Best Retrofit: Why ESCOs Choose Amerlux’s Avista

Los Angeles, C.A. cut energy costs by 75 percent in its historic downtown area by retrofitting street lights with Amerlux Avista LED light engines.

Upgrading street lights from outdated and energy hogging lighting systems is a great way to quickly transition a city to lower energy consumption levels. Since they use only a tiny fraction of the energy required by conventional lighting, LED lights are hands down the best option for reducing power usage. Enter Amerlux’s Avista — a highly efficient LED light engine designed with easy retrofitting in mind.

Avista LEDs are simple-to-use light engines ideal for retrofitting traditional and post-top light fixtures (luminaires), as well as new construction applications. With a completely-sealed LED optical chamber, the highly-efficient Avista delivers cutting-edge optics and extraordinary output to meet the most demanding streetlighting needs. Avista’s simple-to-install design features adjustable height levels and other customizations to ensure optimal application and maximum performance.

The versatility baked into Avista’s design allows Avista to be a “skeleton key” of sorts because it can be used in a wide variety of fixtures, including those by Holophane, Hadco, King, Louis Poulsen, Lumec, Pemco, Sternberg and Visco. Most installations take 15 minutes or less.

Avista is made to accommodate some of the most challenging light fixtures (luminaires) around, including the vintage fixtures still in use in many historic areas and city centers today.

The cities of Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California, both recently found themselves stuck between trying to decrease their energy consumption and preserve the character of the cities’ historic neighborhoods.

Using Amerlux’s Avista, Portland decreased its energy consumption by 60%, while keeping its beautiful vintage luminaires in place all over the city. LA did even better, cutting energy costs by 75% in the historic downtown area.

Amerlux’s Avista LED light engines helped Portland, Oregon preserve its vintage light fixtures, while reducing energy consumption by 60 percent.

In Portland, the “acorn” fixtures were the challenge: “Our poles and ornamental castings go back as much as 100 years and are attractive, but finding LEDs to adapt to them was difficult,” said Lisa Elbert, P.E., Signals and Lighting Engineer with the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Some manufacturers wanted to sell us a complete fixture with the pole, but Portland’s castings are historic and we wanted to use them – we absolutely didn’t want to replace them.”

Amerlux customized Avista LEDs to Portland’s exact needs, allowing the city to retain its original fixtures, while also significantly reducing energy costs. The installation process was so simple that city contractors did not even need tools to affix the new lighting engines, and they were quickly installing more than 80 a night.

In Los Angeles, the 1920s-era streetlights dotting the downtown area (including the Arts District and Historic Core) were a difficulty.

“Some of our bigger post-top and glass globe fixtures throughout the city and downtown couldn’t use a standard screw-in lamp. We needed a more creative solution and this led us to Amerlux’s Avista fixtures, which are working very well,” said Norma Isahakian, assistant director for LA’s Bureau of Street Lighting. “Our total LED program is saving up to 75 percent in energy consumption, which amounts to quite a bit of cost savings annually, and is meeting all of our lighting needs.”

Besides the significant savings in energy usage, Avista LEDs also provide savings in reduced maintenance costs. Avista lights deliver 50,000 to 100,000 hours of maintenance-free operation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, maintenance savings derived from installing LED lighting equates to roughly $50 annually per fixture, delivering tremendous financial advantages over the life of the lighting engine.

With its ability to fit in almost any existing light fixture and its easy installation, Avista lighting lets cities enjoy the benefits of modern lighting and while maintaining their history.

Avista by Amerlux can be delivered in just 10 days, so your city can start seeing energy savings immediately.


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Bright Lights, Beautiful City

Amerlux’s Game-Changing Avista Light Engine Helps City of Portland

Decrease Energy Consumption 60%, While Preserving Vintage Streetlamps

Amerlux’s Avista LED light engines helped Portland, Oregon preserve its vintage light fixtures, while reducing energy consumption by 60 percent.

