Energy-efficient Street Lighting for Safety and Urban Design

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Published: 21 October 2020
Last edited: 11 November 2022
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Hirosaki City and Aomori City in Tohoku, Japan, faced challenges to improve security and energy-efficiency on streets. They have been proactively replacing conventional streetlights with LEDs since 2010. Due to the limited budget, the cities adopted an Energy Service Company (ESCO) model for installing, maintaining, and financing the LED street lighting service. This model allows local governments to benefit by commissioning the energy service to private business operators through an energy saving performance contract.


East Asia
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Buildings and facilities
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Infrastructure maintenance
Urban planning
Other theme
Energy Efficiency
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
City management, governance and finance
Resilience and disaster risk management
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
Aichi targets
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Hirosaki Shi, Aomori Prefecture, Japan


The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 caused serious power shortage across east Japan due to nuclear power plants damaged by Tsunami. This experience of local governments highlighted the importance of saving energy in a wide range of public facilities. At the same time, street security and safety are always concerns in communities. The local governments essentially need to ensure street safety while saving the lighting energy.


  • Residents of Hirosaki City and Aomori City
  • Private companies in Hirosaki City and Aomori City

How do the building blocks interact?

LED light is an energy-efficient alternative for street lighting with lower environmental footprint. Both of the city governments proactively replaced street lights with LEDs by applying an ESCO scheme. Two major factors among others pushed the governments to initiate the ESCO projects: 1) electric power companies lowered electricity charge of LEDs, 2) management companies and LED manufacturers innovatively retrofitted LED lights to meet the regional needs.


Economic Impact: As a result of this implementation, the city government’s electricity bill fell by JPY 30 million annually, which is a saving of JPY 9 million. Additionally, the neighborhood association does not need to pay for maintenance. For example, before the project, the city had a budget of JPY 72 million for streetlights. However, after the project in 2014, the total budget was reduced to JPY 67 million (JPY 33 million for electricity and JPY 34 million for commission).


Social Impact: This project installed 138,000 LED streetlights. Since LEDs save on lighting costs, the saved costs are now spent on maintenance for the lights. In addition, LED streetlights are brighter than conventional lights, thereby working to prevent crime and are believed to increase safety in communities. It is also expected that brighter streets would increase visibility for drivers and pedestrians, especially at night, eventually leading to a decrease in traffic accidents.


Environmental Impact: LEDs use only 30% of the electricity consumed by conventional lights. This project resulted in a decrease of 1,236 tons of CO2 annually. In addition, the increased brightness of the streets is expected to ensure a cleaner environment for cities because people tend to avoid littering in brighter streets compared to darker ones.


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TDLC / DRM Hub Japan World Bank