A new study out this month from the Mayors Climate Protection Center, prepared for the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) that met in Washington, D.C., last week, found that 54% of cities that responded to the survey are targeting outdoor lighting for improved energy efficiency or reduced energy consumption. The study, prepared in cooperation with Philips, covered 288 cities throughout the United States. It found strong interest in street lighting and outdoor lighting and an opportunity to educate the public on the role LED lighting can play in improving energy efficiency in city-owned and operated buildings.

About two-thirds of cities plan to increase their deployment of new energy technologies beyond current commitments over the next five years. A large majority (86%) said retrofitting city-owned buildings is now a priority for their cities, yet only 36% have developed a comprehensive energy plan.

LED/energy efficient lighting was overwhelmingly rated as the “most promising” technology for reducing city energy use and carbon emissions, with more than four in five cities of those surveyed (82 percent) reporting.

“This survey shows again how mayors are leaders in energy innovation, deploying new technologies, pursuing new efficiency systems, reducing their communities’ energy use and lowering costs for their taxpayers. Their best practices as well as the findings of this survey confirm that investing dollars in city energy efforts is a very good investment for the private sector and the nation,” said Scott Smith, USCM president and mayor of Mesa, Ariz.

Looking at the challenges facing cities that seek to capture the benefits of improving energy efficiency, the most significant challenges are budget and funding constraints (cited by 84% of respondents), followed by high up-front costs (cited by 71%). Another 29% said that it is hard to justify upgrades because their current infrastructure is still working.

The full survey report, "Energy Efficiency and Technology in America's Cities" (PDF format) can be found at usmayors.org/2014energysurvey.