Traditionally, lighting on signposts and bollards burned 24 hours a day. This wasteful practice meant every bulb needed replacing each year. New technology monitors the light levels so that the lights come on only when needed.
“Signs don’t need to be illuminated during the day,” explains Keith Benson, the council's street lighting manager. “We’ve doubled the life expectancy of the bulbs and halved carbon emissions at a stroke. And now we’ve a double-bulb set up, where each unit has one bulb on, and one monitoring it and ready to switch on when the other wears out. That means a four year change over period. This is a massive saving in maintenance and staff time.”
A high tech computerised data inventory system is used to manage the council’s lighting all around the borough. Mr Benson’s team can easily identify where to replace lamps based on age, condition and wattage.
But that’s not all. All the borough’s lighting is 100% green, coming from wind power: Wigan is one of just a handful of councils nationally to get all its street lighting energy generated by wind turbines, and electricity bosses have praised the council for its 'progressive approach'.
All new bollards on the borough's roads are 100% recyclable, made locally using a form of plastic that can be easily reclaimed and used again at the end of the bollard's life span. Future green investment planned by the team include looking at changing to LED lighting, which have a ten year life expectancy.
Other green facts about Wigan Borough’s lamps:
- All used road lighting lamps have been recycled since 1995
- Electronic control gear now being installed is 10% more energy efficient than the standard
- Full recyclable, maintenance free stainless steel columns used with 70 year minimum life expectancy
- Reduced wattage burn of units from 1W down to 0.25W of energy.
- 67% cut in carbon emissions from traffic sign lighting; £28,192 savings
- 39.5% cut in carbon emissions from bollard lighting; £7,336 savings
Investment in new technology can be costly, but the street lighting team expect a payback period for their new bollards of just 13 months, and 5 years for the new sign technology.
Mr Benson adds: “We’re serious about the environment and about giving residents safe, value for money and sustainable street lighting."