Monday, September 3, 2007

Lunar Resonant Streetlighting

Metropolis Magainze just awarded Civil Twilight Design Collective top prize in the 2007 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition for the Lunar-Resonant Streetlight. This design "...retrofit[s] existing streetlights with dimmable LED bulbs and a highly sensitive photo-sensor cell that could detect and respond to moonlight."

The Collective's reserach indicates:
  • streetlights account for 38 percent of the electricity used for lighting in the United States—that’s close to 300 million tons of carbon emissions a year.
  • They’re also the top source of light pollution, preventing two-thirds of Americans from seeing stars at night.
  • in the 1930s, with the spread of electrification and the consolidation of utilities, streetlights became a convenient way to off-load excess energy from the grid at night, when power demands dropped significantly. This intentionally inefficient system determined the norm for nighttime outdoor lighting levels, a standard that has not been revised since, even though the need for off-loading ended in the 1970s. What we now assume is a safety measure is in fact the forgotten remnant of an obsolete energy practice.