Chicago Streets Getting New Energy-Efficient Lighting

Chicago is engaging in some high-profile efforts to modernize transportation systems. Because the city has been aggressive in developing an infrastructure of electric charging stations, Nissan accelerated the rollout of its new electric car. The streets those new electric cars will drive down will feature new, energy-efficient lights.

The new, metal-halide lights will use less energy than the current streetlamps. Chicago, according to Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials, is the first large U.S. city to install the relatively new technology en masse. City officials estimate an annual $1.8 million in electrical cost savings, as well as a reduction of nearly 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

“If you’ve seen Chicago from the sky, you’ve seen the orange glow,” CDOT spokesman Brian Steele said. “It won’t be that way anymore.”

The older, yellow-orange glow will be steadily replaced by the brighter white lights, thanks to federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. So far, about 2,300 lights along Lake Shore Drive from 71st Street to Hollywood Avenue, nearly 3,000 lights along Western Avenue from Howard Street to 119th Street and about 300 miles of alleyways across the city are scheduled for replacement. The city started the project last year and is expected to wrap it up this summer.

The modernization of Chicago’s transportation system touches on themes in several Roosevelt seminars, including SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning (offered this summer at the downtown campus) and SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change (maintaining a waitlist for this autumn’s online section) may be of interest. For more information on these or any other of our courses, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email

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