Wednesday, May 13, 2009

what's up the pike: eight days (until graduation)

Photographer extraordinaire/friend of JUTP Chip Py sent us this photo a few weeks ago of a couple on the platform of the Silver Spring Metro. If you haven't checked out his website or photos of ICC construction on his Flickr page, you owe yourself a look. Anyway:

- Prezco, the umbrella group of Silver Spring civic associations, is holding their Safe Silver Spring summit this Saturday at Montgomery College's Takoma Park-Silver Spring campus. The meeting will take place in two sessions - one at 8 a.m. and another at 11:30 for you late risers - with lectures, workshops and, of course, a free lunch.

- The two writers trying to buy a house in Silver Spring who are chronicling their search on "Newmans Own," the blog from Slate magazine . . . still haven't found a house yet. No word if they've figured out that the schools here aren't as bad as their Realtor made them out to be.

- Remember former County Council candidate Andrew Padula's idea to replace streetlights with more efficient LED lights and manufacturing them in East County? It's actually a real thing - the lights, I mean. "Everyone thought I was crazy," wrote Padula when he e-mailed me this link for a workshop on LED lights in Pennsylvania. MoCo might want to consider sending someone up there.


Dan Reed said...

This couple is VERY Silver Spring: the girl has ripped jeans and a studded belt; the boy, long, long hair. I love it.

Thomas Hardman said...

Dan, Andrew Padula's idea to replace municipal exterior lighting isn't particularly new, the industry -- by which I mean both the LED manufacturing industry and the broad-based coalitions of local governments -- has been aggressively replacing traffic signals for nearly a decade. Indeed, I was promoting this and comparable concepts even back in 2008's Special Elections, when I was basing my campaign on a need for extreme cost-cutting measures due to the inevitability of the housing-bubble collapse. (At the time, it wasn't on anyone else's radar, so to speak.)

What is new is the idea of building an industry manufacturing LED streetlights at a facility in East MoCo. This isn't too different, however, from my proposals in 2008 to begin developing a green/solar industry. For example, back in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, I circulated an idea to various County officials in the public-safety sector, to equip police cruisers with Stop Signs on stands that would be equipped with solar collectors and LED lights, to be placed in signal-controlled intersections where widespread power-failures had rendered the signals inoperative. As usual, those who didn't utterly ignore me called me a wacko; in any case, the idea was dismissed.

I don't know why I keep giving away quick and easy solutions to expensive problems when all that happens is that either I get ignored, get called crazy, or get to watch someone else take credit and make money off of it. Hence, I now stick to critiquing other people since that seems to be what gets you mileage around here.

LED lighting isn't quite ready for prime-time in terms of street lighting, due to the combination of the extremely high initial cost of high-power emitters. These costs will be more than offset over the life of the emitters, from the power savings, but still the initial capital outlay just for the emitters -- to say nothing of the power-supply and related engineering and retrofit costs -- is extremely high and difficult to justify in the present circumstances.

Furthermore, light is emitted from LEDs at a very slight angle (usually a bit less than 30 degrees cone), rather than radiating in a sphere as in incandescent/florescent lighting. This has the benefit of limiting backscatter and light pollution, but it also means that LED lighting is a spot, rather than area lighting. Thus, in many ways, it would be excellent for lighting the streets for vehicular safety, but it does nothing much to increase general illumination of an area, which means that it's not all that helpful in public-safety illumination for example in high-crime areas.