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Business

Southern lights: Austin gets added to my green-tech city check list

The lovely city of Austin, Texas (at least I hear it's lovely) has joined the LED City program touted by Cree, a maker of solid-state lighting technology components.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The lovely city of Austin, Texas (at least I hear it's lovely) has joined the LED City program touted by Cree, a maker of solid-state lighting technology components.

The installations included the retrofit of a major parking garage, the installation of hallway lights at the headquarters of Austin Energy (which is participating in the rollout and has a local rebate program of $17 million per year to encourage energy efficiency), new streetlights in the Barton Springs section, and fixtures in the marquee sign and a fountain in the Palmer Events Center. According to Cree, the city also plans to install LED lights along some local park hiking trails. The fixtures being used are 47-watt products from Beta LED.

Actually, Austin has been playing with LED lighting since as early as 2003, when it swapped out 5,200 traffic signals and 3,700 pedestrian signals. Sorry to overlook that before. That retrofit reduced the wattage to about 15 watts, compared with the previous 135 watts. Cree reports that the retrofit has saved Austin 7.25 million kilowatt-hours per year AND estimates taxpayer savings of about $1.4 million. (Very, very important number to know when you're talking municipal projects.)

The latest Cree press release quotes Austin Mayor Will Wynn estimates that the new streetlight retrofit could save up to $500,000 per year in energy costs, which doesn't account for maintenance.

Incidentally, Cree also cites a statistic from the U.S. Department of Energy estimating that about 22 percent of all electricity in U.S. homes goes to lighting. I can't find that stat, but here are some worthwhile tips.

Other decent-sized U.S. cities that have jumped on the LED bandwagon include Raleigh, N.C., and Ann Arbor, Mich. Canada's Toronto has also committed to retrofits.

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