Installation of LED Streetlights in Waikiki Begins in July 2018 Part 3 of our Series on Light Pollution in Waikiki
The city has finally announced when the conversion of all Waikiki streetlights to new energy-saving LEDs will take place. The work, starting in July 2018 and ending in October 2019, will be carried out by the monolithic Johnson Controls corporation. Their project website www.myoahustreetlight.com/ now provides much of the information we have been seeking for the past two years.
The total cost of replacing all 53,000 streetlights on Oahu will be just under $50 million. This cost will be offset by using 60% less electricity - to save about $5 million per year - so in 10 years the project will pay for itself. This is the good news and nobody disputes this.
LED “luminaires” are arrays of diodes. Without diffuser lenses the light is painful to look at
Our stories a few years ago on this website raised many questions about the safety and aesthetics of this massive permanent environmental change to the night sky for all of Oahu residents and wildlife. Here are some of the topics we covered:
Safety Since the American Medical Association first raised concerns about the possible damage to human eyesight from some bright ultra-white LED lamps, the city and Johnson Controls have at last responded with some answers on their FAQ pages: “The effects of the LED street lights on human health will be negligible because the light will be directed on the roadways with very little trespass onto private property. Furthermore, we are using the 3000K color temperature LEDs, which have less blue content than the 4000K LEDs and are recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA).”
Color Temperature It is generally accepted that ultra-white LED lamps, with their unnatural bluish cast, can disrupt human and animal sleep patterns. That is why most computers and smartphones now have a special nighttime brightness setting that uses a much warmer hue. Johnson’s answer is: “The State Department of Transportation installed LED street lights with a color temperature of 4000K along the freeways and major state roadways. The City will be installing warmer white LED street lights with a color temperature of 3000K along the streets in residential areas and with a color temperature of 4000K along the major streets in commercial/mixed use areas, such as along King Street in Downtown Honolulu. Approximately 90% of the new LED street lights will have the 3000K color temperature.”
Light Pollution and Trespass With virtually no city and county regulation of powerful new ultra-bright and ultra-white LED lamps shining onto public spaces or private properties, Oahu is already awash in excessive illumination that has killed the concept of Soft Warm Hawaiian Nights with Tiki Torch flames. A walk through Waikiki at night demonstrates that many hundreds of condo and commercial buildings have now installed LED lights in their garages, staircases and open areas with no concern for the Optical Radiation they are casting into properties and spaces that do not belong to them. Unlike some neighbor islands that have carefully regulated exterior lighting, Oahu has revealed the nightmare of what we called the “Death of Darkness” from LED over-illumination. The answer is simple - ensure that all external LED lamps have shielding around them that prevents their light from Trespass into neighboring spaces. An almost complete absence of LED lamp shielding on Oahu has resulted in the entire island, and especially Waikiki, now looking more like Las Vegas at night. In residential areas many people report that their neighbors are blasting their homes with unwanted lighting that looks more like prison yards. The only solution will be lawsuits that punish people who disturb other properties with unwanted light. The city has addressed this concern on the Johnson website FAQ: “The LED street lights in the residential areas will have flat glass lenses that will eliminate uplight and will have an internal reflector system to focus the light on the roadway. This will also greatly reduce the impact to migratory seabirds. These street lights with 3000K color temperature have also been approved by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). The LED street light fixtures along North King Street in Kalihi and in Chinatown will have globe-type lenses to match the style of the existing fixtures. There will be some uplight from these fixtures due to the physics of light transmittance through the lenses. The effects of the LED street lights on human health will be negligible because the light will be directed on the roadways with very little trespass onto private property. Furthermore, we are using the 3000K color temperature LEDs, which have less blue content than the 4000K LEDs and are recommended by the American Medical Association (AMA).
What’s Ahead For a glimpse of Waikiki’s future new LED street lights you can already take a look at Ala Moana Boulevard where the conversion was completed last year. These powerful ultra-white lamps are not so well shielded and the light they cast far and wide is rather ghostly. Traffic engineers will praise them but residents will lament the loss of the warm light from the previous sodium lamps. Johnson says all of their new LED lamps will be capable of individual central control, hopefully allowing dimming as needed.
We praise the City and Johnson Controls for finally responding to the concerns of many about the massive project to convert all of the island’s street light to LED technology. By later next year we will be able to see what our new nights look like.
The Ala Wai Promenade Must Be Saved: Honolulu's most beautiful public space is threatened unless new initiatives succeed
Welcome To The Outdoor Circle Greater Waikiki Branch
The Mission of The Outdoor Circle is to keep Hawaii clean, green, and beautiful for future generations by preserving, protecting, and enhancing our environment.
The Outdoor Circle (“TOC”) is the state’s oldest and most respected environmental preservation organization. It is perhaps best known for the banning of billboards throughout the islands in 1926. Throughout the years, TOC has expanded its scope to include green space protection, view corridor preservation, tree advocacy and many other issues that impact the quality of life for our residents and visitors. It operates only in the state of Hawaii and has seven currently active branches. It was established in 1912. See TOC State Office website page for the full history.
The Greater Waikiki Branch was begun in January 2016 to address issues relating to the unique urban environment of the state’s most important economic center. Its District includes Waikiki (from Ala Wai Canal to beaches), Ala Moana Park and Kapi’olani Park.
Waikiki is arguably the most beautiful destination in the world. It is also the economic engine of the State of Hawaii and the center of its thriving international tourism industry. Each day about 150,000 people are in Waikiki to work, play and live and roughly 40,000 residents call it home. Waikiki generates about 46% of the state's visitor industry expenditures, 8% ($5 billion) of the Gross State Product and 11% of all jobs. Among the many reasons it is such an acclaimed paradise are its stunning heritage of trees and its freedom from the visual blight of billboards and most other forms of outdoor advertising.
The History of Waikiki is a topic we will be studying in the next few months. In the meantime, please look at our History page.
Once a place of streams, fish ponds and taro-growing mud fields, the area was changed forever when the dredging of the Ala Wai Canal, which opened in 1929, transformed the geography and created Modern Waikiki.
Website created by Ireland Derby We love Waikiki!
Join The Outdoor Circle and choose Waikiki as your Branch Affiliation. Your annual membership dues gives you membership to both The Outdoor Circle and the Waikiki Branch!
We'll add you to our monthly mailing list and soon you will be able to download all our Walks Maps and Guides.