Chicago’s LED Infrastructure Overhaul

- Jun 21, 2019-

The Chicago Infrastructure TrusT (the “CIT”) announced the initiative with a request for information in September 2015. The CIT has received and is currently evaluating responses to this request. Several phases of the project will elapse before any existing lights are replaced, including open bids, requests for quotations and proposals, contracting, and construction. Financing for the project is anticipated to come from cost savings and increased efficiencies that will be realized once the system is fully deployed. Several aspects of the initiative make it noteworthy within the LED lighting industry.

First, this project represents the largest single LED retrofit in any single location throughout the world. Other cities, including Los Angeles, have already made inroads to retrofitting streetlights with LED technology, but Chicago’s plan is the most ambitious of all major US cities.

This project also reflects the city’s desire for a public-private partnership to develop an optimum solution for the city’s lighting issues. The CIT is an organization of private Chicago business leaders who are combining their finance and management expertise to improve the city’s commercial and residential appeal. It is one of the CIT’s first major initiatives. The September 2015 request for information received 40 separate responses from sponsoring organizations, each of which included input from four or five other private entities.

It also seeks to accomplish more than just an install of retrofitted and replacement street lights. The newest generations of LED technology include smart systems that can respond and react to ambient conditions to provide more or less light as needed, and to read and provide feedback on traffic conditions. A few private companies have rolled out smartphone apps that allow drivers to pre-arrange parking at locations around the city. Some respondents to the CIT’s request for information believe that smart LED technology can feed into these apps to improve parking availability and efficiency.

The city’s LED lighting systems will undergo many changes as the CIT’s LED initiative continues to take form. LED lighting and systems manufacturers will have myriad opportunities to help the city meet its goals. The long-term benefits of these opportunities will extend to all other municipalities that are considering upgrading their own lighting systems. Information that is developed for the Chicago project will be readily adaptable to other platforms in other cities.