As the largest city in Oregon with more than three million residents in its metro area, Portland is home to breathtaking natural beauty, a wealth of microbreweries and coffeehouses, and a historic downtown marked by must-see landmarks. The city is also renowned for its thriving eco-friendly scene and focus on sustainability, so it came as no surprise when The Portland Bureau of Transportation began upgrading the city’s 52,000 streetlamps to energy-efficient LED technology in 2014. The City of Portland wanted to move forward with new energy-efficient lighting technology, but not at the expense of its vintage streetlamps, which had proved to be an obstacle in the past.

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9 Reasons Why Cities Choose Amerlux for Streetlighting

pedestrian lights

Light-emitting diode (LED) technology has created a great opportunity for city managers to dramatically reduce the energy bill for their municipalities.

But not all lighting solutions are created equally in terms of value and performance.

As a result, more cities are turning to Amerlux to help with pedestrian streetlighting. Designed to bring an ease and seamlessness to city streetlighting, Amerlux’s Avista LED fixture is a simple-to-use yet advanced LED light engine ideal for retrofitting traditional and post-top luminaires, as well as use in new construction applications.

Featuring a completely-sealed LED optical chamber, the highly-efficient Avista delivers cutting-edge optics and extraordinary output to meet the most demanding streetlighting needs within today’s cities and municipalities, while its simple-to-install design incorporating adjustable height levels allows users to position the light exactly where it’s needed for optimal application and maximum performance, taking LED streetlighting to the next level.

Two industry experts—Lisa Elbert, P.E., signals and lighting engineer with the City of Portland at Oregon’s Bureau of Transportation (which recently oversaw the upgrade of Portland’s 6,100 century-old single and twin ornamental decorative fixtures to Amerlux’s Avista LED light engine), and Jason Strano, C.E.M., energy sales manager at leading lighting agency Reflex Lighting in Wethersfield, Connecticut—discuss the many reasons why cities are wise to invest in Amerlux’s Avista fixtures for their streetlighting needs.

  1. Quality – Strano said that the difference between an Amerlux fixture and competitive products is clear. “When you hold an Avista fixture in your hand, you can see that it’s a substantial, well-made piece with strong set screw, durable materials, and great build quality,” he said. “While it’s customizable, it’s well-designed up front.”
  1. Flexibility – “Amerlux created four different styles of the Avista retrofit kit for us—all were the same basic product but incorporated different adaptor plates to mount onto our different streetlighting fixtures,” Elbert said. “The system’s adjustable height levels gave us additional flexibility as well.”
  1. Customized Options – While many manufacturers can be resistant to customization, “the Amerlux team is so open and adaptable to customer requests for changes that users don’t have to jump through hoops to make the changes they require,” Strano said. “Amerlux can do everything from meeting a specific Kelvin temperature standard to providing product in customized colors and more.” Based on her experience in Portland, Elbert agreed. “Amerlux met all of our needs, from fine-tuning the fixture design to ensure Type III street optics with the optimal amount of lighting both in front of and behind each pole to matching the exact floral design of our fixture’s filigree ring, placing bar codes in a specific spot to support our asset management requirements, and securing a manufacturer to create a specialized acrylic version of the original globe, based on detailed drawings of the vintage product,” Elbert said.
  1. Responsiveness – “Customers can always call and get Amerlux team members on the phone,” Strano said. “They’re extremely responsive, accommodating and happy to help.”
  1. Aesthetically-Pleasing – “The appearance of our Avista LEDs is amazing, and I was absolutely stunned the first time I saw the new lighting on our streets,” Elbert said. “I’d gotten used to seeing hot spots and lamps burning inside the globe with our old technology, but Amerlux’s fixture uses a top-down LED system that makes the entire globe appear to glow without seeing the lights. I love the experience and it’s soft on the eyes.”
  1. Dark Sky-Friendly – While Elbert conceded that her team in Portland had worked for years to minimize the uplight component of their streetlights with various designs, other lights always looked like they had a hood over them. “By contrast, Amerlux’s dark sky-friendly fixtures allow us to see the entire silhouette of the acorn globes, while minimizing light pollution,” she said.
  1. DLC-Listed – Amerlux’s Avista LEDs are listed by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), a renowned organization that establishes product quality specifications, facilitates thought leadership, and provides technical expertise in an effort to promote high-quality, energy-efficient lighting products in collaboration with utilities, energy efficiency program members and government entities. As a result of their efficiency, dark sky-friendly properties, and subsequent DLC listing, Avista fixtures are eligible for rebate by a host of utility companies nationwide, introducing the potential for an attractive financial incentive that can boost a project’s ROI and reduce its payback period.
  1. Ease of Installation – In addition to designing a customized compression screw plate for the fixtures in Portland to further simplify their installation, “Amerlux was willing to provide us with a tool-less installation,” Elbert said. “The mechanism they devised—thumb screws that simply lock onto the casting—was huge for us in terms of the time and money it saved our installers/maintenance crew.”
  1. Vested in Customers’ Success – “The Amerlux reps and team members we worked with were extremely responsive and great on follow-up, getting us samples, drawings, and any other information and support we requested,” Elbert said. “They were passionate about looking out for our interests and sincerely wanted to see our project be successful. Amerlux truly met all of our needs and we couldn’t possibly ask for more.”


