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Davis

Davis, California

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Downtown lights become environment-friendly

Energy-efficient lights will soon be brightening up downtown Davis.

As part of its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the City of Davis plans to retrofit core lighting in 10 parking areas in downtown Davis. Locations include E Street Plaza, Amtrak and FedEx parking lots. Light fixtures at the Central Park Pavilion, where the Farmers Market is held, will also be upgraded to low-energy lights.

On July 12, the city issued a request for proposals to provide cost-effective solutions to implement the project. The deadline was then extended to Aug. 24 when the minimum number of bids was not met.

“We extended the proposals period in order to give more time to firms, and part of that is to give out more information,” said Mitch Sears, sustainability programs manager for the city. “The period is now closed and we are in the process of evaluating [the submissions].”

A contract will be awarded to the chosen firm by the end of September and work will begin afterward, Sears said. The city plans to complete the retrofit of the 142 lights by the end of the year.

Currently, the light fixtures in the downtown parking areas burn between 70-400 Watts. While many of these lights are controlled by photocell daylight sensors and used only from dusk to dawn, some lights, such as the 400 Watt lights in the Regal Cinema parking garage, are on 24-hours per day.

“We’re doing this now because technology has evolved to practical and cost-effective ways of reducing energy usage,” Sears said.

Bi-level induction and LED are the more energy-efficient light sources that the city intends to use for this project. These light sources only use between 40-200 Watts, saving the city energy, as well as money.

“Another primary driver is the cost-savings potential of this project,” Sears said.

About 4,000 lights line the streets and parking areas around Davis, and an additional 1,000 lights brighten the parks and greenbelt pathways. Each year it costs the city $520,000 to power and maintain these light fixtures.

The replacement of these lights will lower the cost of energy and maintenance, Sears said.

The cost of replacing the lights is funded by the General Facilities Development Fees, which Davis collects to finance development projects to upgrade and improve city infrastructure.

“A portion of the money saved from the lowered cost of energy will be used to repay the account, somewhere from six to seven years time,” Sears said. “These lights will also have lower cost of maintenance, as they will last 20 years or more.”

This energy-saving project is one of many plans of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, recently passed by city actions, was proposed by the Climate Action Team, a Davis ad-hoc group formed to develop cost-effective and energy-efficient strategies. Private and public organizations form this coalition, including the UC Davis Sustainability Committee and PG&E.

“The city is looking to become more efficient to reduce greenhouse gas and energy use to lower the community’s carbon footprint,” Sears said. “We’re all just trying to do our part.”

SARAHNI PECSON can be reached at city@theaggie.org

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