Producing electricity with pedestrian traffic

Producing electricity with pedestrian traffic

People walking on sidewalks in downtown Washington, D.C., are generating electricity to power nearby LED streetlights.

Described as a “smart-flooring solution,” the Pavegen pavers produces off-grid electricity when people step on them. The kinetic energy generated by the slight vertical movement of the flexible tiles is converted to electricity, and built-in wireless application programming interfaces transmit real-time movement data analytics.

The system should be able to power six spot lights and accent lighting on 10 benches for about six hours, according to Rick Kenney, a project manager at the District’s Department of Transportation. This estimate is based on 1,000 people walking over the pavers during rush hour and 10,000 people walking over it every day.

DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo said that this project reflects the organization's dedication to green smart city technology like smart streetlights and traffic signals.

"The improvements at Connecticut Ave. Overlook are just the latest examples of our commitment to innovative infrastructure as we strive to make the District one of the nation's premier cities for smart technology,” he said. The city announced a number of new smart city projects earlier this year as part of its PA2040 initiative.

Pavegen is based in London and has completed more than 100 installations in train stations, shopping centers, airports and public spaces across the globe.

The pilot project was funded by a $200,000 D.C. Office of Planning Sustainable DC Innovation Challenge grant.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.

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Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 30, 2016 Mark Goldfain

When I first read this headline, I thought "how cool and clever". However, after a bit of reflection, I'm wondering if it is really possible that this is a green solution. I'd love to see a complete cost analysis, because intuitively, it seems that manufacture and maintenance of the components of this system could easily outstrip the gains it produces.

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