Tip of the Week: Light pollution hurts more than the view

Did you know 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way? Why? The cause is light pollution.

Light pollution is not just an issue up in the sky for astronomers. It's also at ground-level impacting biological processes and ecosystems and this is why we need to pay attention.

Think pollinators. Artificial night light decreases the number of nocturnal pollinators such as bats, moths and beetles. Without their busy work after dark, yields from agricultural crops - and maybe your own back-yard veggie garden - are suffering.

Admittedly, the majority of light pollution results from excessive outdoor lighting used to market businesses. That's why in a place as remote as Death Valley National Park the glow of light domes from Los Angeles and Las Vegas is visible.

Wasted resources
Light that goes up is a waste of resources. The Dark Sky Association reports ca. 30% of outdoor lighting in the U.S. is wasted each year and mostly from lights that are not shielded. It adds up to $3 billion of wasted energy.

Design to reduce pollution

We can control pollution and it begins up front with design. Residential and business property owners and managers can make a difference by following simple guidelines:

  • Reduce glare - excessive brightness. 
  • Avoid light trespass - light falling where it is not needed.
  • Don't create light clutter by using bright, confusing and excessive groupings of lights.
  • Choose full cut-off, shielded fixtures that direct light downward.
  • Select proper brightness based on lumens and not wattage; 100-200 lumens is adequate.
  • Work with a pro who knows CCT and select less than 3000K, preferably 2700K.

These technical terms may be TMI for many of us. The takeaway is to work with a design pro who understands lumens, Color Correlated Temperature (CCT) and degrees Kelvin (K).

Light pollution has only been studied for a few years and most people are unaware of its impact. Here's where we can take a lesson from recycling. It started small and now it is a big part of our collective culture. One person and one smart step at a time, we can also start to tackle light pollution right where we live most - in our own back yards.


Please email our team at info@designscapes.org to learn more about how we can reduce light pollution in your yard.

This entry was posted in Outdoor Living Spaces