Of the UK’s seven million lighting columns, around one-quarter are currently being upgraded by local authorities to energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diodes) units. This lighting revolution has a vital role to play in helping urban environments to become more sustainable – socially, environmentally and economically.
These replacement programmes will help drive significant cost and energy savings for local authorities, but they also provide an important opportunity to make lighting an integrated part of asset management plans too.
Ahead of any LED replacement scheme, lighting contractors need to: carry out visual inspections of all lighting columns and lanterns to map the asset; undertake electrical tests; understand specific wattages and lighting sources; as well as plotting how many hours each lantern is turned on for each year.
Delivered correctly and this process should allow lighting teams to capture a rich dataset.
This data is vital for asset management and when analysed correctly it can help councils vary lighting output, forecast replacement schedules and manage lifecycle costs.
A detailed understanding of lighting assets can also help pave the way for the transition to smart cities. Many UK cities, such as Bristol, are now starting to explore new smart cities concepts to create a more interconnected and easier to manage built environment.
These programmes will require the installation of new devices and technologies, often on existing street furniture such as lighting columns. Having information about our street lighting logged as part of a central asset management database will help us to smooth the transition to a smarter public realm.
Local authorities will need to work with designers, engineers and contractors to understand the implications of removing or amalgamating street furniture in this way. This is something we are already working on with our local authority partners in London to help them find solutions that fit the needs of each project and place.
LED replacement programmes are driving energy efficiency and helping councils to reduce pressures on the public purse. They also provide an excellent opportunity to capture a rich dataset which can inform asset management and the smart cities of tomorrow.
Graham Cartledge is lighting director at FM Conway.