Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are increasingly used in streetlights in the US and around the world due to their low power consumption, long and predictable lifetime, and low maintenance cost. Small towns and cities across the United States have already converted their streetlights to LEDs. Susan Sgorbati’s fall 2013 class read President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and worked on a project with the New England regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Sgorbati contacted North Bennington Village Trustee member David Monks who suggested the class might do a project on working with Efficiency Vermont in making recommendations to switch streetlights in North Bennington to LEDs. Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont provided information on the 108 streetlights in North Bennington.
The class analyzed the data from the two companies and the streetlights map provided by the Bennington Regional Planning Commission. Flyers were made by the Bennington College students to inform North Bennington residents about LEDs. The students also visited several residents’ homes and businesses to get their responses and created an email address where residents could ask questions or make comments. The class evaluated the recommendations coming from the different sources and prepared a Google Map displaying the recommendations for the Village Trustees. The Village Trustees voted unanimously to recommend the switch to LED lamps and said they would pass on the recommendations to Efficiency Vermont. In fall 2014, Green Mountain Power switched all of the street lamps to LEDs in North Bennington, saving the town one-third of their energy use and one-third of the cost.