How Modeling Can Help Planners Reduce LED Light Pollution

Despite concerns for light pollution, cities are still looking to LEDs to reduce emissions and save money. But a modeling methodology can help planners and engineers analyze lighting designs based on their unique inputs.

By Andrea Fox, Gov1 Senior Editor

Municipalities are deploying LEDs to reduce emissions and save cities money, but critics are opposed to LEDs for various light pollution concerns from washing out the view of the night sky to sleep disruption and negative health links.

Last August, scientists began using images of cities at night taken by the International Space Station to study light pollution1. But with budgets and emissions targets weighing heavily in their decisions, mayors are still on board with LEDs. Just a few weeks ago, the Mayors Climate Protection Center released its report on which technologies are reshaping America’s cities, and the surveyed mayors say they are still leading the energy efficiency charge with LEDs.

However, there is a way for cities to minimize LED light pollution—before installation.

According to the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE), such a modeling program can help cities determine the social and environmental impacts of LED lights before installing them2.

SPIE reports that the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a methodology called Outdoor Site-Lighting Performance that city engineers and planners can use to model design options based on existing site conditions and lighting application requirements. This can help cities analyze the best possible lighting schemes that minimize light pollution aspects (sky glow, light trespass, and discomfort glare)—but still save money and reduce emissions.

To learn more, read about OSP’s measurement method.

To learn more about the Mayors Climate Protection Center survey, read our story.


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