Abu Dhabi plans next phase of sustainable lighting strategy

Abu Dhabi City Municipality is to roll out the next stage of its ambitious plan to cut the total cost of public lighting by 60-75% over the next two decades. Streetlighting is being upgraded to LED systems, saving the Municipality more than AED 3.2 million per annum in energy costs.

Phase two of the sustainable lighting strategy, first devised in 2011 and taken forward with the assistance of Abu Dhabi's lighting expert Martin Valentine, will see further lowering of road lighting levels, mandatory light management through dimming controls, the introduction of a quality mark scheme for external LED equipment and moves to include wider public realm lighting in addition to streetlighting.

The Municipality is currently running a demonstration project to test the effects of reducing lighting levels on roads. “We think we can bring energy costs down by a further 30% by lowering levels,” says Valentine (pictured). “Depending on what kind of road is being lit, from small access roads to highways, we are looking at reducing levels by 33-40%.”  The plan is under discussion with stakeholders including the police department.

Mandatory dimming will be introduced to further reduce energy costs and light pollution. “The Municipality is working on revisions to the lighting specification,” says Valentine. “When we launched the strategy back in 2011, we always said it would need revisions. Technology costs are falling and this affects the economics and paybacks.” Guidance on design, scheme submission and the approvals process will be issued.

There is a push to integrate the lighting strategy with the work of Abu Dhabi’s Quality and Conformity Council (QCC), with the introduction of a quality mark scheme for external LED fittings, similar to the EU’s CE Mark scheme. This could become mandatory in the future. “This would be a major change for Abu Dhabi, and make things open and fair for manufacturers,” says Valentine. “Independent laboratory testing will ensure that streetlights can do the job and perform in the environment. The marketplace will know it can do what it says on the tin.”

Plans are also afoot to include streetlighting into Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s Estidama environmental assessment method. Lighting projects that go beyond minimum standards could claim additional credits, for example by reducing light pollution.

The lighting strategy also includes public realm lighting beyond streetlighting. Lighting in spaces such as the new Mushrif Central Park must meet the standards laid down for quality of environment, light pollution, colour temperature and ease of maintenance. “Schemes such as Mushrif and Sheik Zayed Bridge are a sensation here, and the feature lighting is part of that,” says Valentine.

The strategy is expected to cut the total cost of public lighting in Abu Dhabi by about 60-75% over the next two decades. It will also slash power consumption by at least 60%, diminish carbon dioxide emissions by about 75%, and minimise equipment and maintenance works by about 40-80% in the future.