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Cost, energy efficient technology gets 'green light.' (Environmental Protection Agency's Green Lights Program)

Cost and energy efficient lighting technologies are solutions that local governments cannot ignore in the face of the need to save energy and to avoid air pollution caused by electric power generator.

With that in mind the U.S. Environmental Protection is promoting the Green Lights Program. The EPA encourages corporations, states, and local governments to join the program and upgrade 90 percent of their space with efficient lighting within five years after signing a non-binding agreement.

Founded in January of 1991, Green Lights has more than 600 participants who are finding significant gains in financial and energy savings by installing more efficient lighting, using the program's technical support and public relations programs.

The new technologies offer new savings, too

Improving lighting technologies cost a significant amount to install, but the energy and dollar savings guarantee a payback of a few years, depending on the type of upgrade and building structure.

New and improved compact fluorescent bulbs can replace regular incandescent bulbs in most fixtures. Although they cost about $15 compared to 75 cents of incandescents, their operating cost for 28 hours a week is 7 cents, compared to 28 cents for incandescent. Compact fluorescent will last up to seven years while incandescent last only up to 250 days if operated for four hours a day. This means that over the lifetime of a compact fluorescent one would spend less than $41 for a compact fluorescent and almost $100 for using several incandescent bulbs in the seven year period.

This is an example of the kinds of savings that are possible with lighting upgrades. Among other energy saving technologies are new super-efficient fluorescent tube system accompanied by electronic ballasts; occupancy sensors that turn lights on and off automatically by sensing sound or movement; and daylight control systems, consisting of sensors that dim lights to compensate for natural light coming through windows.

Green lights claims that city and county governments, even if they already do lighting upgrades and have technical support from local utilities, can greatly benefit from the program because of the vast technical and financial information available, and the advantage of being an energy and environmental leader in the community.

What do cities value in lighting technology?

Public Technology, Incorporated conducted a survey of many of its members, including four local government Green Lights partners, to find out the awareness of and involvement in Green Lights to determine issues and concerns related to their interest in the program.

Finance is the primary concern as many jurisdictions cannot make the commitment to Green Lights in part due to other budget spendings, lack of funds and staff; however, many jurisdictions would like to join Green Lights if the upfront financing issues can be resolved. Another concern is that jurisdictions already doing lighting upgrades on their own are not aware of additional benefits from joining Green Lights.

One of the most useful services available from Green Lights is the Decision Support System (DSS), a software that aids the surveying of lighting systems in facilities, assess upgrade options, select options that maximize energy and pollution abatement while maintaining or improving lighting quality, produce reports suitable for use by facility managers, government financial staff, and government management.

Two-day training workshops offered in different regions of the country are also another service offered to Green Lights participants. DSS and the Lighting Upgrade Manual are distributed in these workshops only. The workshops include introduction and implementation of DSS and discussions of lighting technologies, terminologies, financing options, waste disposal, and lighting maintenance.

The financing directory, utility/financial database and non-utility financing registry in an electronic bulletin board is frequently updated and is the source to find out utility rebates, consultants who audit floor space to calculate the best lighting upgrading possible, other companies and jurisdictions that may be doing similar projects.

Green Lights also has a general information hotline, 202-775-6650, and fax, 202-775-6680.

More issues raised by PTI member jurisdictions are the public relations benefits brought to local governments if they become Green Lights partners. Generally jurisdictions have a very favorable impression of the Green Lights program, particularly as it relates to long term energy and dollar savings, as well as helping solve environmental problems.

Another important new lighting technology that is even more cost efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs is the E-lamp. It should arrive in the market in limited supply in the first quarter of 1993, and is already touted a success among scientists and prospective consumers. The E-lamp uses a high-frequency radio signal, is four times as efficient as a standard 75 watt incandescent light bulb, and is estimated to last at least 20 times as long, translated to 14 years in household use. It is expected to cost $10 to $20 each, but the cost will lower as has happened to other electronic devices.

For your information packet on lighting technology, call PTI's Answer at 202-626-2444 or 1-800-852-4934.

Cris Queiroz is an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Maryland.
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Queiroz, Cris
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Sep 28, 1992
Words:827
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