Trade Ally Network Northwest

Lighting Tech Tip: Bringing Back Dark Skies

March 6, 2023 | Trade Ally Network NW

For relighting parking lots or other outdoor installations, LED fixtures are a natural choice because they provide uniform illumination along with significant energy and maintenance savings. However, one aspect of lighting upgrades that is often overlooked is how the retrofit kits or new fixtures affect light pollution, also referred to as skyglow. While light pollution isn’t a new concept, it does require some specific knowledge and practices to minimize its impacts while maximizing effective lighting. Reputable organizations are weighing in on light pollution and offering solutions to help decision makers identify and quantify Dark-Sky-friendly luminaires.

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) is working alongside the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) to develop tools and best-practices. These resources account for natural environments, glare, light trespass, limits on amount of light for each property, and 0 percent uplight for street and area lighting. A new version of the team’s Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO), which is expected to be available soon, offers examples of uniform ordinances that municipalities can adopt into law. With outdoor lighting standards that reduce glare, light trespass and skyglow, the MLO will be a useful tool for communities wishing to reduce light pollution.

This collaborative team has also developed Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting (Figure 1). Each principle is based on technical research and presented in a practical, concise way, making the list of five a valuable tool for those discussing LED outdoor retrofit options with decision makers.

Figure 1

In addition, the Design Lights Consortium has recently launched its LUNA (Light Usage for Night Applications) technical requirements (v1.0), which help address better nighttime lighting for communities and reduce the negative impacts on the natural environment. DLC expects that advances in LED technology mean that manufactures can now combine energy efficiency and Dark-Sky friendly lighting systems more effectively. You can view the full technical requirements here.

To help you identify LED fixtures that will mitigate the negative impacts of outdoor lighting at night, LUNA has launched their new Qualified Products List for exterior lighting fixtures. The criteria used to identify technical requirements for qualifying fixtures were developed with input from multiple industry leading organizations, including IES and IDA. Now that LED lighting manufacturers have standards for qualifying their products, we anticipate this exterior lighting QPL to continually expand.

While the LUNA program continues to expand their approved fixture list, make sure to explore the IDA website for manufacturers offering IDA compliant fixtures and look for the IDA seal of approval on specification sheets. Currently the LUNA program has no impact on utility incentives at this time, however it’s important that we are aware of emerging best practices to make the right selections now to keep our communities to a “low glow” where we can enjoy the night sky.

To explore how much light pollution is around you and your community, click here.


Category: Best Practices

Tags: Dark Sky IDA IES LED Light Polution lighting Low Light Luna