Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Ursula Bach

Copenhagen installing 20,000 Street Lamps to protect Cyclists and reduce Carbon Emissions

Copenhagen, European Green Capital 2014, is taking another step towards becoming the world’s first carbon neutral capital city by 2025 by installing 20,000 ‘smart’ lamps around the city. Half of all the existing streetlamps are to be replaced with LED bulbs in a move to reduce carbon emissions further and to keep cyclists safer in the dark.

View of existing streetlights in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of architectureframed.blogspot.com

View of existing streetlights in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of architectureframed.blogspot.com

This project is expected to decrease carbon emissions by 57%, beginning in 2016 in comparison with 2010 levels – the equivalent of the annual consumption of 4,500 Copenhagen households. In addition, in order to save on waste impact and costs, the local government is auctioning off the existing traditional lamps – Copenhagen Lamps, or Københavnerlamper – that have been in place since the 1970s. Their worn and simple appearance fits in with the Danish and general Scandinavian interior style, which favours the minimalist and industrial look. According to Lauritz, the auction house in charge of selling off the old lamps, demand has been very high. Around 3,000 have been sold over the last few months and they are expected to be sold out by March 2016, at an average cost of €92 each. Bids are also open to Sweden and Germany.

Due to citizens’ fondness for the original lamps, the new models will remain similar in appearance. The bulbs will not only be changed to LEDs, which are more energy efficient, but are also considered to be smart technology due to a ‘communications module’ which will be fitted inside each lamp. By doing so, a control centre will use these modules to power the entire new lighting system. This will ensure that lights can dim according to a schedule, as well as being able to brighten when cyclists approach road junctions. The latter is important as half of commuter trips are taken by bicycle in Denmark’s capital.

Cyclists stop at a road junction in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of www.visitcopenhagen.com

Cyclists stop at a road junction in Copenhagen. Image courtesy of www.visitcopenhagen.com

The company manufacturing the new lamps for Copenhagen is Silver Spring Networks. It specialises in smart technology applications that are tailored for a range of utilities including advanced water metering, automatic electricity distribution, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and demand response. ‘Smart cities’ use such cutting edge communications technology to become greener, save on utility costs and make life more comfortable for inhabitants and visitors. This technology also helps municipalities to gather useful data that will help them to cater for the needs of their citizens.

Other cities that have chosen to install smart lighting are Paris, Glasgow and Miami. A similar project has also been undertaken in Bristol, European Green Capital 2015, where ordinary streetlights have been switched to Streetwise™ versions. These give out more natural light and can be dimmed where necessary during the night to save energy.

Europe and indeed the rest of the world are rapidly becoming more urbanised, so smart solutions like the new lighting system in Copenhagen are a vital piece of the jigsaw for tackling rising carbon emissions and making citizens feel more secure in their daily lives. As the European Green Capital Award slogan says: Green Cities, Fit for Life.