Open Space Lighting: Low-Hanging Fruit for Reducing Council Emissions

Paul Brown and Alison Brown

Lighting in open spaces such as parks, sports facilities and car parks contribute around 10-15% of a council's emissions and costs associated with outdoor lighting. However, due to the fact that councils have direct control over these spaces, open space lighting is one of the easiest ways for councils to decrease costs and improve emissions profiles

While the process for improving open space lighting assets can be daunting and confusing, Ironbark has established a method that maps, identifies and audits a council's open space lighting stock. At the end of the project, the council is then in a position to know where its lighting is located and what can be done to make it more efficient and sustainable.

Success in Victoria

Depending on the council size, Ironbark typically identifies annual savings of around 600 tonnes of greenhouse emissions and $60,000 of energy and maintenance costs. For example, the open space audit that was conducted for Moonee Valley City Council identified 690 tonnes of potential annual greenhouse savings and an annual cost savings of $66,000.

As a result of the audit, a clear strategy for Moonee Valley was able to be delivered which affected change across its entire public lighting scheme and identified replacement options, capital costs, savings and payback calculations. Knowing where their lights were located and how to make them more efficient proved to be very valuable as they were able to plan for and achieve significant greenhouse savings.

Achieving Results in Willoughby, New South Wales 

In 2012, Willoughby City Council in New South Wales engaged Ironbark to conduct an audit for its open space lighting assets, which was the first stage of a long-term external lighting sustainability program. The audit identified over $24,000 worth of annual cost savings and 175 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions reductions per annum. 

Council sites were carefully checked for potential energy and emissions savings. The field audit included providing detail on each light that could act as an opportunity to reduce energy use and compiling GIS location data so assets could be easily identified. 

The other aspect of the audit aimed to integrate the open space lights into the council’s asset management system, which allowed for lights to be more closely monitored in the long-term. Options were discussed such as either retrofitting or replacing lights so that they were compatible with new technology, such as wireless controls for remotely dimming or adjusting lighting as needed.

Why Conduct an Open Space Light Audit

An open space light audit sets your council on track for being able to build a case for a long-term sustainability action plan that has tangible results. In the case of Moonee Valley, projects were identified to reduce 690 tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent of taking over 160 cars off the road each year and over a half million dollars in cost savings over a 10 year period. 

In addition to the greenhouse gas reductions and cost savings, the improvement in lighting assets significantly improved the overall usability and general aesthetic of the open space areas, especially community-oriented spaces such as parks and sporting grounds. 

Ironbark is currently delivering open space lighting projects from Western Australia to New South Wales that aim to achieve significant greenhouse reductions. To learn more about open space lighting opportunities and lighting design, please contact us to discuss your options.