When Fox News starts reporting on light pollution, you know that it’s a hot topic. Light pollution is beginning to get the air play it needs to alert people about this problem.
Reporter Kristin Lowman states that "Light Pollution is changing our ecosystem and lighting up night skies. But now, one local center has developed a framework that cities, even businesses can use to reduce excess lighting."
The local center she is referring to is the RPI Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Their website states that they are "… the world’s leading university-based research and education organization devoted to lighting – from technologies to applications and energy use, from design to health and vision."
If you’ve been following other articles written here at OutdoorLightingChoices, you know already that light pollution disrupts sleep and bird migrating patterns, but it’s nice to see it reported by this mainstream news organization. Dr. Mark Rea from RPI states, "I think most of society believes safety is the most important thing. But no one wants dying birds." I want to believe that!
Instead, I think that once people learn that they can save money by installing full cutoff, low voltage lighting using CFL bulbs, they will be more likely to make the necessary changes to help curb the problem of light pollution. RPI researchers have developed a light pollution monitor called Outdoor Site-Lighting Performance or OSP. The tool quantifies existing and planned lighting in a location.
According to this new story, this framework is working for some. This is not surprising, of course. As technological advances keep being made, planners, homeowners and businesses have better information from which to make decisions about outdoor lighting purchases. About the OSP, Dr. Rea says, "maybe we can lower the lights and not impact the safety, maybe tuck in the light so it only goes into the parking lot. As soon as they were given this tool, they reduced light pollution by 10 percent.
This was done without any change other than being able to measure what they produce." He doesn’t say anything about cost savings, but if the light is decreased and more energy efficient lights are being installed, I’m fairly certain that money savings follow. This is something that I will be researching more thoroughly and writing about later.
Another way to curb light pollution is by retrofiting buildings with light sensors so that the lights turn on and off as needed. The City of Albany is working to do this now and will eventually look to replace city lights as funding becomes available and as lights need to be replaced as a natural course.