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Small Business Innovation Research: Flexible, Sustainable and Cost Efficient Sport Venue Lighting

In July 2016, this challenge—nominated by the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing—was released to market within the pilot round of the SBIR. Applications to pilot round challenges have now closed. To receive information about the successful solutions, as well as future rounds, subscribe to the Advance Queensland eNewsletter.

Challenge statement: Flexible, Sustainable and Cost Efficient Sport Venue Lighting

The challenge is to identify flexible, sustainable and cost efficient next generation lighting solutions for community field-based sports venues and provide guidance of the circumstances in which it is most appropriate to use these solutions.

The Queensland Government, Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing has a key priority to support and encourage active participation in physical activity by the people of Queensland, and a related responsibility of activating places and spaces for sport and recreation.

Outdoor sport is, in general, limited to daylight hours or to sporting venues with appropriate lighting enabling safe play after sunset. Conversely, participation in most organised sport at the grassroots community level involves activity after hours, given the demands of work and school for participants and community clubs being largely managed by volunteers.

Owing to its location across subtropical and tropical latitudes, Queensland has the advantage of an excellent year-round sporting climate, but also faces the disadvantage of early sunset times compared to most other Australian states. Even in winter, Melbourne experiences sunsets later than Queensland and in summer the longest day here is an entire hour shorter than the daylight hours experienced in Melbourne.

Appropriate, effective lighting is required to activate places and spaces for after-hours sport and recreation and to ensure the safety of players and the community. Effective lighting enables extended utilisation of sporting venues and public spaces to meet increased demand, and assists sporting clubs to expand their capacity and engage more of the community in sporting activities. Increased activation of sporting venues outside of daylight hours opens the possibility to address projected population and sporting participation growth, and to attract more Queenslanders to take part in sport and recreation at times that suit them, establishing and continuing to grow our culture of sport and active lifestyles.

Only 54% of Queenslanders above the age of 15 participate in some form of organised sport or physical recreation. This is 19% lower than the Australian Capital Territory and 13% lower than Tasmania. One way to encourage participation in sport and physical recreation is to make it easier for people to fit it into their busy lifestyles by offering more options around playing times.

There are thousands of sporting venues and public spaces across Queensland, many of which do not include lighting to enable night-time use. Many of these spaces are also multi-use, and flexibility is required to suit different sports groups sharing venues at different times. Large field based sports (such as cricket, Australian Football League (AFL), rugby league, rugby union, football and hockey) in particular face these issues.

New technology in lighting provides opportunity for new benefit realisation. While traditional, generated energy costs have increased significantly in recent years, prices for renewable energy options and storage costs are falling.

The Department seeks next generation lighting solutions for large field-based sports that are flexible, sustainable, and offer cost advantages over traditional sporting venue lighting systems.

The Department also seeks an improved understanding of the circumstances in which next generation lighting solutions should be supported for community sporting venues.

Why should it be solved?

To ensure Queensland remains a healthy, active and competitive sporting state, people need the flexible options to engage in sport and other physical activity at convenient times. Participating in regular physical activity and organised group sport, at any age promotes well-being and engagement in the community. Current trends show that people are working longer hours, exercising less and eating more.

By extension, improving participation in sports by removing barriers to participation such as insufficient lighting can help reduce the likely impact of long term chronic health issues linked to inactivity.

It’s also important for the sustainability of grassroots community organisations and their opportunities for growth. For these groups to remain relevant into the future, they need to be equipped with the tools to adjust to the community’s changing needs.

In Australia there are thousands of opportunities for flexible, sustainable and efficient lighting installations for both sporting venues and public spaces, with many controlled by local governments.

Challenge context

Who is the customer?

The Queensland Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing.

Other key stakeholders include local governments, the Commonwealth Government, sporting clubs, sporting organisations, and other peak bodies such as Queensland Cricket and AFL Queensland.

How is the challenge currently being solved?

Currently clubs and public spaces manage their lighting needs differently. Many simply schedule games during daylight hours with the venue less utilised during the evening unless lighting is available.

Metal Halide Lamps are the commonly used and historical solution for lighting on sports venues. Installation of lighting requires significant initial capital expense and ongoing costs of ownership - operation and maintenance - can also be significant costs for small community sporting groups. However, as the maintenance expense is often high and clubs are volunteer-based organisations (generally), it is not uncommon for maintenance to be performed irregularly.

Funding support for installation of lighting is available to sporting groups subject to eligibility. Often lighting projects are collaborations between a sporting group, local government (as the lease owner of lands), state government and sporting bodies, with each contributing funding. However ongoing ownership costs are the responsibility of sporting clubs that are funded by members - costs are often significant percentage of a club’s operating budget.

Additionally, the state government (as key funding contributor) and sporting organisations (as activity providers) need to be better placed to understand when it is appropriate to provide support for the installation of lighting, and new generation lighting solutions in particular.

Benefits sought

A proposed solution should aim to activate places for sport outside of daylight hours, which should ideally lead to the following benefits:

  1. Attract more Australians to participate in sport at times that suit them, establishing and continuing the culture of sport and active lifestyles.
  2. Reduce the likely impact of long term chronic health issues linked to inactivity.
  3. Ensure the safety of players and the community when participating in sport outside of daylight hours.
  4. Support grassroots community organisations and provide opportunities for their growth. Equipped with the tools to adjust to the community’s changing needs, organisations can remain relevant into the future and enhance their ability to operate sustainably into the future.

Constraints identified

  1. Capital cost of supply and installation.
  2. Ownership costs, including operation and ongoing maintenance.
  3. Flexibility of operation and sustainability for sporting requirements.
  4. Guidelines for lighting (examples available from Cricket Australia, AFL, National Rugby League (PDF, 1.48MB)).
  5. Demonstrated affordability and cost benefits compared to existing lighting options
Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Last updated
8 March, 2017

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