Edinburgh lights up stairwells in historic tenements with modern LEDs When you live in a private apartment block in Edinburgh, the stairwell lighting can be like an extension of the outdoor street lights in the sense that the Edinburgh City Council pays for it. And so it is that the great British streetlight battle has gone indoors.

No, the Edinburgh City Council is not turning off the stairway lights. Rather, the Council is – you guessed it – replacing around 90,000 bulbs in thousands of the city's so-called tenements with energy saving LEDs models, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.

The city expects the £9 million project to cut energy consumption and slash costs by 50 percent.

Edinburgh's tenements include the historic privately owned buildings that make up a large part of the city's distinctive housing stock, known for stone facades, high ceilings and ornamental detail. Many of them date from the 19th century; some are older, and some date up to the 1970s. Various public policies look after their heritage and maintenance.

'Not many people realise that the council does pay for and maintain the stair lighting in all the tenements in Edinburgh and there is a need to upgrade them,' Councillor Rickey Henderson told the paper.

The city will solicit bids. It anticipates a four-year project at a cost of about £6 million for lamps and fittings and £2.9 million for the work.

'To get better quality and more environmentally friendly lighting we will tender for that work,' Henderson said. 'The investment will need to be taken out of reserves but will be put back over a period of time because the lights will be more efficient and the maintenance costs will be reduced.'

One controversy in the UK's raging streelight debates is that LED lamps illuminate only a narrow area compared to conventional sodium lamps.

Will that be a problem in the tenement stairwells? The Edinburgh Evening News reported that:

'Housing leaders admitted there had been concerns when street lighting was replaced with energy-efficient alternatives, amid worries urban areas were not being properly illuminated. They stressed a pilot of the proposed new service had already been carried out in six tenement stairs, with residents who completed questionnaires expressing full satisfaction.'

A pilot is one thing. This is a project in its infancy, with many more steps to climb.

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Photo: Stairing at LEDs. Edinburgh council is installing energy efficient LEDs in stairwells of many of the city's historic tenements. Image is from StockCube/Shutterstock

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Want to sound off on the great British streetlighting debate? Come to LuxLive 2014 this November in London. Lively streetlighting sessions and much more.