Is Your Landscape Lighting Polluting the Environment?

Avoid nuisance lighting and glare that bothers neighbors and interferes with the night sky view.

Many homeowners turn to professional outdoor lighting designers to showcase their trees, homes and yards with nighttime illumination. But a good designer works to light the yard as efficiently as possible while minimizing the effects of glare and light intrusion on the street, neighboring properties and the night sky.

Such indiscriminate use of light, known as light pollution, can cause any number of problems, ranging from angry neighbors to upsetting the balance of nature. So, responsible landscape lighting designers work hard to use light efficiently, avoid wasting light and prevent nuisance lighting. When hiring a landscape lighting designer, homeowners should make sure their methods avoid causing light pollution.

Advocates of reducing light pollution focus on increased skyglow (an increased brightness of the night sky) and light trespass (when unwanted light intrudes onto other properties, such as your lights glaring into a neighbor's yard.)

Reducing light pollution

The U.S. Green Building Council, in the most recent version of residential development rules for LEED green certification, increased light pollution standards, citing the need "to minimize light trespass from the building and site, reduce sky glow to increase night sky [viewing] access, improve nighttime visibility through glare reduction, and reduce development impact from lighting on nocturnal environments."

Marlin Bennett, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives in Birmingham, Alabama, says his clients frequently say they want to be good neighbors when they install a new lighting system.

"Nobody wants to come home one night and see that their neighbor has put in outdoor lighting that's pointing at their own house," Bennett says. "That's the biggest consideration with light pollution for neighbors. You won't want the customer to be blinded or the neighbor to be blinded. The solution is to be wise in where you place fixtures and how you direct them."

He notes that sound lighting design from the start helps to avoid these problems.

"The best design of an outdoor lighting system is one where you don't see the fixture and you can't see the light source unless you walk right up to it," he says... (continued here)

To read more about outdoor light pollution, finding efficient lighting and local light ordinances, read the original article Is Your Landscape Lighting Polluting the Environment?. This article originally ran on Angie's List and is part of a series on the topic of Landscape Lighting. The series aims to educate readers about emerging Landscape Lighting trends. For more information about Angie's List, visit AngiesList.com.