What is the GHG Footprint of Street Lighting?

May 28, 2022


Marissa Wright

Environmental Light Icon

Street Lighting, GHGs, and Climate Change

What is the GHG footprint of Street Lighting? What is the problem with global warming, and how can Tondo’s Smart Lighting help?

US President Joe Biden has set a goal of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 185 countries are committed to the 2016 Paris Agreement, which is a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Global warming is already recognized as one of the most serious risks to human and animal life, and action should be taken. Drought, flood, forest fires, animal extinction, water shortages, and human health are all consequences of urban growth. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is one of the most important actions we can take to improve our quality of life.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that capture heat in the atmosphere – most of us know this part).

Natural amounts are good for some things; without them, the temperature on earth would have been -18 degrees celsius. However, since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the earth overheating.

The well-known GHG footprint is a measurement of a product’s, organization’s, or individual’s total greenhouse gas emissions that include carbon dioxide (CO2) but also include methane and nitrous oxide.

The main causes of the growth in GHG footprint are fuel combustion from natural resources or energy generation, industrial agriculture, particularly animal husbandry, waste combustion, and deforestation.

On a personal level, each of us may reduce our carbon footprint by changing our habits, such as driving less, consuming less, and eating less meat. There are many calculators on the internet that allow us to calculate our own personal ecological footprint by answering a series of questions.

At the industrial level, reducing the carbon footprint will include, among other things, energy efficiency, converting to renewable energies and decreasing the waste of raw materials and food.

It is estimated that 40% of the carbon footprint comes from electricity generation and 17% from lighting. A 2018 study showed that replacing incandescent lighting with LED lighting resulted in a 41% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint, followed by a 14% reduction from dimming and an additional 8% reduction in GHG footprint from adaptive smart lighting control. This offers an opportunity for a 22% reduction in the GHG footprint of street lighting using solutions such as Tondo’s Smart Lighting for a combined reduction of 63% in street lighting GHG footprint.

The Effects of Smart Lighting on the GHG Footprint of Street Lighting


This is the part many people don’t realize: we often take street lighting for granted (except perhaps those of us who work with street lights). We walk through streets, parking lots, and around buildings that are surrounded by lights.

When we stop and think about the fact that wherever there are people, cars, trucks, buildings, sports stadiums, and public transportation, there are outdoor lights.

Most of them are old. They use older, energy-inefficient lamps. They are often controlled in groups rather than individually. When they were originally installed, people didn’t think much of light pollution or energy efficiency.

The electricity they use is produced by a wide range of methods depending on the resources available in their region. It can be clean energy from newer wind, wave, and solar power. However, the majority of electricity generated in the world is generated from burning fossil fuels.

Many organizations are already replacing their outdoor lighting with energy efficient LED lighting, and the savings are significant. With Smart Lighting control, we can take another huge step forward in reducing the massive GHG footprint of outdoor lighting.

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A pie chart comparing the benefits of an LED retrofit project to Smart Lighting and Smart City Network projects

Tondo Smart Lighting also creates an open standards-based Smart City network for connecting sensors and other wireless and wired devices to Tondo's Cloud-IQ management platform.

This can reduce sensor and device deployment costs by 80% or more versus proprietary networks or individual cellular connections, with a 3.5x or greater benefit versus your LED retrofit project, and 7x over Smart Lighting alone.

A chart describing examples of the cost components of for different types of street light dimming control versus dusk-to-dawn and always-on lighting.

Smart Lighting enables organizations to specify the light levels set by national standards, as well as vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian demand, or based on safety and security data for a given area.

This not only reduces lighting costs, but improves the quality of light when it is needed.

Normally open(NO) and Normally closed (NC) are terms used to define the states that switches, sensors or relay contacts are under when they are not activated.

A NO contact or a normally open contact is the one that remains open until a certain condition is satisfied such as a button being pressed or some other manner of activation such as those based on temperature, pressure, etc.

A NC contact or normally closed contact is the exact opposite of NO contact by function. It remains closed until a certain condition is satisfied.

Lighting control cabinets typically control a group of street lights or advertising signage from a "control cabinet". These controls have historically provided on-off functionality based on the time of day using an "astronomical clock"-based switch or daylight photosensor. Lights are controlled in groups with no individual control over a specific light.

Although new controllers such as Tondo's Edge-IQ controller have replaced the cabinet-based approach with new technologies that include advanced dimming, remote cloud-control, and support for functionality including sensors and switches, there are many outdoor lights and signs that do not support on-lamp control. Tondo's Cabinet-IQ controller provides new advanced IoT technology support for existing cabinet-controlled lighting.

