The Charge of the Light Brigade. Lights Left On, Why Can’t We Fix This? The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

GOOD: Borrowing heavily from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s famous and compelling account of extraordinary bravery, this post is to address the little hero in all of us.

I know that there are very thin lines between idiocy and meaningful dialogue, and there’s always the risk of revealing a naïveté within, but WE have got to do something about the way lights are being left on and the waste of energy that we see around us as common as litter. The hard side of me says we need to start up the Green Marines and invade the violator’s location with cameras and civic-duty citations and leave no light left behind (on). The soft side of me says forget it — it’s useless and futile and what few friends I have left will shy away for sure. So, I’ve got to go with the middle-me and here’s why.

BAD: I use the neighborhood gas station, a typical globally recognized chain. It was one o’clock in the afternoon and all of the outside lights were on. When I mentioned it to the folks behind the counter, not one of them even acknowledged what I said. Heck, I’d of turned them off myself! I wasn’t really miffed until I drove by the next day — and I saw the same thing. This time, while I sat at that red light across from the running faucet of wasted energy and money, I became permanently hyper-sensitive to lights left on and it got me wondering what I could do.

Now, everyday and everywhere — I see apartment complexes, street lights, lights in department store parking lots, church lots, houses, even the school campus I visited on official business yesterday afternoon had some outside lights on.

UGLY: I have to tell you that I’m not a big fan of statistics (unless they serve my case so well, like these ones do), but according to International Dark-Sky Association in Tucson, Arizona, one-third of all the lighting in the U.S. is wasted, at an annual cost of about 30 million barrels of oil and 8.2 million tons of coal — a total cost of about $2 billion! Not to mention the future expense and impact: http://physics.fau.edu/observatory/lightpol-econ.html and http://www.energysavers.gov. Anyway you look at this issue, we have a large carbon footprint — even if you do discount the accuracy of the “abouts,” it’s really time to develop a personal awareness and active approach.

At this point, I figure that I’ve lost about half of the people reading, but I’m willing to work with you tenacious few and that’s why the bit about the little hero in all of us.

GOOD (AGAIN): No group of professionals is better suited to tackle this problem than us. We need a simple and comprehensive street-to-street, block-to-block, neighborhood-to-neighborhood, township-to-township, county-to-county, city-to-city, state-to-state, effectively, a country-wide effort to change attitudes and eliminate energy waste.

Help create awareness at every level! Promote, educate, energize, and incentivize. The emphasis is on impact. In the fewest, least expensive steps possible, let’s get control of the exterior lighting on every building, large or small, and turn lights OFF during daylight hours using the least technology and most reliable controls possible. If photo sensors, sundials, or certain features are required because of constant fog, reduced visibility, or inclement weather, then use them or overrides — whatever, but get your package together and sell it like your future depended on it (oh, and it does by the way)!

Sign up here and become a Green Marine! Join us, help us win the war on WASTING ENERGY. We will provide the place for ideas, comments, applications, and solutions to be consolidated. Stressing safety and LJHA (local jurisdiction having authority) code compliance, we need participation at every level. From the individual, to the company, to the Trade Organizations, your Uncle Sam and Clint (the hard side prevailed) want you! After you click the link and sign up for the Green Marines, here are your initial marching orders:

Manufacturers: Provide links to your lighting and energy products and partners
ASHRAE, AHR, HARDI, ACCA, RSES: Link your local expertise and networking
CGNA, Service Experts, National Organizations: List/link members & locations
Distributors and Wholesalers: List/link where you are, & how you can assist
Contractors: Post locations, services offered, and lighting deals

How important is the War on Wasting Energy, in particular, the unconscientious practice of leaving outside lights on in broad daylight? The only person I know who has the answer for sure is our Sarah Conner. She has been to the future and has returned. Sarah, if you are still among us, please enlighten us with your wisdom. And don’t forget Sarah, be sure to turn the enLIGHTenment off, when you are finished.

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