LP Solution: LIGHT-EFFICIENT COMMUNITIES
Posted 04 January 2014 - 11:36 PM
My name is Rod Mc Connell and I have just joined Cloudy Nights. I have a nature preserve 150 km NE of Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Canada which, over the years, has steadily received light pollution from Edmonton and more recently from local communities. Five years ago I determined to fight the increasing light pollution and formed the Alberta Dark Sky Association with the goal to clean up light waste within Alberta. I recruited other interested parties from other organizations and we eventually created a Consortium which included the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. Our first goal was to clean up Edmonton which is the worst polluter in the province. This is a city that has a light-print of approximately 125,000 square kilometers! (See light-waste maps and photos on the web site.)
To our group I advocated that we take a more positive approach in dealing with waste light and minimize the use of “light pollution” as it is not a commonly understood term and almost instantly creates a negative reaction in people who believe our intent is to turn off all the lights just so we can use our telescopes. I proposed the term “Light-Efficient Communities” (LEC’s), an easily-understood and accepted term consistent with environmental approaches and policies adopted by most communities.
Over the past 4 years we received generous, enthusiastic support from our city council and citizens as we have stressed reduced waste of electricity, light and money while positively improving the health, safety, security and night environment of our community. We now have an Interim and Phase 1 LEC Policy in place with Phase 2 to begin this year. We have already replaced 16,000 of 100,000 streetlights with highly efficient, money-saving, IDA-approved, lower color temperature, full cut-off LED’s. A coming five year plan will see replacement of the rest with computer and sensor controls to increase savings. Over the next decade or so we shall save millions of dollars in reduced power use and maintenance fees. I am now working with many other communities in Canada, the U.S. and various spots around the world. My dark site is also gaining protection as the county has adopted a LEC Phase 1 Policy with the Phase 2 Policy to possibly come later this year. The closest large town is now one of my clients.
The next ten years should see a dramatic change in light, electricity and money waste in our communities and, as a side-effect, much darker skies throughout the province. As a taxpayer, I am much happier. As an amateur astronomer, I am ecstatic! Our approach addresses so many problems related to light waste and the adoption of LEC policies will ensure that our skies are darker as well.
I invite you to visit my web site at www.albertadarksky.ca to gain a deeper understanding of our accepted and very effective approach. As well I invite you to download and make use of the many free materials I have developed for advocates, the public, city councilors and administration. Education and approach is the key to acceptance and effective action.
Best wishes and clear, dark skies!
Rod E. Mc Connell
President, Alberta Dark Sky Association
Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:26 AM
Posted 05 January 2014 - 11:34 AM
I believe it is all in the approach and the words that you use. Councils think money and when you show them how they can save money, energy, etc., they can accept what you are trying to accomplish much more readily and have the grounds to then support your efforts. As in our case, it can save them millions of dollars of taxpayers' money while still providing light when needed.
All the best and please feel free to download, use the materials and pass them on. All ADSA materials may be downloaded from the ALL DOCUMENTS download then unZIPed. I would be most interested in how you are doing. Please keep in contact. Best Wishes! Rod
Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:50 PM
Looking forward to getting to know you better!
Posted 09 January 2014 - 04:11 PM
Posted 14 January 2014 - 07:57 PM
Please excuse my delay in responding and thank you for your comments. Things have been unbelievably hectic. I have 26 communities on my list now with whom I am corresponding and talking. All appear to be enthusiastic about the program and have promised to take a close look at it. These are all the major cities and large towns in Alberta. Working directly with the Chief Admin. Officer's office helps. The web site provides the backup information they need to get things going. Things are starting to move and I hope that we can clean up our mess (see light waste map on the web site) in the next five to ten years or at least make a great start on it. One has to remember that one person, only one person, can make a great change in society.
Best wishes - Rod
Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:06 PM
With our program it is not so much a case of requiring money. The idea is to first educate, then develop the policies. Finally, one can change the lighting in a community by simply doing replacements of malfunctioning lights with LED's. This cuts the cost of replacement (it has to be done anyway)and the cost is approximately the same as that of replacing the old luminaire. The whole community does not have to be done at once. New communities are then required to install LED's right at the beginning. Life expectancy of LED's is now approximately 20 years. This means you are saving the costs by not replacing the sodium bulbs every five years or so. Replacement costs are phenomenal - about the cost of one luminaire! Cities will be saving money by lower power costs as their consumption will fall dramatically. We have seen this happen here. As the old saying goes - there is more than one way to skin a cat (I AM a cat lover, by the way) and that is the approach we use here to get things moving. All the best! Rod
Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:42 PM
Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:01 PM
Thanks for the comments. I told my group several years ago that we are never going to win the fight using 'light pollution" and so recommended "Light-Efficient Communities." That was the turning point in our efforts as it is a term people can identify with and work towards. This is a case of asking 'Why we are still wasting money on obsolete technologies that cause innumerable problems when we could be spending that money on better lighting and improving our communities, their health and environment."
