Pedestrians on Connecticut Avenue in Washington will be doing more than just walking. They’ll be powering outdoor street lighting through special tiles that harness the energy generated by footsteps.
The completed tile installation is just south of Dupont Circle at the Connecticut Avenue Overlook pocket park, a site chosen for its high foot traffic. The tiles will power 68 generators, providing energy for interactive light installations in the park. Step-fueled energy will also power LED lighting underneath granite seating along the Golden Triangle, the central business district encompassing K Street and Dupont Circle.
Officials behind the project, a collaboration between the clean-tech British company Pavegen and the D.C. government, say that the lights will be powered day and night to provide visibility and increase safety for pedestrians.
The tiles, created by Pavegen, use the weight of a step to fuel a rotational motion that creates energy, which can then be used to power generators. Each step produces up to 5 watts of power, meaning just one step can provide 30 seconds of power for an LED-powered street lamp.
Pavegen’s tiles grace walkways in more than 100 sites around the world, including at Heathrow Airport and Harrods department store in London. The Dupont Square installation is company’s first in the United States.
Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder and chief executive of the company, stressed the environmental implications of the technology. “Expanding into the U.S. is one of the biggest steps Pavegen has taken, engaging people all over the world with renewable energy,” he said in a news release.
The tiles are embedded with data tracking technology. The number of steps, energy produced and location of steps will all be collected and displayed on the Golden Triangle website for people to view the energy impact of their footsteps.
The installation marks one of several tech-infused initiatives adopted by Washington and other cities across the world that combine technology with infrastructure. Smart street lamps that double as WiFi centers or traffic cameras have been installed in Washington and Oslo. Smart parking meters in San Francisco use sensors to determine parking availability and set parking prices.
“From streetlights to traffic signals and now kinetic pavers, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is fully embracing sustainable technology,” DDOT Director Leif A. Dormsjo said in a news release. “The improvements at Connecticut Avenue Overlook are just the latest example of our commitment to innovative infrastructure as we strive to make the District one of the nation’s premier cities for smart technology.”