The development of smart outdoor lighting policies can help prevent these negative impacts, save money, and improve nighttime ambiance in communities. As part of the Sustainable Jersey Silver Certification program, the Borough of Collingswood passed a policy ordinance regulating outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution and protect wildlife. Ordinance 1668 calls for efficiently shaped and positioned light fixtures, automatic timers, and maintained illuminance– efforts proven to be effective in preserving the night sky.
In addition to disrupting nocturnal habitats, The International Dark-Sky Association estimates that 30 percent of all outdoor lighting in the U.S. alone is wasted, mostly by lights that aren’t shielded, which adds up to $3.3 billion and the release of 21 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Nighttime exposure to artificial light also disrupts the natural circadian rhythm of humans, suppressing melatonin production and increasing risk of obesity, depression, sleep disorders, diabetes, breast cancer, and more, IDA reports.
Many argue that bright, unshielded lights are needed in neighborhoods to help prevent crime and increase safety at night. That is not the case. Bright, unshielded lights provide dangerous glare that decreases visibility. Proper light fixtures, like new lights installed in Collingswood, provide adequate light for increased visibility and decreased light pollution.
Want to learn more? Watch Diane Knutson: Why We Need Darkness or visit https://www.darksky.org.