Wednesday, August 21, 2019        

Town of Smithfield – Understanding Impacts of Lighting

Recognizing that lighting is an important, yet essential part of everyday life, Smithfield is making movements to become more efficient with regards to our local lighting needs across the Town. Making conscious decisions to turn the lights off when not in use, or modify use of lights which are not needed, are great starts. It’s simple, just a conscious decision to be efficient. If you do not need them on, simply turn them off = efficiency.

Lighting affects every aspect of our night life. We use them for security, we use them for guidance and we use them to make unlit areas usable during the night time. Understanding the impacts of our lighting decisions is an important consideration in any development, redevelopment, residential or project that occurs in our community. Our decisions to illuminate our areas during the night can have both positive and negative impacts on our surroundings. Careful consideration needs to be given to not over-light areas with too much light or too bright of a lighting selection. Pointing the glare of the light source directly out to a street, an abutting property or towards freshwater wetlands can almost always be avoided with careful placement and design consideration of the lights being used at their time of placement.

Below are some friendly links to help our Smithfield residents and businesses better understand the impacts their choices may have when they decide to use lights at night time.

International Dark Sky Association

Light Pollution Maps

The Town of Smithfield recognizes the need to use good lighting that is efficient, energy saving and respectful of the natural environment on not just all of our street lights, but also the municipally owned buildings and public facilities. In an effort to improve efficiency and reduce municipal spending, over the next year Smithfield municipal staff will be endeavoring services to both audit all of our lighting fixtures in our municipal buildings, both school and government and is contracting a firm to complete the replacement and upgrade of the existing fixtures to more energy efficient LED units that will reduce both our energy consumption and our lighting costs to the taxpayers.

National Grid has partnered with the Town to offer rebate incentives on the procurement of the replacement fixtures that will nearly pay for the all of materials necessary to complete the job. The Town has hired a contractor that will be replacing many of the lighting units on all of Smithfield’s school buildings, town owned buildings and other town owned public facilities which are illuminated from behind a meter.

Additionally, the Town has partnered with National Grid and a consortium of other Towns looking to competitively procure services to replace all the street lights that light our local roadways for which the Town is currently paying to provide lighting on. This is a unique program that has also received incentive options from National Grid for the material purchase of the lighting units, further helping to reduce the cost of the program.

The Town’s role in the Streetlight Replacement Program will entail the procurement of an operations and maintenance contractor to provide the services to retrofit mostly all the existing streetlight fixtures with LED fixtures and maintain them under the terms of a service contract. This program is expected to be implemented in 2019 and further improve our energy efficiency to reduce electrification costs to the taxpayers. The program will also evaluate the need of all the lights currently in service to determine if they are truly needed or unnecessary. The Town’s staff expects that upwards of 25% of the existing streetlight inventory in place may be eligible for consideration of removal simply because they are redundant, which will further reduce replacement costs and future energy costs; thereby improving efficiency.

During both of these upgrades to the Town’s lighting systems, light pollution, light trespass and glare are all considerations that will be factored. The Town’s staff recognizes that with these changes there may be some unanticipated issues with the lighting changes that people may not be used to and the Town will strive to meet all the lighting demands our residents and businesses expect to be safe and well guided during night time hours.

Other useful links and resources for public education: US Dept of Energy – American Medical AssociationLED Conversion Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria

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