For years, the stars in our night sky have been obscured by artificial light from outdated streetlamps, businesses, residential houses, billboards, and more. The glow their inefficient lighting produces sends light up toward the sky, causing light pollution. As light pollution continues to be a serious problem, more self-storage companies looking to retrofit their lighting are considering LED lights to meet stringent local and state codes.
Regulating and Enforcing Policy Changes Regarding Outdoor Lighting
As the voice for light pollution, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has made it its mission to regulate and enforce policy changes regarding outdoor lighting ordinances to promote a sustainable, healthy environment free of unnecessary outdoor lighting. Their mission is simple: To protect and preserve the nighttime environment and minimize light pollution using high-quality outdoor lighting.
They believe the best way to achieve their goal of protecting the natural night environment is through controlling outdoor lighting with their Dark-Sky compliance program.
Here are a few reasons why the IDA believes in eliminating light pollution at night:
Sleeping patterns are disrupted: Being exposed to artificial light during the nighttime disrupts our body’s production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.
Wildlife is harmed: Artificial light at night has adverse and deadly effects on many creatures, including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and plants.
Energy could be wasted. It’s estimated that up to 30% of outdoor lighting in the U.S. is wasted, primarily by unshielded lights or lights with too much uplight. That adds up to $3.3 billion and releases 21 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
What is Dark-Sky Compliance?
The Dark-Sky Fixture Seal of Approval recognizes lighting solutions that minimize glare, reduce light trespass, and don't pollute the night sky. This third-party certification typically identifies fixtures that virtually eliminate uplight, have shielding options, and have warm-toned CCT (3000K and lower). However, even if specific LED lighting solutions don't have the IDA Seal of Approval, they can still be Dark-Sky compliant to meet project requirements. Therefore, these LED lighting fixtures are typically deemed "Dark-Sky compliant" because they still meet the IDA criteria and satisfy local codes regardless of having the third-party seal.
LED Lighting Delivers Dark-Sky Compliance and More
To that point, many LED products could meet project requirements for Dark-Sky. For example, full cutoff wall packs have optics that keep the light downward and cut off any light thrown too far out or upward. Area lights have several optic options to create distributions that eliminate uplight. Additionally, area lights have accessories such as backlight shields and house side shields that can further restrict the light and eliminate light trespass. These products are meant to be used in projects where local codes have restrictive lighting zones to reduce light pollution, including Dark-Sky compliance.
Example of how outdoor lighting and lighting pollution affects the night sky.
Image by International Dark-Sky Association.
Benefits That Go Beyond Other Types of Lighting
LED lighting is far superior to other legacy lighting like incandescent and CFL. In addition to being Dark-Sky compliant, LED lighting can last 3 to 5 times longer than a CFL and 30 times longer than an incandescent bulb. In addition, because LEDs emit light in a specific direction, they reduce the need for additional reflectors and diffusers that can trap light. LEDs also give off very little heat, while incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat, and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. These benefits increase savings and create a healthier environment for self-storage owners and commercial businesses.
Be Sure To Get A Lighting Expert
Upgrading to LED technology helps businesses like self-storage companies be energy efficient and simultaneously combat light pollution. Using LED full cutoff wall packs in drive aisles and building exteriors is the best way to help mitigate the effects of light pollution on people, the environment, and wildlife. No matter your LED preference, getting a lighting expert to assist with on-site audits and lighting layouts is the best way to effectively light your self-storage facilities and still be Dark-Sky compliant.