No council can logically defend a position that maintains the status quo when the information is there to disprove their stance. Education is vitally important and that is why I have spent the last few years developing the kit you can download from www.albertadarksky.ca Get to know your councilor and educate him/her with the free materials from the web site. The same thing applies to your city manager or CAO. It takes a few hours to go through the materials but the power that it gives the user is phenomenal. There is nothing like knowledge to give you power. That is what won the day for us even though the so-called experts were trying to negate what we were saying. Most councils are very concerned about saving money and being fiscally responsible. This approach gives them that. How can they argue that case and why should they? And, as a side benefit, we also improve the community lighting, reduce glare and trespass while improving health and the local and surrounding environment. With these well chosen arguments we got council's attention and approval. It is very difficult to argue against something that is going to improve your community. As a side benefit, our skies get darker. Indeed, we hardly mention observing as a reason for making these policy changes but we are happy to see our situation improving in that respect. As one person who had been in one of the refurbished districts exclaimed to me - "Now we can even see the stars!" That was a great compliment as far as I was concerned.
Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:05 PM
As of today, I have contacted 26 major towns and cities throughout Alberta and they have received the introductory letter and materials. The response has been most positive and they are interested in seeing the materials and learning about LEC's. This is the first step and education is the next, followed by action.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 08:16 AM
Posted 16 January 2014 - 03:45 PM
I totally agree with you and the idea is to talk money and waste of money to councils. New LED streetlighting can save a lot of money, depending on how many lights you have in your community. In Edmonton we have approximately 100,000 streetlights. Our new program now has 16,000 installed as of this last fall and we are creating a 5-Year plan to finance and do the remaining 85,000. Saving money is THE major point in selling the Light-Efficient Community program. Along with that comes savings in energy, resources, environment, health, etc.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 03:50 PM
Posted 16 January 2014 - 05:43 PM
You mentioned a nature preserve. Care to mention which one?
Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:04 PM
Cost savings accrue at least two ways when implementing LED lighting: 1. less electricity is used 2. less maintenance costs (LED's should last about 4 times as long as regular LPS bulbs. In the second case this means only 1 maintenance job (with costs) in about 20 years vs. a maintenance job every 5 years. Your power company can tell you what it costs to replace a burned out bulb. Here it runs about $400 - $500 each! That is the cost of a new LED luminaire.
We are also piloting computer and sensor control of the LED's. This means that the community in which the pilot is located will only have lights in those areas requiring them. The rest remain off or in dim until required. This further reduces consumption and costs. Our Transportation department is committed to wringing every lumen out of the power we are consuming and cutting consumption and costs to the minimum. Results will vary from municipality to municipality depending on the number of streetlights you have and the contracts the municipality has with the power provider. Edmonton, so I am told, will have savings in the millions of dollars over the next decade or so. That is significant for a population just under a million. That is why our council wants the rest of the lights replaced as quickly as possible. LED company representatives can provide the municipality with estimates.
Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:08 PM
The whole concept is important enough that I have about 26 municipalities interested and have not been turned down yet by any I have approached. The nature preserve is a private reserve - no name. This is located 2 miles South of the hamlet of Ashmont, Alberta. We have a large wooded section of the quarter and harbour everything from bears, deer and moose down to rabbits and squirrels.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 03:22 AM
The best light is soft illumination over a large area.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:42 AM
1. Avoid images of text (e.g. http://www.albertada....ca/img113.gif) because this won't be indexed by search engines, looks blocky, and can't be re-sized by readers with vision problems. You can have text flow around images, etc, with HTML.
2. At the bottom of the pages you have links. To get to the link one must click on a blue square, not the text with the link name. If you remove the square and move the link to the text itself, it will become easier to navigate the site as this is the paradigm people expect.
3. Add a title to your site where you currently have "blank." Google uses those titles to index sites and they also appear on the browser tabs, etc.
Hope that's useful. PM me if you want more suggestions, etc.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:50 AM
Posted 17 January 2014 - 10:54 AM
Posted 17 January 2014 - 11:03 AM
Posted 17 January 2014 - 12:39 PM
Many thanks for the advice and the offer. Right now I do not have the time either to really get involved in this but I will add it to my "to do" list. I am supposed to be retired but doing the LEC work is a full time job then some. At least every once in awhile I get outside to do a little observing..lol. Jupiter is beautiful this time of year!
Posted 17 January 2014 - 01:07 PM
Posted 17 January 2014 - 03:28 PM
Town and city councilors are supposed to be receptive to their constituents. Usually, you can make an appointment to see them. I started with the councilor for our area, set up an appointment and showed her the materials I had developed from the research available. She also recommended another councilor, who is now our mayor, fortunately. He became a great supporter as well. Other councilors were very supportive too. The key is to talk about cutting energy and light waste and saving money. New LED streetlights can do that. Also the lighting is better than that from the old cobra head luminaires. Then, there is the problems related to health, safety, security, flora, fauna and the environment. LED's are the beginning and while you are at it, you may as well bring in community-source waste light and complete the picture. Municipalities show that they are serious about their waste cutting program by converting the streetlights and the lighting for their assets. They can then expect citizens and business to do the same. Once the policy is in place, the rest follows. We received NO BACKLASH from our population as we were educating them through the media, etc. about the advantages of the new lighting policies, even though one paper referred to us as "Angels of Darkness"..lol. Educating your councilors is absolutely basic. Providing them with educational materials (all on my web site) will do that. Talking fiscal responsibility and waste minimization is a language they understand. I also use telephone and e-mail to introduce other communities in Alberta to the concept and add them to my mailing list for LEC-type information. I hope this helps. Just remember, it only takes ONE PERSON to change the world. The trick is taking the right approach.
Posted 17 January 2014 - 06:23 PM