It's no secret that energy efficiency is a hot topic in California, given this year's spate of rolling blackouts. One response to the crisis could be found in Berkeley, CA, where, as part of a national energy conservation initiative, businesses and residences on Telegraph Avenue between Channing and Durant Streets were relamped with energy-efficient Philips lightbulbs. The retrofit was intended as a blueprint for the rest of the country, to emphasize the ease with which energy-efficient practices can be implemented.

“A big part of what you're seeing today comes from installing compact fluorescent lightbulbs, which are a fantastic but surprisingly little-known solution for the home and office,” said Larry Wilton, president and CEO of Philips Lighting Company North America, when the retrofit findings were unveiled on June 26.

The findings were striking. According to Francis Rubinstein, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “Before the retrofit, the lighting systems in these 12 buildings and one apartment complex were about 45kW. Afterwards, that power demand will drop to about 25kW which is roughly 45%. If similar practices were instituted throughout the country, 38 power plants would not have to be built.” Business owners on the block also expressed happiness with the project. “They told us we could expect about 30-44% in savings over the next year,” said Elizabeth McDonald, owner of Mars Mercantile. “That's about $200 a month.”

In related news, Philips has introduced the Energy Crisis Hotline, designed to provide solutions for consumers and businesses on the substantial difference that can be made by energy-efficient lighting products. Consumers and businesses can call 800-945-9071 to request an energy crisis package, including information about energy-efficient lighting products. The company also recently provided 750,000 compact fluorescent lightbulbs to the state of California as part of Governor Gray Davis' PowerWalk Program, which provides free compact fluorescent lamps to low-income households. The program was administered by the California Conservation Corps.