Dark sky compliance has been trending a lot lately. Thanks to the efforts of the dark-sky movement attempting to ‘reclaim the sky.’
But what is dark sky compliance and the dark-sky movement?
Both seek the same goal. To eradicate and cut the amount of light pollution in our modern society.
Poorly-designed lighting fixtures are primarily responsible for light pollution. Here at LED Lighting Supply, we believe in the importance of reducing light pollution. With well-designed LED lights to help reverse the effects of light pollution.
Here’s our guide ensuring that modern outdoor lighting is dark sky compliant.
What is dark sky compliance?
Dark sky compliance is when any outdoor lighting fixture passes the International Dark-Sky Association (ID) Fixture Seal of Approval program.
The IDA is the voice for light pollution. By educating manufacturers, designers, local governments and the public about minimizing light pollution. The IDA believes the way to protect the natural night environment is to manage outdoor lighting.
Why is dark sky compliance important?
The purpose of dark sky compliance is to limit the amount of blue light at night.
What’s so bad about blue light?
Our circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles. It help our bodies know when to carry out essential functions. Light is the most critical factor in aligning our circadian rhythms. Humans and animals aligned these rhythms with sunrise and sunset.
We’re exposed to more artificial light through electronics. They disrupt our circadian rhythms before we head to sleep. All types of light can affect your circadian rhythm. It is the blue light that has the most considerable impact.
As humans, we receive most blue light exposure from the sun. Blue light activates and stimulates parts of our brain that make us feel alert. This increases our heart rate and body temperatures. This improves our attention span and productive performance.
This should also aid us by tiring us out and helping us to get a good night’s sleep after the sun goes down. But if we are still using blue light at night this will disrupt our need for rest and recovery. This is because blue light blocks the melatonin hormone that makes you sleepy.
High levels of blue light impact sleep quality. This is due to our insatiable demand for more device screen time. This limits our outdoor lighting fixtures. And thus reducing blue light is a perfect solution.
We’ve seen that these lights affect wildlife reproduction and behavior.
For example, the purpose of a street light is to light the ground beneath the light. Yet, it’s considered light trespass when a street light ‘trespasses’ into a neighbors yard. The light is shining where it does not need to be and is spreading unnecessary light rays.
Artificial lighting, whether blue or not, disrupts the natural ecosystem of local wildlife. Animals are un-certain when daylight begins and ends. For small animals, their at risk by larger predators can be damaging to their species.
Increased light pollution will also make it more impossible to see the stars at night. You may be asking, why should all this even matter?
What are the benefits of Dark Sky Compliance?
Dark Sky Compliance contains more benefits than you might think.
Dark-sky lighting still gives us light. But safer while reducing the area and distance where light travels.
For instance, it decreases dangerous disability glare for drivers and pedestrians. White light from headlights often blinds oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
Too much light (especially bright, white light) can make it harder to see and make us feel less safe. Because it creates dark shadows where others can hide while you are ‘exposed’ in the light.
Darkness at night time is vital to Earth’s ecosystem. Bright, artificial lighting disrupts plants and animals. They depend on natural light rising in the morning and setting at night.
Particularly for nocturnal animals, this can have a devastating impact. They rely on the night to survive against larger predators that occupy the daylight.
Dark-sky lighting (especially those with an amber or orange glow) will go far to help protect our precious wildlife.
Blue light at night (from white LEDs, laptops, smartphones) can harm our health by disrupting our circadian rhythms. And thus contribute to health conditions. These include insomnia, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and even heart disease.
For good health, we need sunshine and vitamin D. Still, we also need exposure to darkness. Darkness at night aids in supporting our circadian rhythm. It regulates our sleep cycles so we can repair our bodies from the rigors of daily living.
Dark-sky lighting not only protects the planet’s wildlife but the planet itself. The United States wastes about 30% of all outdoor lighting, and $3.3 billion a year’s spent on this wasted light. By only using the amount of light necessary, all the planet’s inhabitants can reduce energy consumption.
Rest and Recovery
Nighttime is rest time. Amber or warmer dark-sky lighting uses colors that resemble sunsets and candlelight. Rather than white and blue colors that occur on our screens and TV standby lights.
Not only do blue and light colors delay us in getting to sleep, but they may also even wake us up during our sleep! Hence, an amber light will aid you in not only feeling more sleepy but will rarely wake you up during your valuable rest periods.
