The Texan city of Houston aims to retrofit 165,000 street lights over the next three years, making it the largest such project in the USA and cutting street lighting electricity use in half.

In 2014, the City of Houston partnered with CenterPoint Energy to convert approximately 165,000 street lights from high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor, and metal halide to light-emitting diode (LED) technology. As the largest LED street light conversion in the USA, this project will reduce Houston’s street light electricity usage by approximately 50% and reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. In the process, the conversion will save the city more than $1.4 million annually in electricity savings. Thirty-five thousand street lights have already been converted, with the remainder planned for the next three years.

While CO2 reductions and energy efficiency are the primary goals of this project, converting conventional street lights to LEDs has the added benefits of increasing the quality of outdoor lighting and safety of public spaces. The project builds on a 2009 partnership with Siemens, in which the city retrofitted more than 40,000 traffic lights and 7,000 pedestrian signals, saving nearly 10 million kWh of electricity and $1.3 million annually.

38,000 metric tons of CO2 reduced annually once LED installation is complete 

The challenge

As this project has been a partnership with the private utility company, CenterPoint Energy, it highlights that energy efficiency upgrades are not only necessary for environmental sustainability but make a strong and compelling business case. By learning from other best practice cases and taking time to run multiple successful pilots, this partnership proves that energy-efficient LED conversion can appeal to multiple bottom lines.


Economic The LED street light project will save the city more than $28 million over the life of the LEDs.

Environmental Nearly 60 million kWh will be reduced annually through the LED street light conversion.

Health Once completed, the LED conversion will reduce the amount of mercury in the environment by 7,255 grams annually.

Social The project promotes safety and comfort in the city by improving nighttime visibility, producing more uniform lighting distribution, and eliminating dark areas between light fixtures.

About Houston

Houston is the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth-most populous city in the United States. Houston’s economy has a broad industrial base in energy, manufacturing, aeronautics, and transportation. Leading in health care sectors and building oilfield equipment, outside New York City, Houston has more Fortune 500 headquarters than any other U.S. municipality within its city limits. The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. Nicknamed the “Space City”, Houston is a global city, with strengths in business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, sports, technology, education, medicine, and research.

View profile

Global Goals addressed