AMA: Proper LED steet light technology leads to environmental benefits

A LED street light in Tuscon, Arizona. (Bill Morrow/Flickr)
An LED street light in Tuscon, Arizona. (Bill Morrow/Flickr)
Nick Fetty | June 28, 2016

Proper LED – or light emitting diode – technology for street lights could benefit both human health and the environment, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).

During its annual meeting earlier this month, the AMA “adopted guidance for communities on selecting among LED lighting options to minimize potential harmful human and environmental effects.” About 10 percent of existing U.S. street lighting has been converted to LED which often have economic and environmental benefits compared to conventional lighting. However, despite these benefits, officials with the AMA feel that certain forms of LED technology in street lighting may actually cause more harm than good.

“Despite the energy efficiency benefits, some LED lights are harmful when used as street lighting,” said AMA Board Member Maya A. Babu. “The new AMA guidance encourages proper attention to optimal design and engineering features when converting to LED lighting that minimize detrimental health and environmental effects.”

The lighting from high-intensity LED designs can harm some bird, insect, turtle, and fish species that are naturally accustomed to a darker environment. To avoid these potential ecological threats, national parks in the U.S. have utilized optimal lighting designs in an effort to minimize the effects of light pollution on the environment. In addition to harming the environment, high-intensity LED lighting can cause distractions for drivers and also disrupt circadian sleep rhythms in humans.

Specifically, the AMA recommends that communities use LED technology with the lowest emission of blue light possible. AMA also recommends that LED lighting be properly shielded to reduce glare and that LED lighting be dimmed during non-peak time periods

In 2015, MidAmerican Energy announced plans to convert more than 100,000 Iowa streetlights to LED over a 10-year period.

MidAmerican Energy to convert +100,000 Iowa streetlights to LED

(MidAmerican Energy)


Nick Fetty | August 20, 2015

MidAmerican Energy recently announced plans to convert more than 100,000 Iowa streetlights to Light Emitting Diode (LED) units over the next 10 years.

The project will  encompass all Iowa cities within MidAmerican’s service territory. Major cities within this territory include: Des Moines, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Council Bluffs, Waterloo, Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Smaller communities also expected to participate in the project include Carroll and Storm Lake, among others.

“This is a true partnership between MidAmerican Energy and our communities as we work together to show our commitment to energy efficiency and cost savings as well as contribute to a greener environment,” said Kathryn Kunert, vice president, business and community development for MidAmerican Energy.

As existing high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs burn out they will be replaced by LED fixtures and bulbs. LEDs have several advantages over HPSs including: lower energy consumption, less frequent maintenance, longer life span, instant-on performance, improved night visibility due to improved color index, reduced spill light, and no mercury, lead or other known disposable hazards. LED units, however, have an initial cost that is about four times that of their HPS counterparts.

Cities and other municipalities eligible for this project must complete MidAmerican Energy’s LED streetlighting agreement. Streetlights owned by municipalities and other utility companies will not be part of the project. The conversion will come at no cost unless municipalities opt for an accelerated installation plan.


Iowa town replaces street lamps with LEDs

An LED streetlight. Photo by meltedplastic, Flickr.

The small town of Pocahontas, Iowa has replaced all 280 of its street lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting.

The new streetlights shine a bright white, and consume roughly half the electricity of their yellow predecessors. Pocahontas City Administrator Robert Donahoo said that the $190,000 investment will pay for itself within four years.

“The citizens love them,” he said.

For more information on the future of LED lighting, read the full article at Bloomberg.