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Pedestrian Lighting: City Managers Consider 7 Factors

pedestrian lights

Thanks to the benefits of light-emitting diode (LED) technology, more than 600 cities from New York to Los Angeles are in the process of upgrading less-efficient lighting sources.

LEDs provide a longer useful life, minimal maintenance, appealing color rendering and increasingly attractive price points. In short, LEDs can deliver decades of reliable and attractive illumination to the nation’s estimated 26-44 million streetlamps—the average of which is reportedly older than 25 years old and in need of modernization, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Municipal Solid-State Streetlighting Consortium.

However, pedestrian streetlighting upgrade projects in cities and municipalities are complex endeavors that require thoughtful consideration and careful collaboration between city managers and lighting providers to ensure the most successful outcome.

Two industry experts—Lisa Elbert, P.E., signals and lighting engineer with the City of Portland at Oregon’s Bureau of Transportation (which recently oversaw the upgrade of Portland’s 6,100 century-old single and twin ornamental decorative fixtures to Amerlux’s Avista LED light engine), and Jason Strano, C.E.M., energy sales manager at leading lighting agency Reflex Lighting in Wethersfield, Connecticut—recommend several key factors city managers should consider when upgrading the pedestrian streetlighting in municipalities.

  1. Evaluate Performance. When evaluating between different lighting options, “a fixture’s performance is critical – color temperature, brightness, etc.,” Elbert said. “In Portland, we were constantly running numbers, looking at how the lighting performed using AGI, a simulation tool used for designing lighting projects, and assessing the visual effect of that light on our streets and sidewalks, compared to our previous high pressure sodium technology.” Elbert and her team ultimately settled on LEDs with a 3000K color temperature, “which is a very comfortable and palatable color that’s gained increasing acceptance in streetlighting nationwide,” she said.
  1. Ensure Uniformity. As part of a comprehensive assessment of various fixtures, Strano confirms that the lighting needs to be uniform throughout the space and free of any hot-spotting, shadows or gaps that both detract from its aesthetics, as well as enable criminal behavior. If the skills aren’t resident in-house, “it’s important to take advantage of the services of a lighting specialist with expertise in preparing photometric layouts so that you can see exactly how your space will be lit by the fixtures, including light and dark areas,” Strano said. “You also want to ensure that you’re providing equal lighting without over-lighting the space.”
  1. Go LED. With their exceptional performance, high efficiency, long life, and affordability, Strano confirms that there’s no reason not to pursue LEDs for city streetlight upgrades. “You want to emulate a nice, natural moonlit effect when lighting city streets and LEDs are able to do that,” he said. “City managers are lucky to have so many LED options today. Though high-pressure sodium and metal halide have been around for a long time, price points for LEDs are now nearly equivalent to those older technologies, and the tremendous energy and maintenance savings that LEDs deliver over their extended lifespan makes them a no-brainer.”
  1. Pursue Rebates. Whether you’re in a part of the country with a high or low kWh utility rate, “the availability of utility rebates and incentives on specific LED fixtures can make a streetlighting upgrade project more palatable,” said Strano of the subsidies that can help to offset up-front project costs, as well as enhance its economics overall—all of which are critical factors for city managers, especially when projects are funded by taxpayer dollars. (According to the U.S. Department of Energy, streetlighting nationwide accounts for $2-3 billion in annual energy costs alone.) To get access to such utility rebates, Strano recommends opting for an LED fixture that’s listed by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), a renowned organization that establishes product quality specifications, facilitates thought leadership, and provides information, education, tools, and technical expertise in an effort to promote high-quality, energy-efficient lighting products in collaboration with utilities and energy efficiency program members and government entities. Elbert agreed, noting that a rebate which the City of Portland successfully secured on the purchase of its Avista LEDs from the local Energy Trust of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Energy positively impacted its project’s ROI and reduced the payback period.
