Candlelight. Gas lamps. Electric light. Incandescent. Fluorescent. LED.

Dating back to antiquity, lighting has undergone a consistent evolution leading to this moment in time when LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have become the game-changing energy source.

We’d like to say sports arenas are leading the evolutionary way – or should we say lighting the way – with the 2015 Super Bowl the first to be played illuminated by LEDs.

But it’s major cities that are the frontrunners making the switch.

  • Los Angeles has installed over 140,000 LED streetlights and spent $57 million to retrofit 215,000 lights.
  • The Washington, DC Metro system began a major project to upgrade to LED lighting in 25 parking garages.
  • San Jose, CA is replacing 62,000 streetlights to LED lights including a control and monitoring system.
  • Las Vegas installed 42,000 LED streetlights and is saving $2 million a year on energy and maintenance costs.
  • Plan NYC includes replacement of all 250,000 streetlights with LEDs, predicting an 80% decrease in maintenance costs of $8 million a year and $6 million a year in energy savings.
  • London announced the largest street modernization project with plans to replace 350,000 of the 520,000 city streetlights with LED lights by 2016.
  • Both the Asian and European markets are predicted to have converted 70% of its lighting to LED by 2020.

Electric lamps have been around since the 19th century with the first LED constructed in 1961. But the small, bright light (and white) LEDs we use today are a 21st century achievement.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE) solid-state lighting is showing very significant advances. The annual energy cost savings from LEDs more than doubled in 2013 from the previous year, increasing to $1.8 billion – enough to pay the annual lighting electricity bill for over 14 million U.S. homes.
By 2025, at a price of $0.10/kilowatt-hour, the DOE found solid-state lighting technology offers the potential to save $21.7 billion annually.
Property owners are now well versed on the long-term cost savings of LED lighting as well as lower replacement and maintenance costs and savings on cooling costs.Why then is not every commercial building converting to LED lighting?

The answer is money.

While predictions are that solid-state lighting will be the dominant lighting technology within the next decade and commercial property owners can see the competitive advantage, they must still be able and willing to afford or finance hundreds of thousands of dollars in upfront costs.

It’s a large pill to swallow but with its numerous cost saving benefits and the cost of LEDs decreasing, a LED lighting retrofit can provide a ROI in a few years.
Thus, the future of LED is – dare we say? – bright.

Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C
President, Metropolitan Valuation Services