Looking into LEED: Light Pollution

July 20, 2020 | By: Molly Looman

Light pollution is one of many environmental factors to consider when working on a new or existing project. And it is one best observed at a distance.

If you have ever been on the highway at night, you can see little halos of light above most major cities. While an inevitability of that many buildings being close together, what you are witnessing is a form of light pollution. Let us breakdown what this means and what you can do at your building to decrease it.


Breaking It Down

Light pollution is defined as the presence of artificial lights in the night environment. It is often marked when there are excessive or obtrusive uses of light. While nighttime lighting is important for building security and the productivity of many construction sites, the presence of large scale artificial lighting can have some detrimental effects on the environment.

Light pollution affects animals and their migration patterns, especially near a coastline. It can also affect the mood and circadian rhythms of the animals and humans around the source. This means sleep patterns could be affected. In animals, it can limit a nocturnal animals ability to hunt or disorient a traveling animal. Not to mention, light pollution means less star and sky visibility.

Beyond the environmental effects, light pollution can be hurting your bottom line as well. Light pollution is usually caused by sustained artificial light using inefficient materials. This means that a lot of energy and money is potentially being wasted. The steps to decrease light pollution usually mean a lower energy bill.

Possible Solutions

Best solution? Turn off all the lights on your property at night. But that can be impractical and sometimes nighttime lighting is essential for safety, security and providing a viable workplace for nighttime staffers. Here are a few ways you can decrease light pollution on your properties.

The first is to change your lights. LED lights have a warmer tone that causes less eye strain and works more efficiently. If you don’t want to switch the bulbs, shield the outdoor lights you already have. Light pollution is all about the vertical, so if your shield pushes the light out instead of up, you are helping decrease the light being emitted into the sky. Shields are also an affordable solution to alter existing fixtures.

You can also install motion sensor lights that only turn on when prompted. This is great if your outdoor lighting is primarily for security purposes. Your area might also have light recommendations to pay attention to such as turtle safe lighting. If the outdoor lighting is for a construction site, try to make sure the flood lighting is kept to the necessary minimum and consider using cut-off lighting or motion sensors.

Bottom Line

Whether your outdoor lighting is temporary or permanent, it can have long lasting impacts on the environment around it. Taking steps to decrease light pollution will not only create a positive benefit for the creatures around you, but possibly save you money in the long run. If sustainability is a personal or company-wide goal, be sure to add decreasing light pollution to your list of initiatives.


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