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Both NB-IoT and CAT-M1 are supported under the 5G technology specifications and therefore are ideal for selecting as a standard for sensor communications.


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Source: The calculation for the addressable U.S. market is based on the US Department of Energy 2015 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization, issued November 2018

The 2022 estimate is calculated for each lighting category measured by the US DOE by applying the market growth factors for each category between 2015 and 2021 based on U.S. Census data.

The full Excel data set that accompanies this report can be downloaded here.

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The API spells out the proper way for a developer to write a program requesting services from an operating system or other application.

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A DIN rail is a metal rail of a standard type widely used for mounting circuit breakers and industrial control equipment inside equipment racks.

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"7" describes the protection from water: Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 meter (3 ft 3 in) of submersion). Test duration: 30 minutes.

Modbus is a data communications protocol originally published in 1979. Modbus has become a de facto standard communication protocol and is now a commonly available means of connecting and communicating with industrial electronic devices.

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RS-485, also known as TIA-485(-A) or EIA-485, is a serial communications standard.

Electrical signalling is balanced, and multipoint systems are supported. Digital communications networks implementing the standard can be used effectively over long distances and in electrically noisy environments.

This table describes the differences between 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular communications standards.

4G devices will work on 4G LTE networks and the earlier cellular technologies, including 3G, EGPRS, and 2G.

Smart city sensors require very little bandwidth, and 3G EGPRS and 4G LTE can easily support the required data rates.

5G networks are relatively new, and most 5G deployments use a combination of 4G and 5G networks.


A diagram describing the DALI smart lighting control system

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The NEMA ANSI C137.10 standard specifies roadway and area lighting equipment connector compatibility. The 3-pin standard does not provide for dimming control, but provides for on/off operation. The later standard C137.41 adds dimming control (5- and 7-pin connectors) and sensor control (7-pin connectors). The newer C137.4-2021 standard provides enhanced functionality and compatibility with the DALI D4i lighting and sensor control standard.

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The NEMA ANSI C137.41 standard specifies covers roadway and area lighting equipment connection interoperability. The 7-pin receptacle provides for dimming control and sensor communications.

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The NEMA ANSI C137.41 5-pin connector variant adds support for dimming control, but does not include sensor communications support which is supported by the 7-pin connector.

DALI, or Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, is a dedicated protocol for digital lighting control that enables the easy installation of robust, scalable and flexible lighting networks.

Wiring is relatively simple; DALI power and data is carried by the same pair of wires, without the need for a separate bus cable.

Read more at the DALI Alliance website: Introduction to DALI

The TALQ Consortium has established a globally accepted standard for management software interfaces to configure, command, control and monitor heterogeneous outdoor device networks (ODN) including smart street lighting.

This way interoperability between Central Management Software (CMS) and Outdoor Device Networks (ODN, so called ‘gateways’) for smart city applications from different vendors is enabled, such that a single CMS can control different ODNs in different parts of a city or region.

Read more at the TALQ website

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D4i is the DALI standard for intelligent, IoT-ready luminaires.

By taking care of control and power requirements, D4i makes it much easier to mount sensors and communication devices on luminaires. In addition, intelligent D4i LED drivers inside the luminaire have the capability to store and report a wide range of luminaire, energy and diagnostics data in a standardized format.

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Highly reliable hardware, firmware, and software components that perform specific, critical security functions. Because roots of trust are inherently trusted, they must be secure by design. Roots of trust provide a firm foundation from which to build security and trust.

Read more at the National Institute of Standards and Technology: Roots of Trust

The 0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 accuracy class electricity meters established within ANSI C12.20-2015 are accurate to within +/-0.1%, +/-0.2%, and +/-0.5% of true value at a full load.

Read more at the ANSI Blog: ANSI C12.20-2015 – Electricity Meters – 0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 Accuracy Classes.

Source: US Department of Energy 2015 U.S. Lighting Market Characterization, issued November 2018

The full Excel data set that accompanies this report can be downloaded here.

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The world would collectively achieve 10,546 TWh of energy savings by 2030 [with energy efficient lighting], a sum comparable to over 40% of the world electricity generation in 2011. Saving this amount of energy would prevent the emissions of 5,400 Mt CO2, a figure equivalent
to over 15% of the global emissions in 2011.

Source: United Nations Environment Programme (2014). Green Paper - Policy Options to Accelerate the Global Transition to Advanced Lighting.