Light Pollution And What Architects And Lighting Designers Can Do To Prevent It?

Light Pollution And What Architects And Lighting Designers Can Do To Prevent It?

Are you sure that the decorative light you added in your courtyard or the street light on the road to your home or the illuminated sports venue you often pay a visit to are not at all contributing to light pollution? Often outdoor lighting is excessively bright, not efficiently used, improperly targeted, poorly shielded, and in several places, not necessary at all. In most cases light spills into the sky, not getting illuminated on things or places where it actually should be. Unlike other types of pollution, light pollution is less talked about and neglected by people.

In this blog, we are going to discuss,

  • What is light pollution?

  • Why is it important to tackle light pollution?

  • What can architects and lighting designers do to prevent light pollution?

And by the end, you would understand the importance and ways through which one can maximize the efficiency of artificial light at night to limit its negative social and environmental impacts.

Let's dive deeper and light up our minds!

What Is Light Pollution?

Light pollution can be referred to as the impacts of any poorly carried-out lighting that results in unwanted, improper, or unnecessary artificial lighting. It encompasses various forms like sky glow, glare, light trespass, over-illumination, and light clutter.

Why Is It Important To Tackle Light Pollution?

Effects The View Of Night Sky

Too much lighting washes out the elegant moonlight and the beautiful view of the starry night sky. Also, it disrupts astronomical research.

Effects Eye Vision

Light from inaccurately shielded outdoor lighting is unhealthy as it reduces vision-by decreasing contrast. This deters our natural ability to see things at night. Old-aged people are especially affected.

Effects Traffic

Excessive lighting and glare on the roads may impact traffic as it adversely affects the driver's sight. This can be dangerous as it increases the probability of accidents.

Energy Wastage

Inefficient lighting designs level up the use of electricity indirectly contributing to the increased usage of many fossil fuels, which further leads to resource depletion. Clearly, light pollution costs money, energy, and resources.

Effects On Other Living Beings

Other than humans, light pollution badly affects other living beings as well. For example, the nighttime croaking of frogs has an important role in their breeding ritual which constantly gets disrupted by the human-installed lights. This effect on their nocturnal activity negatively impacts reproduction and reduces their population.

Similar is the situation of sea turtles. They hatch at night on the seashore and hatch-lings locate the way back to sea by detecting the luminous horizon over the sea. But they often get drawn by artificial lights and lose their way.

Another victim of human-made light pollution is birds. Nocturnal birds are to migrate or hunt using the natural light from the moon and stars. But they get attracted to artificial light and deviate from their path, often hitting on unnecessarily illuminated buildings and towers. Also, light pollution disturbs migratory birds' properly clocked seasonal migration resulting in early or late migration.

What Can Architects And Lighting Designers Do To Prevent Light Pollution?

To rectify a problem the source of it should be addressed first. So appropriate lighting system design is pivotal to deterring light pollution. Here are some ways through which architects and lighting designers can prevent light pollution.

Use Shielded Bulbs That Direct Light Down Where It Is Required

The traditional way of installing street lights and other exterior lighting results in too much light being reflected in the sky. To eliminate this artificial lightening of the skies, lighting designers can install covered bulbs that face downwards. Shielded bulbs guarantee the same level of lighting as their counterpart, but with reduced energy consumption and expense.

Use LEDs And CFLs

LEDs and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are better alternatives to conventional incandescent bulbs. When compared to fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lights, LEDs and CFLs have low luminance but do not compromise visibility. Also, switching to these kinds of bulbs ensures less energy use.

Use Of Motion Sensors, Timers, And Dimmers.

The use of motion sensors on outdoor lights is a good choice. Because it doesn't allow keeping the lights on during the entire night. It works only when it is required. Motion sensor light gets on when it recognizes movement and it automatically switches off after a specified time when the movement comes to an end. Why should we waste money on electricity and contribute to disastrous light pollution, all for light that we do not even fully use? Act wisely!

The next preferable way to reduce light pollution is the use of automatic systems to turn on and off lights and the use of dimmers at certain times. According to studies, most of the existing outdoor lights can be dimmed by 25% or more without affecting visibility. This helps to lower the average illumination levels and helps us save energy.

Avoid Light Trespass

Light trespass is the situation when the light from one's property reaches the other's place. If overly bright light enters your home from outside, that's light trespass and sometimes it may affect you with discomfort in your eyes or even sleep deprivation. It may even obstruct a beautiful night view.

Thus, be sensitive to the neighborhood as well as the local ecosystem and ensure that lighting in the buildings or street lights does not enter anywhere else rather than where it is intended.

Replace Outdoor Lights With Low-Glare Alternatives

Pick only certified low-glare lighting appliances. Many substitute lighting is available which are sky-friendly and assure low light pollution. This also prevents the glare from reaching the neighbor's window glass.

Avoid Blue Lights At Night And Use Colored Lights

Blue-rich white light is not suitable at night as it has a high glare, and compromises vision. Also, it affects circadian sleep rhythms. Blue light scatters too much and it paves the way for worsened sky glow.

Opting lamps with color temperatures below 3000 K is a promising choice. CFL and LED light packaging show their color temperature. Lights with lower color temperatures are better as their light is anti-glare and less harsh on the eyes. Yellow, red and other similar colored lights shine softer, improve visual comfort, and are night sky friendly.

Choose IDA Approved Light Fixtures

When you are purchasing new lights, make sure that they have the International Dark Sky Association certification. IDA has some guidelines to find if a light fixture is dark sky-friendly or not. If it is, you will surely see the IDA symbol on it. These quality light fixtures could reduce glare, minimize light trespass, cut energy use, and don't pollute the night sky.

If you too want to be a part of the paradigm shift that aims at reduced light pollution, Apta Lighting Design Studio is the way to go. We are excited to see the positive effects the smart lighting choices are to bring to our planet.