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LED the way

Source: Public Sector Executive Jan/Feb 2013

Jim Blaik, highway operations manager at Doncaster Council, spoke to PSE about the largest multi-manufacturer LED trial in the country.

Doncaster Council has identified and implemented the best LED lighting on the market, through a trial which tested products from several different manufacturers.

PSE spoke to Jim Blaik, highway operations manager at Doncaster Council, about the innovative scheme and how it would impact on savings and quality of the service.

Informing buying decisions

Seven manufacturers were invited to test their LED street lighting on a different street in the Carcroft and Swallow area, with the results then reviewed by the council over the last 18 months.

Blaik told PSE: “The LED trial is the largest multi-manufacturer trial in Great Britain; it has been a shop window for the different manufacturers and we’ve actually identified what we think is probably the best LED lighting on the market currently.”

He has to keep the name of the manufacturer under wraps for now due to “commercial reasons” – Doncaster is planning to build a specifi cation that will go out to tender with this company.

“Fundamentally the trial is informing our buying decision for the future,” he said.

The lights were judged on criteria including glare from the lights, the public’s feelings of wellbeing, as well as technical questions to experts from the lighting industry. Manufacturers, council staff, residents and other interested local authorities took part in the review, through a series of walk-rounds at night.

It was the first time Doncaster has been involved in LED street lighting, although some LED lights have been in use on signs for the last few years.

All-singing, all-dancing

Explaining why the council invited so many manufacturers, Blaik said: “A rep can come into the offi ce and they can bring a light fi tting with them all the technical specs but until you actually see a street lit with the LED lights then it doesn’t tell you anything.

“In the full trial there were a total of 60 new street lighting columns: just over 10 LEDs per company.

“I take a slightly cynical view when people come in and say ‘this light fitting will be all-singing, all-dancing’.

“I think the idea of trialling stuff is important. The reason being when you fi t a light fi tting, it might be up on a street for 20, 30 or 40 years: it’s quite a long-term investment. Energy costs are going up for everyone all the time, so it’s important we look at that.”

Making light work of maintenance

The trial LEDs were introduced where an old lighting scheme’s columns had passed their life expectancy and needed replacing. “Also a lot of the roads on that scheme are very similar so it’s almost a like-for-like comparison for manufacturers,” he said.

Blaik highlighted the savings to be found from installing LEDs, through reductions on energy bills, which can deliver approximately 45% savings compared to standard lighting.

LEDs also need less maintenance, meaning councils can reduce the frequency with which staff will have to work on repairs. He said that fi tting lighting on main roads was a big concern for traffic management, and reducing the amount of time signs and cones have to be put out could reduce this cost “quite considerably”.

The future is bright

Doncaster is to roll out the LED technology across the whole town as new capital schemes are introduced and old street lighting requires replacement.

“It’s a very difficult time for local government and we’re looking at ways of reducing energy consumption. In the future we believe all street lighting will be LEDs.”

The amount of lighting to be covered is huge – Doncaster has around 48,000 street lighting columns, of which around 8,000 are replaced each year. It is “quite a substantial investment”, Blaik added. “If we had sufficient funds to replace all the street lighting columns, we’d have to balance that against the cost of doing that and the energy savings.”

The council presented a paper at the Institute of Lighting Professionals Summit in Brighton in October 2012 explaining more about the trial and its success.

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