Efrat, the largest town in the Gush Etzion region, south of Jerusalem, announced this week that it was taking yet another step in turning itself into the “greenest” town in Israel. After months of planning, the town will be removing its high-pressure sodium streetlights (common in cities around the world), and replacing them LED streetlights. The new lights will be able to emit the same amount of light (luminescence), but require up to 60% less energy to do so.
The LED system will be completely computer operated, enabling the city to save even more money, said Yehuda Schwigger, the CEO of the Efrat Local Authority. “We should be able to save at least 50% of our current energy costs for streetlights, as well as immediately fix problems remotely on the network we are setting up,” he told Arutz Sheva in an interview.
The streetlight project is just one of a number Efrat has undertaken to preserve resources, as well as save money.
“As a 'green' environmentally conscious city, Efrat is saving its residents millions of shekels a year,” said Schwigger. The project is simply a continuation of the city's long-standing efforts to cut its energy use and “environmental footprint,” he said.
Several years ago, the city installed “smart” electricity systems in its schools and playgrounds. Indoor lights in schools (which of course use energy-efficient bulbs) have been timed to go out as soon as students and teachers clear out of a classroom, so there is no waste from electricity usage when someone forgets to turn the lights out. This alone, said Schwigger, has saved the city a large sum of money.
Outdoors, the city has installed an ingenious energy-saving system at playgrounds and sports fields. Once an hour, an alarm goes off at the playground; if anyone is there, they are supposed to press a button that keeps the lights on. If the button is not pushed, the lights go out, again saving electricity on lights that do not serve any purpose. In addition, the city turns off every third streetlight after 11 PM, since there are fewer people outside.
Besides energy, the city has done its share to save water, and to lower its waste levels. Residents are in the process of installing smart water meters, which will help save as much as 20% of the city's water usage by efficiently detecting water leaks and excess use.
In addition, said Schwigger, the city has in recent years succeeded in reducing the amount of waste generated by residents to half the national average.
“This means that the average Efrat family throws out about half as much trash as families in the rest of Israel.” The city accomplished this, he said, by installing 500 compost machines that allows residents to turn their organic trash into compost, which is used by the city to beautify gardens, and can be sold as well, in order to bring even more money into city coffers.
“All of these efforts, and the ones we are still planning to enact, are the result of hard work by city officials,” said Efrat Local Authority head Oded Revivi. “We have turned Efrat into one of the 'greenest' cities in Israel, saving millions of shekels in the process.”