  1. Preserve the Dark Sky. Strano recommends choosing a fixture that’s dark sky-compliant, which means it supports the global movement to help reduce the amount of light pollution emitted into the sky by outdoor lighting fixtures. As opposed to older technologies like high-pressure sodium that often distributed light upwards, disturbing the night sky along with local residents and wildlife, “LEDs allow us to put light and energy exactly where it needs to be,” he said. “They enable us to better control the distribution and color temperature of light so that we’re not just throwing light out there and creating all of that light pollution.”
  1. Consider the Impact of Trees. “We love trees and they’re a major part of our streetscape here, but they can also block light,” said Elbert of the leafy, tree-lined streets of Portland. “If obstacles like trees are in the way, you won’t get the performance you need out of your lighting. We’re constantly battling this issue and there’s no easy answer, but we came to the realization that trees can often wreak havoc on lighting systems.” As a result, Elbert recommends that a plan for managing trees should be part of a city’s overall streetlighting strategy. “Developers who reconstruct property frontages need to space trees properly, and we also look carefully at different tree species and do our best to prune our trees so that they rise above the lighting, as a tree canopy over the top of the lighting can add ambiance,” she said.
  1. Go with a Trusted Manufacturer. Strano recommends that city managers avoid making lighting decisions based solely on first cost. “There are a lot of less-expensive fixtures out there made by less-experienced manufacturers, but for cities, towns, and institutions that plan to be there for the long haul, it’s important to make a good investment that will last and go with a manufacturer who’s vested in the industry and will stand by their product,” he said.


For more information on Amerlux’s Avista LED Light engine, visit


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How Lighting Designers Determine the Best Step Lights

A step in the right direction, Amerlux’s Passo LED step lights safely and stylishly illuminate stairs.

When it comes to selecting the optimal step light for a commercial or residential project, a number of considerations prevail. Designed to illuminate the way forward or highlight an object in the path, identification of the appropriate step or directional lighting solution isn’t only critical for helping to prevent slips, falls, and subsequent injuries, but it can also help enhance a property’s aesthetic and architectural appeal.

Quentin Thomas, president of Douglaston, New York-based Quentin Thomas Associates, Inc. has amassed a wealth of experience in the art and science of step lighting. A seasoned lighting designer with more than 30 years in the field, he and his team have recommended lighting to clients in all segments—from hospitals, government facilities, hospitality outlets to museums—with a specialization in Class A office buildings and corporate headquarters throughout the world.

“These are typically extremely large, multi-building, multi-phase projects that extend over many years and involve multiple architects, landscape architects, and engineers,” Thomas explained. Along with expertise in the market’s range of lighting products and their applications, “we understand the scale and time frames of all of these types of projects and owners and developers respect our ability to recommend the appropriate lighting solutions and bridge all of the different players.”

