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Eco-Powered Lighting Tackles New York's Shortage of Ball Fields

A proposal by NYC architect Andrew Burdick would increase usable hours for the city's athletic fields at a fraction of the cost of building new fields.

Eco-Powered Lighting Tackles New York's Shortage of Ball Fields

New York City has a lot of kids and precious few places where they can play outdoors and actually be kids (unless they're in private school!). New York architect Andrew Burdick's solution: Instead of building new fields, which would sap major time and money, extend the number of hours existing ones can be used.

To do that, Burdick, a finalist in the Philips Livable Cities Awards and a staffer at Ennead Architects (formerly Polshek Partnership), proposes throwing up "smart-grid" solar- and wind-powered LED lights that'd allow kids and recreational sports teams to play in a safely lit space well into the night. Whether children would in fact use the fields after dark — or more to the point, whether their overbearing New York parents would let them — is up for debate.

In any case, nighttime illumination is what all playing field lights are supposed to do, right? The difference here: Most field lights are huge purse and energy drains, so cities have little incentive to switch them on past dusk. Burdick's antenna-like fixtures include wind turbines and solar arrays that would feed energy to the grid during the day. At night, the fixtures would draw power directly from the grid, but because they're LEDs, they'd suck less juice than your average field light (often metal halide). All told, Burdick reckons that the lights would generate more power than they consume, resulting in a net gain for the city.

Mind you, they'd still require a hefty outlay. The lights would run $16,000 to $25,000 a pop. Multiply that by the eight to 10 needed for a single soccer field, and you're talking about $128,000 to $250,000 — not including installation and maintenance costs. Of course, that's cheaper than building a new field. And if you want to go really deep here, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than the cost to society of caring for people who weigh 500 pounds 'cause they never got to run around as kids. How about it Bloomy?