Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Future Is Bright for Chattanooga...Literally

A company called Global Green Lighting has created a whole new approach to municipal lighting thanks, in part, to Chattanooga's ultra fast internet. Online magazine Good recently ran a story on some of innovations the EPB gig network has brought to town, including Global Green Lighting's computer-controled LEDs. They write, "Working with the city, [Global Green Lighting founder Don] Lepard created a system that not only replaces standard outdoor lighting with money-saving LEDs, but also uses cloud computing to allow municipal workers to monitor and control the lights from any computer with an internet connection. Maintenance staff can target trouble spots immediately rather than waiting for someone to report an outage. Police officers can use computers in their cruisers to turn up the lights before entering a suspicious area or set off flashing lights to signal an emergency."

Not only is Global Green Lighting changing the way cities are lit and the way they control power usage, but they are boosting the local economy by lowering the city's power bill and bringing in new jobs. Good reports that the company is "moving its manufacturing operation from China back to the United States, bringing an expected 250 jobs to Chattanooga." The city's new contract to replace all streetlights with the LED system by 2013 is also bringing new jobs to the city, according to a Bloosmberg Businessweek story that also covered Global Green. In addition to the manufacturing jobs brought back from overseas, "The company also expects to hire 1,000 people to install and maintain the equipment."

Chattanooga isn't the only lucky city to be trying out Global Green's new take on streetlights. According to Businessweek, Baltimore, Ottowa, and Tuscaloosa are also trying out the system. Not only are there steep economic savings of up to 75%, but there is the potential for enormous environmental impact. David Crocket, director of Chattanooga's sustainability office, explained to Businessweek that not only did the old type of streetlamp use a lot more power, they tended to also waste energy when they accidentally came on during the day. Any malfunction was impossible to pinpoint, making maintenance inefficient and difficult. "You’ve got a certain amount of lights out but you have no idea where they are, so workers literally drive around in a truck looking for them, and it’s a real waste," Crockett noted. Nooga.com proudly reported that Chattanooga is "first in the world to install a remote, two-way wireless communication system for LED street lighting." As more and more businesses come to town thanks to the momentum of Gig City and the high speed network, hopefully Chattanooga will be an international leader in even more environmentally friendly initiatives that create jobs, improve our cities, and change the way we embrace technology.