Westmont, Illinois – Date Issued: April 11, 2023
At a recent board meeting, the Village approved a lighting project on Pasquinelli Drive that will utilize Dark Sky lighting strategies through fixtures complying with the color temperature and shielding recommendations of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). This effort is considered a pilot project for more Dark Sky initiatives in the future.
“Our Environmental Improvement Committee has recommended that we try to encourage and use Dark Sky lighting strategies and fixtures within the Village, especially for new or updated public projects,” said Village Trustee Bruce Barker, who is also the Environmental Improvement Committee (EIC) Chair. “This project on Pasquinelli Drive will help us move towards our eventual goal of embracing this philosophy and possibly becoming a Dark Sky Community.”
WHY DARK SKY
Dark Sky initiatives are based on the understanding that all life on Earth has evolved over billions of years relying on a circadian rhythm, a daily cycle of light and dark to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night can have a negative effect on the world’s ecosystems. However, there are a variety of additional reasons to embrace a Dark Sky initiative.
One of the easiest to understand benefits of a Dark Sky initiative is aesthetics. Simply put, light pollution prevents people from seeing the natural beauty of our nighttime skies. Dark Sky embraces that idea that people have a right to enjoy the stars in the nighttime sky.
Outdoor lighting is intended to enhance safety and security at night, but too much lighting may actually have the opposite effect. Visibility should always be the goal. Glare from bright, unshielded lights may reduce overall visibility and restrict our ability to see an entire area clearly.
It is estimated that 30% of all nighttime lighting is wasted in the form of having lights that are too bright or overlighting areas unnecessarily by not having proper shielding. This results in citizens wasting billions of dollars while creating millions of tons of unnecessary carbon dioxide to power this extra light output.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are three main factors that citizens can address to improve night time lighting aesthetics, environmental impact, safety, and costs - BRIGHTNESS, SHIELDING & COLOR TEMPERATURE.
Because LED lights use less energy than incandescent and fluorescent lights, lighting selections are often made that produce a brightness well beyond what is needed. Bright lights do not necessarily translate into improved safety and may cause glare, making it difficult to see the area intended to be lit. It is recommended that bulbs be selected with a wattage not more than 60W. 40W is preferred (LED equivalent wattage of 5W – 9W).
Dark Sky-compliant fixtures include shielding that focuses light in a downward direction and prevents light from being emitted in an upward direction, or out toward neighboring properties. Shielding also allows for the opportunity to light only intended areas rather than spreading light beyond the intended area.
Many LED lights shine at a color temperature that negatively affects humans, animals, and pollinators. Blue light (often marked as daylight or cool white) affects our circadian rhythm and can be damaging to the human eye. It is recommended that lights that produce a color temperature of 3000K or less (typically marked as soft-white or warm-white) are ideal for producing the desired effect of providing light while not over-illuminating a specific area.
ADDITIONAL DARK SKY STRATEGIES
Additionally, technologies such as motion sensors, dimmers, and timers allow for outdoor lights to only be used when needed, saving money, benefiting our environment, and preserving citizens’ view of the night sky.
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is committed to the idea that a night sky, filled with stars, should be celebrated and protected. IDA strives to accomplish this by providing leadership, tools, and resources for individuals, policymakers, and industry. IDA strives to reduce light pollution and promote responsible outdoor lighting that is beautiful, healthy, and functional. For more information, visit the IDA website at darksky.org.