“The price of power is responsibility for the public good” — Winthrop Aldrich
The advent of electricity has made an undeniable impact on the modern world. During the Industrialization Age, electrical power introduced the fastest rate of economic growth our Earth has ever witnessed. This led to exponential growth in technology, medicine and population over the past 100 years. In recent years we are now recognizing the problems that arise from unchecked growth and industrialization. Sadly, climate change is one of the most terrifying problems. Electricity may light up our world, spark technological revolutions, and power the very connections we rely on for our daily routines, but it has also played a contributing role in many of the challenges we face in modern-day history.
In the mid-1900s, electric companies were so intent on promoting energy consumption they actually used to strategically install enormous rooftop signs with lights that advertised "USE ELECTRICITY". A battery level indicator may be all the encouragement we need to use electricity nowadays, but artificial lighting is still responsible for 15% of the world's total energy consumption.
El Paso Texas, or as many call it, “Sun City”, is also hometown to Beto O'Rourke, who was seeking the nomination for Democratic President Candidate in the 2020 election. Beto also speaks a clear message about energy consumption and climate change. He is working with Congress to create a legally enforceable standard that could bring the US carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Keep an eye on the energy market, we may begin to finally see a change in how we produce, consume, and invest in energy. We might even start seeing incentives that ensure environmental and socio-economic integrity in decreasing climate change.
A group in El Paso, TX shares that same vision and decided to make a bold and sustainable statement with a six-foot-tall sign fixed atop the century-old Martin Building. The historic structure stands seven stories in height and was part of the expansion of downtown as a result of the city’s major industrial growth during the 1910s and 1920s. Known locally for being the headquarters of the old El Paso Electric Company—a large marquee on the roof advertising the infamous “USE ELECTRICITY” slogan was added when they purchased the building in 1950. It was illuminated by 150 incandescent light bulbs, which consumed a total of 15,000 watts of electricity.
“Climate change is a real threat and electricity should be consumed responsibly. Fifteen percent of the energy consumed globally is for lighting. We can easily reduce lighting energy consumption by 90% if we make the switch to LED lighting. ” — Julio Gabbert, Co-Founder of CodeLumen.
In 2017 the decision was made to remove "USE" from the marquee in a clear effort to endorse a new message “Use Electricity Responsibly”. The new sign is powered with a total of 127 individual LED color changing bulbs which consume only 9 watts of electricity. The entire sign runs on 1,142 watts. That’s about 91% in energy savings.
In addition to the energy-efficient sign, that serves as a new iconic landmark in Downtown El Paso, Lane Gaddy (owner) came up with an idea to rebrand the downtown district. The design of the energy-efficient sign was reimagined from the original marquee installed by the electric company in the '50s. It now reads “ElectriCity” and represents the new name of the two-block quarter, from San Jacinto Plaza east, to the historic Basset Tower.
A unique challenge presented itself as CodeLumen, headquartered in New York, coordinated with the client in El Paso. The entire fabrication process was made with recycled materials and executed by local El Pasoan and CEO of Vuro, Rafa Portillo. Rafa and his team performed an excellent job at installing the sign, it literally took them less than 48 hours to complete the installation.
To manage the lifecycle and reduce the carbon footprint of the project, our engineering team designed a robust software called Creates AI. The Creates platform saved time and costs while helping to manage the project between New York and El Paso. It dramatically improved efficiency and allowed us to seamlessly manage the whole project long distance.
As a result, a contemporary artwork—ElectriCity—mounted on top of the prominent Martin Building joins the next chapter of history in El Paso, sending a meaningful message of sustainability to the public: don't simply use electricity, use it responsibly.
"I Love to convene art, new technology and be socially responsible." Ricardo Fernandez - Amor Por Juárez President and Electricity Project Coordinator.
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