Have you ever looked up at the sky during nighttime and searched for the stars yet only see bleary light instead? If so, what you are witnessing is light pollution.
What you will notice most about light pollution is that it makes the stars disappear. Researchers estimate that by 2025 only a few dark-sky places will remain in the United States. As more of the buildings around us illuminate the skies, the stars become dimmer in the night sky. Almost becoming dark themselves.
Five practical tips to becoming Dark Sky Compliant
The dark-sky movement wants to make the night sky more visible. They want to help cut down on the amount of energy used, and reduce unnatural light’s impact on the environment.
Here are our five practical tips for ensuring outdoor lighting is dark sky compliant.
1. Use LEDs
Most of us are familiar with fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs for indoor lighting. However, most of us believe that the lighting fixtures should be more industrial light sources for outdoor lighting.
Outdoor lighting has come a long way. LEDs are an excellent option for when white light’s needed. Because they’re energy-efficient, cutting down energy waste. Dimmable LEDs can reduce light levels and thus are a perfect option for outdoor use.
Because of their reported long life and energy efficiency, LEDs are becoming widespread. Replacing the existing lighting in many cities.
2. The correct color matters
Blue light is harmful to nature and the wildlife in it and humans. While LEDs are great energy-efficient lights. They contain a more significant amount of blue light.
You should select a color temperature of no more than 3000K if you seek the ‘warm’ glow or an amber-looking light. That is lower in color temperature and looks and ‘feels’ like a low-spectrum LED.
3. Always cut light waste
Reduce light waste by only lighting the areas that you need to. Reducing light waste means turning your lights on only when required. Or setting them onto a timer or sensor to help decrease the amount of light waste.
The Department of Energy also proves that businesses can calculate energy savings to minimize light waste. You reduce the amount of light that impacts you and wildlife. You can also make significant savings on commercial transactions, too.
4. Install lights and light fixtures that use shields
Always choose shielded modern outdoor lighting fixtures, so the light points downward. Thus, this minimizes glare, reduces light pollution, and facilitates better vision at night.
By installing lighting that helps keep the sky dark by fully shielding the light bulb on the top and sides. The light’s directed downwards instead of upwards and through the sides. This removes excess glare hiding the stars in the sky.
5. Never use more brightness than you need
Ensure your outdoor lights aren’t unnecessarily bright. First, decide whether you need such bright outdoor fixtures. Then consider either LEDs or lightbulb glow next, for example, whether you need 3,000 Kelvins or 5,000.
Make sure you strike the right balance between navigating outside and getting a good night’s sleep. Ensure that the lighting you choose meets that smallest for both.
Now you know the practical part, let’s move onto what dark sky compliant fixtures look like.
Four fixtures you can buy that are dark sky compliant
There’s no better expert on LED lighting than Dwayne Kula.
So, we asked him – what fixtures do you recommend when a customer asks for dark sky compliant lighting? Here’s what he said:
““Dark sky friendly fixtures distribute light down where it’s needed and not upwards or outwards”. At LED Lighting Supply here’s our most popular DSC fixtures:
- Wall Packs: Full Cutoff Wall Packs, by design, limit upward and horizontal light pollution
- Shoebox (Parking Lot Lights): By design, these lights only point downwards (or should only point downwards)
- Street Lights: By design, these lights only point downwards (or should only point downwards)
- Sconces: By design, these lights only point downwards with no upward or horizontal light pollution
|Shoebox / Parking Lot Lights||Wall Pack Lights|
Outdoor lighting is necessary at night. Artificial lights illuminate our surroundings. Providing us with a sense of security and safety. However, using outdoor lighting fixtures will contribute to light pollution.
Excessive light pollution is terrible for the environment and can cause air pollution. It is almost impossible to view the stars at night. Especially in cities with so much artificial lighting from office buildings, factories, street lamps and billboards.
Dark sky compliance is critical because aside from reducing light pollution. It also reduces the amount of blue light during the night. This impacts the proper functioning of our bodies and the wildlife around us.
Using dark sky-compliant lights not only reduces light waste, it also offers many benefits. These include saving energy and money for your business. Win-win, right?
About the Author
Dwayne Kula is President of LED Lighting Supply. On any given day, Dwayne is writing content for the site and helps manage the marketing initiatives that are on-going. He has a Software Engineering degree and still dabbles in writing software for the company as needed. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing the occasional game of golf and exploring New England.