixture with quick and easy installation, commissioning, and management.

Initially, the city will see lower energy and lighting costs, but in the long term, the intelligent solution will enable the city to add new applications to improve overall safety, which will help reduce city costs even further. The expected energy, operational, and material savings will pay for the project after 12 years or sooner.

For more information about Lumewave by Echelon products, visit www.echelon.com.


Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »   posted on: 5/31/2016

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