How to Save the Stars with Dark Sky Compliance

Welcome to the 21st Century, folks. With almost 7 billion people enjoying the fruits of this planet (and all the lighting technology that comes with it), things are starting to get a little too... bright. Which is why leading environmentalists and astronomers have managed to persuade law makers to pass things like California's Title 24, which regulates how much the people of California can consume in energy. California's building efficiency standards (along with those for energy efficient appliances) have saved more than $56 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978. It is estimated the standards will save an additional $23 billion by 2013. And that's a good start to saving the planet and the night sky. So if you want to jump on the Title 24 bandwagon (you don't even have to live in California!) look into energy efficient and money saving fluorescent lighting fixtures right now.

But what is Dark Sky compliance? A lot of people don't know about the dangers of light pollution and
what it can do to our beautiful starry nights.

Especially in urban populations, glare is a big issue. It's important for commercial businesses to use Dark Sky Compliant lighting so that their outdoor lighting fixtures only shine light on what really needs to be illuminated. It is dangerous for homes and businesses to use outdoor lighting that is not Dark Sky compliant, because the light beams could create glare which could be distracting to drivers and pedestrians.

Another issue, of course, is that in urban areas, amateur (and professional!) astronomers can no longer see the heavens. Stars, planets, meteors, the Moon--you name it--it all gets washed out by light that is needlessly directed upward, both wasting energy and blocking out the brilliance of the stars. But don't worry, an effective way to increase energy efficiency while reducing light pollution is to use a full cutoff light fixture. This is achieved with the cutoff lighting fixture directing light only where it is needed--down at the user and out in the pathway of the user instead of up towards the sky and away in unneeded directions. A cutoff light fixture is one enclosed in a sort of shield, case, or cover that is used to "cut off" unnecessary light. These light covers come in many different styles, materials, and colors to match your outdoor lighting design needs.

According to our friends at the International Dark Sky Lighting Association, all Dark Sky compliant lighting installations should be:

1. Designed and installed to be fully shielded (full cutoff).

2. Have a maximum lamp wattage of 250 watts HID (or lumen equivalent) for commercial lighting, 100 watts incandescent, and 26 watts compact fluorescent for residential lighting (or approximately 1,600 lumens).

3. Should be shielded such that the lamp itself or the lamp image is not directly visible outside the property perimeter.