WEB EXCLUSIVE: Welland shows great LEaDership in new initiatives

May 18, 2009
In Canada, the City of Welland has passed resolutions to require developers to install LED fixtures for new streetlighting installations, and is looking at the replacement of existing fixtures with LEDs.
Being involved with the LED City initiative in Toronto, it is very rewarding to work with other program partner cities, especially when they are so close to home. Welland, located in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada, became an LED City in September 2008, and is leading the way in new initiatives. Mayor Damian Goulbourne proclaimed “LED Day” to recognize the city’s new status (see LED Day in Ontario as Welland joins LED City program (Sept 08)).

Last fall, the City of Welland and Welland Hydro were recognized with the 2007 Sustainable Urban Transportation Award from the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) for their “LED Streetlight Conversion Program: Lighting the Way Forward To a Green Community” and David Ferguson, Manager, Traffic & Parking Operations, made a presentation to the municipalities in attendance to further explain how they developed the program. The presence of LED street lighting was also evident at TAC in the exhibit area with Canadian company LED Roadway Lighting from Nova Scotia, which is making inroads into roadway lighting.

In moving forward from the City’s initial LED outdoor project on Fitch Street in August 2007 (see article), the City has completed another installation in the downtown core adjacent to City Hall. The East Main, King and Cross Streets project consists of 49 post top luminaires from King Luminaire of Burlington, ON, with the light engine being designed by CRS Electronics, also located in Welland.

Staff from the City of Welland incorporated two separate fixtures into the downtown project. A total of 22 units utilized 90 watts and 27 units utilized 70 watts. This has generated an energy savings between 10 and 30 percent from the initial 100 watt high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures. In addition, is the estimated maintenance savings for these fixtures over a 20 year period is in excess of $40,000.

The public response from previous projects was very well positive, says Ferguson, and in excess of 70% support was received from the public. The City of Welland has made great strides and commitment to improve and revitalize the downtown core, says Greg D’Amico, Chair of the Downtown Welland BIA, adding “we are proud to assist the City in becoming leaders in energy consumption.”

In 2008, the Downtown BIA installed LED tree lights on all the new trees within the newly revitalized core and will continue to install the lights in the remaining phases. Not only has the municipality and BIA recognized the benefits of LED technology, but also several businesses are now exploring the use of LED lighting in their stores. Karie Constantino of Palazzo Salon & Spa states that the potential electrical savings from LED lighting can reduce the business’ expenses by 30%.

Council mandates LEDs

Further to these two initial awareness projects, the following recommendations (subsequently approved) were made in a February 2009 Traffic & Parking Division Report from the General Committee, Engineering, Public Works and Transportation Services’ to City Council.

“The Council of the City of Welland…

  • approves the changes to the Engineering Standards to require LED streetlighting installations
  • approves the streetlighting maintenance standard outlined in this report
  • directs staff to begin reviewing costs associated with replacing the existing streetlights with LED streetlights over a 3 to 5 year period and report back to Council with recommendations.”

Two other significant outcomes from the report were:

  • Engineering Standards: The current Engineering standards identify the use of High Pressure Sodium (HPS) streetlights for regular, decorative streetlighting and pathway installations. As a result, staff is unable to require developers to utilize LED technology. These changes will provide staff with ensuring that developers are required to utilize LED technology within the City of Welland. It should be noted, that the Terrasan Project, 1 Albert Street, has proactively identified the City's direction and prepared their outdoor lighting plan utilizing all LED products. Staff is not aware of any other private development of this type taking this direction in Canada or North America, and could be the first installation of this type.
  • Streetlight Conversion Program: Through the success of the current LED streetlighting program and the benefits that have been identified, staff is prepared to recommend the conversion of the existing HPS streetlights to LED. Staff will report to a future City Council meeting recommending and outlining a Phased Plan to convert the existing program outlining costs, products and benefits.”

This plan is consistent with the City of Welland Strategic Plan 2007-2012, as passed by Council on June 19, 2007, focusing on Asset Management and Financial Sustainability, the Environment and Healthy Communities.

As stated by Kevin Dowling of Philips Color Kinetics in his presentation at LEDs 2008 last fall in San Diego, “Luminaire Design is Affecting Standards, and Standards are Affecting Luminaire Design” meaning that standards beneficially drive luminaire design and accelerate adoption, use and market growth. To take this further, changes in legislation and engineering standards, such as that being adopted by the City of Welland, will most certainly also accelerate adoption, use and market growth.

Albert Street development

As mentioned, the developer Terrasan Corporation is currently completing plans for the Albert Street Development, a mixed commercial and residential neighbourhood development project that includes LED streetlighting. “Developer response has been very positive and supportive and without question.” said Welland’s David Ferguson, adding that ‘there was a definite understanding of the need to reduce energy consumption.”

