Parking deck before LED lighting was installed - images courtesy WRAL

Parking deck after LED lights were installed
Raleigh looks to LEDs to cut its power bill and provide brighter lighting

In an effort to cut costs and become more environmentally friendly, the city of Raleigh, NC is looking to LED lighting. The city started a pilot LED lighting program last year in a downtown parking deck. As a result, a 40% reduction in power has been recorded as well as substantial increases in light output, according to Progress Energy.

WRAL, the first HDTV station in the U.S., reports that Raleigh now wants to expand from simply providing LED lighting on a single floor of a parking deck to lighting the entire city with LEDs. The program will eventually expand to use LEDs for street lights, architectural/accent lighting and pedestrian walkways.

LEDs will be provided by Cree, Inc., an RTP-based lighting company. Cree specializes in LED lighting/backlighting used in digital camera flashes, automotive dashboards, traffic signals, street lamps and various other applications.

The upfront costs for providing LED lighting throughout the entire city will be markedly higher than traditional lighting. However, Mayor Charles Meeker notes that the costs could be quickly recovered due to the power savings afforded by LED technology. Meeker says that Raleigh could save roughly $80,000 USD a year in utility bills just by switching its parking decks from traditional lighting to LED lighting. Meeker also believes that significant reductions can be made in the $4 million USD that the city spends to power street lights each year.

"We are thinking by our role of testing these products, implementing those products and then publicizing the successful tests, we can help not just our community, but communities throughout the country to a better job with energy conservation," said Meeker.

"The use of LED lighting will assist in addressing our nation's energy challenges and helping Raleigh and other cities develop energy-efficient infrastructure in the future," said Greg Merritt, a spokesman for Cree.

LEDs are quickly finding a home in a number of varying arenas. Companies like Asus, Fujitsu and Sony have introduced notebooks which use LED backlighting for brighter, sharper screens and reduced power draw. Also, car manufacturers like Toyota and Volkswagen are using LEDs for headlights in their high-end automobiles.

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