LED lighting is becoming better and cheaper, which is a great development for the environment, consumers and of course, municipalities. Based in France, TMC Innovation for six years has been rethinking one of the most mundane cogs of our infrastructure, the streetlight.
As city governments struggle with budget cuts and volatile energy prices, long term savings can result from smart investment in new streetlights. And more cities are making the switch from older electricity-hogging bulbs to LEDs. The results are all over the map, however; new LED lighting in Los Angeles washes out the night sky. In some Silicon Valley communities such as Cupertino, the local powers that be realize the best stars are in the sky and not on red carpets, so the night skies are even clearer than they were a generation ago.
To that end, TMC Innovation is reinventing the streetlight.
When one looks at a streetlight, most see little but a long tube of steel with a lamp that blasts light at night. They have little functionality other than serving as a base for posters begging for lost dogs and cats. And most are rather drab. But TMC Innovation’s designs add functionality and also extend the life of the LED lamp at the top of the streetlight. In addition to a bevy of more modern and clean designs, the company also puts the lighting poles to smarter use.
Small strips of LED lighting generates enough light for the street level without blanketing a street and neighborhood in harsh artificial light. The company’s technology also provides municipalities the option of shutting off the top lanterns at night to conserve even more energy. TMC Innovation claims their streetlights use half the energy of similar streetlights while extending the lifespan of the pricey lanterns. And for residents, the biggest benefit is safety: the LED bands that grace the lighting poles can create a clearly lit path along sidewalks or in parks.
With its headquarters just south of Nantes, TMC Innovation has focused on the French market for now but will explore export opportunities later this year. The company employs 15 people and has revenues of about $2.2 million (1.8 million euros). But with the reinvention of one of the most basic, yet important, items in our neighborhood, the street lamp, this little company could transform how we keep our cities and streets well lit and safe at night.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business and covers sustainable architecture and design for Inhabitat. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photos courtesy TMC Innovation.