Energy & Water Efficiency

The City of Fremont has completed a comprehensive energy and water efficiency upgrade project with Opterra Energy Servicesan energy services company (ESCO). The scope of work included:
  • Converting all primary roadway and residential street lighting to energy-saving LEDs.
  • Upgrading all public park and plaza lighting to energy-saving LEDs.
  • Upgrading all public facility lighting and plumbing fixtures to high-efficiency options.
  • Installing weather-based irrigation controls at city parks.
  • Installing energy-saving pool pump controls at the Aqua Adventure Water Park. 
Together, these measures are projected to save an annual 4.7 million kWh of electricity, 12,000 therms of natural gas, and 8.7 million gallons of water, reducing the City's greenhouse gas footprint by a total of 976 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

LED Streetlight Upgrade

The installation of the new LED standard "cobrahead" streetlight fixtures began in October 2016. The majority of streetlights along major roadways and residential streets have been upgraded at this time.

For neighborhoods with non-standard “decorative" streetlight fixtures (top hat, globe, mission bell, teardrop, lantern, or box-shaped), the upgrades are almost complete.

For private streets, the City does not maintain the streetlights in those areas, but residents are encouraged to discuss an LED upgrade with their homeowner’s associations (HOAs).


What are the benefits of converting the City's streetlights to LEDs?

LED streetlights provide a number of benefits, including improvements in safety, reductions in maintenance costs, and greenhouse gas emission reductions:
  1. Improved light quality: The City's existing streetlights contain HPS (high pressure sodium) lamps. HPS lighting is known for its warm yellowish-orange glow, while LEDs (light emitting diodes) provide a natural light color, similar to that of moonlight. In addition to its yellow color, the light provided by HPS has a very low color rendering index (CRI), making it difficult to differentiate between colors of similar hue, especially in the dark. LEDs, on the other hand, offer a broad spectrum of light, allowing one to see a full range of colors even at night. Finally, LEDs are a point source light, meaning that they illuminate only the areas that they are engineered to illuminate, helping to reduce light pollution and maintain a dark sky. In addition, this allows LEDs to provide better coverage on the ground than their HPS counterparts, helping to eliminate dark areas between poles and making our streets and sidewalks safer for drivers and pedestrians, and aligning with our Vision Zero 2020 goals.
  2. Reduced energy consumption: LEDs use approximately 1/2 to 2/3 less energy than their HPS counterparts, making them an environmentally preferable choice. Converting all of the City's streetlights to LED is estimated to reduce the City's energy consumption by nearly 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, lowering greenhouse gas emissions accordingly by 775 metric tons and saving the City $590,000 on its annual electric utility bills.
  3. Longer lifetime: Our current HPS lights have an average lifetime of about 25,000 hours, whereas LEDs can last over 100,000 hours. This means that there will be overall fewer lighting outages, and that the City will not need to replace the new LEDs for approximately 20 years.
  4. Reduced maintenance costs: Maintenance costs for the upkeep and repair of the City's 16,000+ streetlight inventory is no easy task. With a new inventory of lights that will not require replacing for the decades to come, the City will be able to save over $280,000 annually on its streetlight maintenance costs.

How is the City responding to concerns about high-intensity blue lighting?

On June 16, 2016, American Medical Association (AMA) adopted guidance on selecting among LED lighting options to minimize the harmful effects of high-intensity street lighting. In particular, the AMA encouraged communities to minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. 

The City of Fremont is planning to upgrade all existing streetlights to either neutral or warm-white LED options in order to minimize the amount of short-wave blue light that is of concern to the AMA. Specifically, all streetlights installed in residential areas will be no greater than 35 watts, and will contain a “color temperature” of 3000K, consistent with the AMA's recommendation of a low-intensity lamp that minimizes short-wave blue light. These warm-white residential LED lamps will still provide for significant increases in residential streetlight quality and color-rendering, making our streets safer for our residents at night. 

On higher-traffic arterial roadways and in other high traffic areas, the LEDs installed will be a 4000K neutral-white color temperature, similar to moonlight. (View a map of the City's high traffic areas, labeled as primary and minor arterials.) The LEDs will provide higher visibility for traffic and pedestrian safety benefits, consistent with our Vision Zero 2020 policy. Furthermore, appropriate shielding will be installed on LED lights to ensure that both glare and light pollution are kept to a minimum.

If you are interested in learning more about LED lighting, you can read the following from the Department of Energy:
  • True Colors: A report on LEDs and the relationship between CCT, CRI, optical safety, material degradation, and photobiological stimulation
  • LED Street Lighting:  U.S. Department of Energy's June 21, 2016 response to the AMA's community guidance on street lighting.

What about the night sky?

LEDs are much better at reducing light pollution than their high pressure sodium counterparts because LEDs have a 180 degree cutoff and do not provide any uplighting. In addition, the LEDs that the City is using are the GreenCobra™ LEDs produced by Silicon Valley based company Leotek Electronics USA, and their product is Dark Sky Certified.

Do the new LED fixtures contain any smart sensing technologies?

The new streetlights are simply a fixture replacement of the previous high-pressure sodium lamps, and do not contain any smart sensing technologies at this time. On the top of the fixture, there is a photosensor that controls the lamp to turn on at dusk and off at dawn. Any lamps that you see on during daylight hours have obstructed or faulty sensors and should be reported to Streetlight Maintenance for repair.

What does the City do with all the old fixtures?

All construction and demolition debris is subject to proper recycling and disposal per the City of Fremont’s Waste Handling Plan. This requires that 100 percent of any asphalt and concrete and 50 percent of any other materials, including components of the old streetlight fixtures, be processed in designated recycling facilities.

Standard Cobrahead Streetlight Fixture


Non-Standard "Decorative" Streetlight Fixtures

Tear Drop 2