Gallery: New York City to Install Super-Efficient LED Streetlamps


Over the past year we’ve been thoroughly impressed with New York’s ever-lengthening list of green credentials. The Big Apple already has a plastic bag tax, an amazing mass transit system, LEED certified skyscrapers, and car free zones, and we’re excited to announce that NYC will soon be installing a new breed of super-efficient LED street lamps. The new units will be tested this coming year in a select area, and if successful, one day all of New York’s 300,000 lights will be replaced with new LED versions.

New York City’s Department of Transportation is working closely with the Office for Visual Interaction to design these new street lamps. Rather than just designing a new bulb to replace the older high-pressure sodium light bulbs, OVI has completely re-envisioned the streetlamps from the ground up. The new LED lamps will use considerably less energy and will reduce the city’s power usage by 25-30 percent if all the streetlamps are switched out. As an added bonus, the lamps are expected to last 50,000-70,000 hours compared to the high-pressure sodium lights that last only 24,000 hours. As a result maintenance and energy costs will be considerably reduced, and the expected ROI on each lamp is 2-3 years.

On top of these great cost savings, the lamps will be more useful because of multiple light lenses within each lamp. Instead of shining directly below the lamp, each lamp will have at least 2 light sources pointed in different directions to illuminate the street, the sidewalk, and perhaps even the curb, a building, or a stairway.

New York’s current street lamps are not just for lighting however – they also serve as fixtures for traffic signals, signs, control boxes and other various city utility necessities. When these old lamps were originally installed, these extra things were never planned into the design and were always a pain to install. The new LED lamps and poles will accommodate all this extra stuff with carefully-considered spaces and connection points.

Only six lights will be tested this coming year, and there is no word yet as to where they will be located – if we find out, we’ll let you know. If all goes well, expect to see the new street lamps installed over time as money and time become available. We applaud NYC for encouraging new and highly energy-efficient designs, and for setting an excellent example for the rest of the world.

+ Office for Visual Interaction

Via Red Green and Blue


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  1. Nikole Rought September 14, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Thanks for taking the time to write down this post. It is been very helpful. It couldn’t have arrive at a much better time for me!

  2. Widget January 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    chrisp68:I don’t think solar energy + batteries will be a good solution. Remember these should not need much maintainance.

  3. tworthy December 30, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Just a note, OVI is the lighting designer on this project, the lead designer (responsible for the shape of the luminaire and the modified pole and base) is Thomas Phifer and Partners ( and the structural engineer is Werner Sobek

    The design stems from a competition held in 2004 and is not intended to replace all the streetlights, but simply to provide a more modern design to be installed in areas that make sense aesthetically.

  4. chrisp68 December 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    They need to go farther… Is there any plan to use solar energy to power the lights? They could charge during the day. Also, could motion detection be incorporated? Most residential streets don’t see any traffic late at night and thus lighting is not needed during these times.

  5. judyannacan December 29, 2008 at 8:22 am

    New York did not pass the plastic bag tax and we recycle a very small percentage of our trash.
    However, we did plant one million trees.

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