Looking up in the sky on a clear night, you might be lucky enough to see hundreds if not thousands of stars, planets, nebula, and galaxies. Unfortunately if you live in a city or neighborhood, the only thing you might be able to see are a couple bright stars surrounded by a yellow haze. The haze seen at night is known as light pollution, where the light emitted by outdoor landscape lighting Houston is reflected off particles in the atmosphere. Not only does light pollution prevent a clear view of the night sky, it is incredibly wasteful in terms of energy. Instead of lights being used to illuminate streets and walkways, the lighting ends up in the sky where it is not needed. Recently, the Lightfair International Conference was held to address best practices in regards to outdoor Dark sky lighting solutions that eliminate light pollution.
A major topic brought up at the conference was a new Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) that is being recommended that aims to minimize light pollution and help save energy. The MLO was designed to apply to nighttime lighting features such as landscape, signs, and monument lighting on private property. The MLO features a series of five zones rated LZ-0 which represents 0.5 lumens per square foot of landscape up through LZ-4 which represents 7.5 lumens per square foot of landscape. City planners will ultimately decide on appropriate light zoning for communities and how to enforce it. Several cities are already set to adopt the MLO including Plymouth, MN and Anchorage, AK. If the MLO gains widespread support, all property owners could be required to install Dark Sky friendly lighting.
Another idea that came out of the conference was that in general, less illumination at night is better. Excess light in the eye causes the pupil to close, and less light ends up in the back of your eye. This can produce glare, and could lead to safety issues due to reduced visibility. One way to cut down on excess light is to replace older non efficient lighting fixtures with Dark Sky fixtures that focus the light downwards where it is needed and away from the sky.
Ultimately, not only can Dark Sky lighting lead to a clear night sky, it can also bring major savings to property owners in the form of energy costs. By focusing all the energy produced by a light down to where it is needed, a Dark Sky light fixture can produce as much illumination as a conventional light fixture, but can do so with less energy. This makes Dark Sky lighting a more Eco-friendly option, especially if it is coupled with solar energy systems which can drive down the cost of outdoor lighting even more.