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Outdoor Lights that Talk to One Another?

Outdoor Lighting technologies are always getting better, more energy efficient and more adaptive. And now, one university system in California has its lights communicating with one another to help save the school big bucks.

The University of California, Davis established its Smart Lighting Initiative in 2010 to reduce the campuses electrical use by 30 million kilowatt hours over 5 years. Over the past few years, the school has invested nearly 1 million dollars into the advanced lighting system that is set to save the school $100,000 every year on electricity without compromising the safety and security of its students, faculty and staff.

So what makes this system so good? Instead of being set to times when it is on and times when it’s off, it’s adaptive to the circumstances of time of day and amount of traffic in certain areas using motion sensors and multilevel lighting. The system “wirelessly connects more than 1,400 energy efficient lights along pathways and roadways to a main control area, so that lights that once operated in solitude are now ‘talking’ to each other as part of a seamless web.” Source.

“Adaptive lighting means having the right levels when you need them," says Keith Graeber, director of engineering at the UC Davis Lighting Technology Center. “It’s safe, secure and efficient. It’s better lighting.”

The UC Davis lighting system can be set to turn on when the campus knows there will be increased traffic, for example during sporting events or other campus activities. But the system also can run on its own using sensors. When the lights don’t sense motion, they will dim to save energy and reduce light pollution and will become brighter when activity is sensed again. Once sensed, the system “predicts [the persons’] direction of travel, and lights the path ahead.” Talk about smart lights!

The Smart Lighting Initiative is 80% complete, and despite the campus’ growth, the energy used to light the outdoor spaces is 58% less than it was in 2007.

According to My LED Lights, half of our carbon footprint is due to electricity and 17% due to lighting alone. So by drastically reducing the amount of energy used to run its outdoor lighting system, UC Davis has drastically reduced its carbon footprint as it will omit far less carbon dioxide than before.

If you are interested in learning about energy-efficient outdoor lighting in your area, contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives location.