Thomas shares some of the most important considerations for lighting designers to keep in mind when selecting a step or directional light for the application:

  • Is the Facility Pursuing LEED Certification? Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as LEED, is a globally-recognized symbol of sustainability achievement administered through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and provides a framework for the creation of healthy, highly-efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. A popular objective for an increasing number of buildings today, “LEED certification has become such an important component for marketing and goodwill purposes and an estimated 80 percent of our current projects are either LEED-certified or are pursuing LEED certification,” said Thomas, who added the pursuit of LEED certification can greatly influence the type of step or directional light selected. Interestingly, said Thomas, “the credit available for solutions meeting the LEED-Night Sky criteria is positive in the sense that it aims to reduce light pollution traveling up into the night sky but, at this time in its evolution, the credit is extremely restrictive and difficult to meet. For example, luminous tubes, globes with opal glass faces, and decorative lights with a glow will all be completely disallowed, so it might be easier for lighting designers not to go for that credit and to try to make up the credit elsewhere instead,” he advised.
  • Let it Glow. “If the facility isn’t necessarily pursuing LEED certification, a step light can be mounted in a vertical surface, can have a luminous face, and can be partially frosted or clear as long as it directs light downward to the walking surface,” Thomas said. “As long as you pick the appropriate fixture for the application, it can have a glowing or sparkling characteristic.”
  • Opt for LEDs. Thomas confirms that during the last few years, LED technology has evolved tremendously. With their high efficiency, sophisticated optical systems, and attractive price points, LEDs have become a go-to product for everything from downlighting to linear area lighting.
  • Consider Bollards. In exterior applications, some step lights can be recessed into walls or can be integrated into mini bollards, “which are very useful ways of delivering light and defining boundaries,” Thomas advised. While taller bollards can sometimes negatively impact an architect’s aesthetic vision, Thomas has found that architects and landscape designers are generally less resistant to shorter bollards—typically 30 inches in height—because they promote a sense of safety while being less intrusive. “In general,” Thomas noted, “designers should determine whether the facility’s step and directional lighting needs to be architecturally “neutral” or not. Some of the most successful manufacturer designs in the industry are the ones that are the most neutral and unobtrusive.”
  • Consider Walkover and Continuous Step Lights. Thomas advises lighting designers to consider round, square, or rectangular walkover step lights, which are recessed flush into the surface. “These are like runway lights that define the edge of the path, and asymmetrical versions are also available to light signs or architectural objects,” he said. Step lights that aren’t individual but continuous— similar to a cove light at the ground level—have the desirable effect of making the objects they highlight seem to float. “You can use these outside on low benches set in a niche around the bench or following a wall at the floor level to accent objects, deliver light, and identify the path,” Thomas said.
  • Be Aware of Code and Insurance Requirements. Code requirements dictate minimum light levels for building egresses and changes in grade such as stairs; “in that application, LED step lights integrated into a handrail are a fantastic solution,” Thomas said. “Lighting designers should also consider what their client’s insurance company requires in terms of how lighting is used to illuminate different parts of the interior and exterior of a facility at different times of day and night.”
  • Consider Practical Elements. Finally, Thomas recommends that lighting designers understand the conditions that the lights will reside in – from extreme temperatures/climates to the presence of flood zones, salt in the air, and other elements that could cause lights to degrade or fail.

A Step in the Right Direction

Delivering the benefits of energy efficiency, long life/low maintenance, consistency, reliability/durability, environmental friendliness, and discreetness relative to their more conventional halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, and HID counterparts, LED technology has revolutionized the step lighting category. And Amerlux’s Passo LED Step Lights take lighting and landscape design to the next level, providing landscape architects, lighting designers, and facility managers with an aesthetic detail that not only enhances indoor and outdoor safety and security but adds a touch of beauty as well.

Available in louver, stainless steel louver, and tempered soft glow lens versions and round, square, and rectangular shapes for new construction projects and in 8-inch and 12-inch rectangular shapes for retrofit projects, Passo LED Step Lights are designed for flexibility, while their independently-sealed LED Optical Chamber (encompassing an LED array and heatsink enclosed in an IP66-rated sealed glass tube) eliminates water infiltration, the #1 cause of product failure, and ensures that they’re engineered for reliability.

Easy to install, Passo models designed for new construction projects feature an injection-molded PVC housing with integral machined brass anchor blocks that complement the sealed properties of the LED module and driver, ensuring added protection against corrosive environments.  Further incorporating a standard 0-10V dimmable driver for greater integration with today’s most popular controls, Amerlux’s family of Passo LED Step Lights represent a step in the right direction for lighting designers!

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