The current lighting plan for the new Albert Street Development calls for 33 LED fixtures in IES Types II, III and V distribution, with betaLED/Ruud being the specified approved manufacturer. Significant energy and financial savings will be realized in this decision to install LED over incumbent technologies.

Tom Tisdale, Project Manager from Stantec, the engineering firm contracted for the development, offered the following comments; “The development consists of both a proposed residential section and a proposed commercial section. The residential section comprised town home style units and an apartment block. The lighting design was completed and issued for approval to the City of Welland based on a total of 13 pole-mounted LED luminaries for the residential section.

“The initial design and photometric calculations were based on utilizing the Rudd Lighting Edge series LED fixture mounted on a direct arm bracket to a 9 meter decorative octagonal concrete pole. Four different models of fixtures were chosen for the design model, ranging from 79 watt to 128 watt LED systems with a Type II or Type III distribution depending on the illumination requirements for the roadway and residential parking areas. The commercial area parking lot was designed using the same Edge series fixture but using 128 watt and 153 watt LED fixtures due to the larger area.

“Lighting design criteria for the residential area was designed to the City of Welland standards of an average illumination of 6 lux with an average-to -minimum uniformity of 6:1 (for local residential roads). Lighting design for the commercial parking area was completed to the IESNA parking lot enhanced-security illumination levels. If the City of Welland standards were not required for this project, the design most likely would have been completed using 100 watt or 150 watt HPS style fixtures. This estimation of wattage is only a general assumption since specific fixtures were not selected, the quantity was not determined and the lighting model was not calculated using any other lighting type, other than LED.

It is difficult to say exactly what style of fixture would have been used if the City of Welland standards were not considered. Typically, many other factors such as the developer's preference, the site planner requirements, the landscape architect requirements and the overall ambiance of the site would be considered to select a light fixture style that matched with the site characteristics.”

Completion of the project is dependent upon current market conditions.

When asked as to his thoughts as to the direction of the City of Welland, Tisdale commented, “Personally I think that the City of Welland is being very innovative and "Green" in their policy of LED lighting source for new development site lighting. They are the only municipality that our office has encountered that has mandated the LED requirement (for new development site lighting).”

High upfront costs

I also asked Tisdale about higher first costs for LED and accounting for it in the payback equation and whether Stantec has worked with LED on other projects elsewhere to date. Tisdale said, “In this specific project the developer understands that it will be the ongoing cost savings that will provide the long term benefit. While I cannot speak for Stantec as a whole, our office has worked on several LED lighting projects and has had considerable interest from some clients in LED lighting systems for both exterior and interior applications.

“However, the higher initial capital cost has been a detriment in them selecting an LED lighting system. This is difficult to market to some clients, especially when the capital and operating costs are paid from two distinct operating units within a corporation. With the current economic conditions, the higher initial costs make it an even more challenging approval.

“We have seen great improvement in the LED products in just the past few years with more and more lighting manufacturers starting to produce LED lighting fixtures. We can only hope that this trend continues and will help to lower the overall cost of the LED products, leading to an even greater acceptance.”

Welland approves

David Ferguson added, “There was a meeting held and the developer was informed of the direction the City was going with lighting. As outlined in my report to Council, the developer deserves the credit for implementing the LED lighting, as it is one of the only developments I'm aware of to follow this route and as I said, the standards were not yet approved, so they did not have to go that direction if they did not wish to. “The City of Welland is very pleased that this developer chose to go this route and assisting in making our municipality one of the greenest municipalities in Canada and follows the Strategic Priorities set by City Council. “It is unfortunate the recession has occurred, as we are looking forward to the development of this site as the City of Welland continues to grow and develop. The City landscape looks positive for the future as a result of various developments and changes that are occurring within the City. “With the exception of the tough times that the municipality and region are facing, it is an exciting time to be working in Welland and as you can see in the near future, Welland will become a municipality of choice for people to live and work in a beautiful community.”

Welland is also currently developing a new Request for Proposal (RFP) process for the LED Streetlight Replacement Program, said Ferguson, which is planned to be released this June. Ferguson is employing some of the new resources and tools being developed by Toronto’s greenTbiz and LED City initiative with the input and participation of lighting designers, specifiers, utilities and manufacturers to ‘vet’ manufacturers and product.

Those responding to the process should consider preparation of their documents and submission, as the issue of ‘how to buy’ solid-state lighting is getting considerable attention both in Canada and in the United States through the efforts of the US Department of Energy and energy efficiency programs like greenTbiz. More are now seeing the ‘light’ in many ways when it comes to LED, especially in outdoor lighting applications.