Nightscapes Around Town

Some lighting is good...

DSC08678.JPG (34810 bytes) Full cutoff lights direct all light downward to this path, which is brightly lit.  Notice how the light does not extend upward into the upper half of the trees.  
DSC08676.JPG (23653 bytes) Full cutoff lights illuminate the school grounds without contributing to glare or direct sky glow.  shielded04626.JPG (16305 bytes)
04778.JPG (39220 bytes) Billboards are among the most offense applications when the lights point upward, yet this example shows how a billboard can be well illuminated without the adverse effects.  Here the lights simply aim down.
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Car dealerships with good lighting?  You bet.  This dealership has well shielded lights that amply illuminate the inventory.

04807.JPG (35315 bytes) Wall packs aimed downward and lights under canopies brighten the property.  In addition to saving the night sky, these applications save money, for less energy is required when the light is not wasted upward.
04811.JPG (35282 bytes) During closed business hours, the exterior of this storefront is bright and secure with zero glare.
door03902.JPG (24333 bytes) One recessed bulb amply lights a residential front door without the need for additional wall-mounted porch lights.
DSC08373.JPG (24149 bytes) Recessed canopy lights of a drive-through bank provide ample security without glare.
yellowstone06341.JPG (32022 bytes) Dark-sky friendly lights benefit the National Parks, such as this installation at the Lake Yellowstone Lodge.  


DSC07879.JPG (35916 bytes)Some lighting is not so good...

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Globe lights waste nearly half of their energy to the sky.  Taxpayers could cut their energy bill significantly with more attractive, efficient lights.

A string of "acorn lights" waste energy skyward and shine directly into the eyes of drivers. 

rainy04622.JPG (37655 bytes) High light levels--well beyond the brightness needed for a parking lot--overwhelm the eyes at a road intersection.  Note how the lighting hazard is compounded by the reality of a gentle rain falling on the windshield.

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Excessively bright lights on high lamp posts spill light well beyond the property boundary.
lot04608.JPG (24956 bytes) The hazard of poor lights become even greater when motorists need the illumination most, such as during poor weather conditions.  
floods04595.JPG (33075 bytes) floods04901.JPG (30357 bytes) Floodlights aimed outward from a house shine indiscriminately into adjacent properties.  See also before-after.htm
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Globe lights waste energy--and tax dollars--by throwing much of their output to the sky.  The glare from the unshielded lights creates such great contrast for the observer's eye that the pedestrians and roadway remain dark while the globes are bright.
04794.JPG (17118 bytes) Glare from an angled light creates such a bright veil of light across the field of view that the intended target--the parking lot--remains dark and unsafe, in spite of the bright light.
04779.JPG (30631 bytes) 04788.JPG (28407 bytes) Left: Lights at a gas station extend below the canopy and into the eyes of drivers approaching the intersection.  Note the obscured traffic signals near the line of sight.

Right: A nearby gas station ramps up the brightness level well beyond the needs of customers.  Because all of the bright lights are unshielded below the canopy, this exposure truly suggests the overlighting by one business.

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Vanity lighting creates a stark-looking facade at the expense of the night sky.  A softer architectural effect could have been achieved with lower lighting aimed more judiciously, especially downward.  
mix04817.JPG (20284 bytes) mix04767.JPG (23104 bytes) The positive gains from the shielded box light are countered by the tilted lights that aim outward into drivers' eyes.   
bats04849.JPG (13760 bytes) A well-intentioned bat house on a pole at a county park is awash in light under these multiple fixtures.
07675.JPG (30351 bytes) DSC07672.JPG (22727 bytes) Left: A bank of wall pack lights shines outward into the eyes of drivers while creating an unsightly approach.  

Right:  Ironically, the other facades of the shopping center are tastefully illuminated with lights that cut off the direct glare.

DSC07913.JPG (30856 bytes) Towering unshielded lights are at the eye level of motorists on the adjacent elevated roadway.
DSC07954.JPG (31442 bytes) DSC07958.JPG (34362 bytes) Parking lot lights encircling a funeral home are tilted upward, aiming into the eyes of nearby drivers and spilling well beyond the landscape buffering at the property line.  
DSC07894.JPG (31112 bytes) Flashy blinking signage obstructs the view at an intersection, distracts the attention of drivers, causes disabling glare, and detracts from the community appearance.
DSC07866.JPG (23937 bytes) Angled lights aim into the eyes of drivers near an ice cream stand.
DSC07781.JPG (27929 bytes) DSC07948.JPG (26537 bytes) Left: Floodlights shine skyward beyond the upper portion of a church.

Right:  When the upper lights are turned off, the stained glass windows are visible, energy is saved, and the night sky is preserved.

DSC07888.JPG (28008 bytes) A hotel on the edge of a corn field is awash in vanity lights aimed upward against its facade.  
DSC07927.JPG (20661 bytes) Lights aimed outward impair the visibility of motorists. 
DSC07928.JPG (21960 bytes) A few businesses compete for the distinction of having the most obnoxious outdoor lighting.  Unshielded, angled lights that are the biggest culprits detract from the appearance of the community.
DSC01836.JPG (48174 bytes) Round globes aim much light upward, while the downward light casts shadows and is impeded from reaching the ground by the triangular frame.
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cluster05658.JPG (54175 bytes) DSC05676.JPG (28833 bytes) Yikes!

(See more examples from Around Town)


Harris Township Junior Baseball and Softball Association (HTJBSA) in Granger, IN, tripled the number of fields illuminated from one to three.  While they installed Musco Lighting's SportsCluster 2 system, they they did not install either Musco's Level-8™ or  Total Light Control™ options.  According to the manufacturer, these environmentally sensitive features (shown below) "redirect wasted spill light" and offer "up to 95% reduction in spill light and glare."  

harris04448.jpg (15131 bytes) HTJBSA officials suggested the new configuration will spill the light equivalent to a full moon. 

harris04444.JPG (15594 bytes) Left:  The glow of distant lights during a full moon with no field lights.


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Left: During the off-season when the field is under snow, the glare of two lights remain.

Right: The lights from one ball field spill over with significant glare.  Note that you can still see the two unshielded year-round lights.

harris04447.JPG (14342 bytes) harris04446.JPG (12677 bytes) harris05216.JPG (30401 bytes) DSC05215.JPG (1355368 bytes)  Top: Opposite the ball fields with no lights on, the surrounding area is relatively dark, even during a full moon with snow on the ground.


Bottom:  The spillover from only one ball field's lights illuminates the surrounding area well beyond the level of a full moon..


aerial04335.jpg (23506 bytes) aerial04333.jpg (30132 bytes) As seen from above, wasted light is directed upward toward the plane.  Admittedly, some light is reflected off the snow, but the greater culprit is direct light (seen as glare)  directed skyward. 

Urban Wildlands Conference features abstracts and papers that address the impact of outdoor lighting on the natural habitat.

Advocates of a proposed World Trade Center memorial entitled Freedom Tower suggest their massive outpouring of light is "a pioneer in environmental quality"  and "a world-class model of energy efficiency and environmental sustainability."  For the press release from Governor George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, World Trade Center developer Larry A. Silverstein and architect David Childs, see http://renewnyc.com/displaynews.aspx?newsid=bd4d88dd-5d0b-446f-b945-00b785aba5cb

wastemgmt.jpg (110364 bytes)Waste Management touts its conversion of trash into energy.  Unfortunately, it promotes bright lights as a positive outcome.

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Copyright ©2009 Chuck Bueter.  All rights reserved.