Starry Starry Nights – What is Light Pollution And How to We Stop It?
by Michelle Laurie
We believe that designing an environmentally efficient home starts with saving water, reducing energy costs, and using earth-friendly building materials. But reducing light pollution is becoming another factor in making a home a healthier place to raise a family.
Skyglow, an experimental time lapse, explores the effects and dangers of urban light pollution in contrast with some of the most incredible Dark Sky Preserves in North America.
Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050, according to a 2014 UN report.
So how does an artificially bright night sky affect us?
Directly, according to The International Dark Sky Association, a main authoritative voice on light pollution has established a set of criteria for certification of fixtures to encourage designers and the public to choose lighting that minimizes glare, reduces light trespass, and doesn’t pollute the night sky. Basically, if a light doesn’t serve a purpose, don’t use it.
The effects of light pollution are significant –the stars ‘disappear’, astronomical research is affected, ecosystems and wildlife are disrupted, and it can have cause adverse health effects and waste energy.
Anna Kondolf, a San Francisco based lighting designer says eliminating light pollution is very important and influences how she thinks about lighting design on all of her projects.
“We are very careful with exterior light fixtures. They should be shielded and aiming down,” says Kondolf, who worked with Mahoney Architects on the lighting for the Tiburon Green House project. “We rarely up- light trees any more. Shielding, Kondolf advocates, is another way to reduce polluting the dark sky with wasted light and energy. Unshielded outdoor lights are directly responsible for 14.7 million tons of carbon dioxide waste.
Kondolf is dedicated to creating engaging spaces with “subtle, efficient and emotionally resonant lighting effects.”
The IDA has chapters around the world, offering information and research to educate and increase awareness of the dangers of light pollution.
If you want to know how much light pollution affects where you live, check out this interactive map.