Startup Profile: Civil Twilight


Who: Civil Twilight is bootstrapped by three architects. They were awarded $10,000 from the 2007 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition.

What: Civil Twilight is a collective of three professional architects who have teamed up to develop energy-efficient technologies in their spare time. The technology that has received the most attention makes street lamps more energy-efficient by dimming the lights according to the brightness of the moon.

Other companies offering ways to make street lighting more efficient include San Jose, Calif.-based Echelon Corp. (ELON). It sells a system for outdoor lighting that can reduce energy usage by dimming street lamps according to time of day and current weather conditions. Solar Illuminations sells solar-powered street lights that charge batteries using solar technology during the day to power the lamps at night.

Where: The company is based in Oakland, Calif. They’ve developed a prototype of their dimmable street-lighting system, but it’s not available for purchase yet.

When: Civil Twilight was founded in January 2007

Why: The company offers design plans to retrofit existing street lamps so they’re more efficient, as well as plans for new lamps that use LED lights and are even more energy efficient. They’re hoping to partner with existing manufacturers, and to sell their designs to municipal governments.

Energy bills for street lighting cost local governments a pretty penny, so it makes sense for a startup to seek out ways to make this niche lighting market more energy efficient. Civil’s technology is “cool and it saves energy,” Anton Willis, Civil’s unofficial CEO, told us. We can’t disagree with that. But we’re not sure “cool” equates to a company with a viable business plan either.



That’s a really good idea about the street lights — I’m surprised it hasn’t been done yet.

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