We all need light for safety, security and convenience. All of these uses can be achieved more effectively and cheaply if we avoid and reduce light pollution.
What is Light Pollution?
Light pollution is light that shines where it is not needed or wanted. It has several forms: glare, light trespass, over-lighting, and uplight. Light pollution causes energy waste and sky glow. Light pollution is easily recognized as: light that shines onto your property or into your home; glary light from poorly aimed fixtures or that is too bright for its surroundings; and light that shines up into the sky.
Responsible Lighting is healthy lighting. Use only the right amount of light, shining where it is needed, without negatively impacting visibility or others' safety and enjoyment.
Top 5 Light Pollution Misconceptions
Light at night prevents crime.
More light improves visibility.
You can get good illumination by "throwing" light from HERE to OVER THERE
Light pollution is not really pollution because it goes away if you turn off the lights.
Light pollution is only a problem for astronomers.
The Golden Rules of Good Lighting
Use fully shielded fixtures and aim lights downward to keep your light on your own property. This will solve most light trespass and glare problems and it will reduce sky glow.
Turn lights off when not needed (like your parents taught you!). Most exterior building lights, area lights, and illuminated signs can be turned off overnight when very few people are out. This will not affect security and it will save energy.
Use the right amount of light. Too much light actually reduces your ability to see by making adjacent areas appear dimmer. This can be hazardous. Good lighting uses carefully-aimed, shielded, low intensity lighting to create more uniform illumination. This provides for better illumination that enhances visibility and reduces energy consumption.
The 3 E's of Responsible Nighttime Lighting: Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency
Choose the most efficient bulb type that meets the goals of your application. Sometimes an inefficient incandescent bulb is the best choice if you want relatively low illumination levels and rapid "on" capability as in a residential motion sensor fixture. Don't choose an efficient lamp if it won't properly do the job.
An efficient bulb is no good if the fixture it is used in allows light to be sprayed everywhere. Full cutoff fixture designs mean that the light is directed where it is needed and none is wasted by creating glare.
Think how the light is to be used. All-night security lights have been shown to have minimal effect on crime levels so motion sensor fixtures are a more appropriate choice. Choose the appropriate light output - remember, sometimes less is more; don't overlight, it can create bigger problems than it solves. Creating bright "pools" of light with strong contrasts to unlit areas allows hazards in the shadows to remain undetected. Sometimes the best solution is to use no light at all.
Want to Learn More?
Much more information is available at:
RASC Calgary Light Pollution Abatement
Or download this brochure:
Responsible Lighting Brochure
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