Have you been to a dark sky park?
Are you curious about why they’re so popular, or how this trend affects the landscape lighting business?
As a business in the lighting industry, dark sky parks seem like they’d be bad news for lighting manufacturers, but that’s not the case!
The dark-sky movement is “a campaign to reduce light pollution. The advantages of reducing light pollution include an increased number of stars visible at night, reducing the effects of electric lighting on the environment, improving the well-being, health, and safety of both people and wildlife, and cutting down on energy usage.”
Dark-sky lighting got started as a concept in the 1950s in Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff has a population of over 70,000, but because of their lighting, their skies are dark enough to see the Milky Way!
How Does Dark-Sky Lighting Work?
The International Dark-Sky Association certifies light fixtures as dark sky friendly, and these will have the IDA Fixture Seal of Approval.
Some ordinances and regulations include:
- For commercial path lighting, full shielded fixtures (light directed only downward with no adjustability) are required
- Architectural lighting such as a wall pack or sconces should also be fully shielded
- Shields to block side glare are required
- Some uplighting is allowed, but often there are limits on lamp size and temperature
- Contractors will be given a maximum lumen or foot-candle limitation that will be checked by the inspector during construction
Tourist Destination, or Environmental Protection?
You might have seen dark-sky preserves (protected areas mostly found in national parks that have a zero light pollution policy) as a tourist destination – a place to see the stars unobstructed, and that’s certainly true in some areas. In others, dark-sky lighting is seen as an environmental initiative.
At RP Lighting + Fans HQ in Albuquerque, NM, there are several city ordinances that must be followed. In 1999, the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance declared the New Mexico night sky as one of the state’s most endangered resources, and compliance with these ordinances are required by the New Mexico Electrical Code.
How Do Lighting Manufacturers Comply with Dark-Sky Lighting?
According to DarkSky.org, “modern society requires outdoor lighting for a variety of needs, including safety and commerce.”
To minimize the harmful effects of light pollution, lighting should:
- Only be on when needed
- Only light the area that needs it
- Minimize blue light emissions
- Be fully shielded
- Be no brighter than necessary
At RP Lighting, we’re familiar with city ordinances, and have the products you need to keep your business or construction project compliant. Talk to one of our experts today for help deciding on the correct outdoor lighting!
You can read more about dark sky-friendly lighting and search products that have the International Dark-Sky Association’s Fixture Seal of Approval on their website.