Archive for Friday, August 25, 2017

Editorial: Continue LED light plan

August 25, 2017


The city of Lawrence is right to proceed with new LED lighting despite an American Medical Association recommendation to use lower intensity lights.

Last year, the AMA issued guidelines warning against using high-intensity LED lights for streetlights. The AMA said such lighting emits a large amount of blue light that can create worse nighttime glares, affect sleep patterns and disorient some animal species. The AMA recommends that LED lights be no brighter than 3,000 kelvins.

The city has allocated $4.4 million for new LED lighting in facilities, along some roadways and for some public outdoor spaces. The LED lights are more energy efficient and last longer. Transitioning to LED lights is expected to save the city about $225,000 annually. All the LED lighting the city is installing, including the outdoor lighting, ranges between 3,500 kelvins and 4,500 kelvins.

Adrian L. Melott, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas, urged the city to reconsider its plans. “There are towns in America where they are tearing out the LED lights they put in to put in lower-color temperature ones,” Melott said. “We don’t want to get ourselves into that fix. It’s easier to switch now than to have to tear them out later.”

But there are varying opinions on the AMA recommendation. The lighting industry has vigorously challenged the accuracy of the AMA’s advisory. And the Department of Energy issued a response that said the effects of exposure to blue light at night also apply to light from television, phone and computer screens and depend on the amount of light and duration of exposure.

Lawrence-Douglas County Sustainability Director Eileen Horn said the AMA recommendation wasn’t issued until the city was well into its project. Ultimately, the city followed the recommendation of the Lawrence-based general contractors for the project, 360 Energy Engineers, to continue with its original lighting plans.

Changing course on lighting now would be cost prohibitive.

It’s noteworthy that the AMA advisory is specific to streetlights and does not specify how much exposure to high intensity lighting is harmful. The city owns about 20 percent of the outdoor lighting in Lawrence, with the rest owned and operated by Westar. Including traffic lights, Westar owns 3,500 lights while the city owns about 800 street, pedestrian or parking lot lights. Westar is also converting to LED lights and is using 4,000-kelvin lights.

The purpose of the switch to LED lighting is to achieve efficiency that leads to reduced costs. Switching LED lighting intensity at this point would undercut those efforts. More research on high-intensity lighting is expected, and if that research leads to more specific recommendations from the AMA, the city can take steps to address the lighting issue at that time.


Ken Lassman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Seems to me that this creates an opportunity, one in which the Lighting industry might be willing to put up some research money to help clarify whether the difference in light color (not brightness, as this editorial mistakenly states) between 3000K and 4000K lights is significant, and if so, what those differences would be. Maybe part of the cost of the research would be to pay for the restocking charges for the already purchased 3500-4500K luminaires and replacing them with 3000K luminaires. Maybe Westar would consider installing 3000K luminaires in Lawrence and running a study comparing impacts to residents, wildlife, etc. compared to the towns where they are installing their 4000K lights.

Instead of creating a firestorm of "right" and "wrong," which seems silly to do, why not contribute to science-based understanding of what is actually important? Many other towns could benefit from such a study, and we've set up an ideal real-world experiment if we choose to pursue it.

Lawrence is a leader in many, many ways, but sometimes the short term benefits of some innovation can result in long term drawbacks: we only have to look at our water pipes to see an example of that, no?

Carol Bowen 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Good suggestions, Ken. This lighting has the potential to become the next boondogle. We are a college town. We should be able to think through the options.

Michael Kort 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd like to know what the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or The Federal Highway Administration has to say about this lighting issue as every manufacturer of anything loves their own product but with the recent attempts to dumb down the government the FHWA might not have looked into this issue as they might have done before .

Michael Kort 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Just remember that the lights over the meat counter have added green light phosphor so that the meat will appear red to your eye which is a trick of the eye .

Of course those halogen lights over the jewel cases make those stones to shine and shine but they won't look the same under incandescent or in everyday l

Derek Fehmers 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Blue LED streetlights are ubiquitous, but not the best solution. Ellipz Lighting has been making both Mesopic and Spectral Enhanced LED streetlights for 12 years already -- Red, Green and Cyan optimized for human night-time and indoor vision and NOT mimicking daylight at night. Progressive cities like London, Singapore, Amsterdam, Manilla, major highways throughout Europe, and organizations like Schiphol Airport and JPL-NASA have caught on to our better way to light up public and private spaces. People tend to choose what they know, and what they think are accepted norms. There are better alternatives to blue LED streetlights, using less energy for better, healthier vision.

Bob Smith 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Industry shill alert! Derek is VP of operations for Ellipz Lighting.

David Holroyd 6 months, 2 weeks ago

How about a white light. a yellow light any light in the middle of my block. It was taken down as the power lines were rerouted for removal of the water tanks.

Goes to show the commisssion and City Manager are not on top of anything...nothing.

Toni Wheeler, hows that roof coming along on the Mausoleum...cant' Porter give an update...?

Maybe even the mayor should check.

And since Mr. Markus wants money whereever he can get it...he is passing up a chance to sell the empty crypts that once had bodies in them. The should go fast even with a leaky roof...

What a SHAME that the commission order work started before Memorial Day.. they were to busy fussing over some art on 9th street.

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