Clear Thinking, Dark Nights: Why Stopping Light Pollution Matters

Vincent Lang
Research Manager

As the days get longer in the weeks following the spring equinox, we at Schréder are celebrating the darkness. This may seem counterintuitive for a lighting company, but protecting dark skies is at the heart of our work. Light pollution has grave consequences: of course, it’s irritating for people, but it actively disrupts the natural rhythms of fauna and flora, and wastes vast amounts of energy, as well.

Effective outdoor lighting reduces light pollution, leading to a better quality of life for all. We are proud to support the dark sky movement, which is working to bring better lighting to communities around the world so that all life can thrive. This week is the IDAS’s International Dark Sky Week, so what better time to discuss the importance of starry nights. The International Dark-Sky Association promotes win-win solutions that allow people to appreciate dark, star-filled skies while enjoying the benefits of responsible outdoor lighting.

Stunning Sunsets, Sustainable Lighting 

Delfzijl is a harbour city on the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands. The authorities wanted to restore the connection with the sea, improve the quality of life for the inhabitants and encourage sustainable tourism. The existing seawall was relocated and elevated, creating a larger beach area, and a pioneer salt marsh including a bird breeding island was installed along the coast. 

A new lighting scheme was needed to create a safe, vibrant space after dark: together with engineering consultancy InVra Plus and the lighting operator CityTec we created a lighting plan that meets the strict requirements of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site’s Dark Sky Programme.

PHAROS bollards were installed along the new promenade to ensure a safe passage, minimal disturbance for the local fauna and flora and zero light pollution, in line with the stringent environmental requirements. The new Diekloper Bridge is equipped with sustainable energy-saving LED lighting to guide people safely and create an attractive night feature.

Schréder provided urban lighting in Delfzijl to respect the Wadden Heritage Dark Sky programme

Certified Products, Starry Skies

There are many good reasons to minimise light pollution and protect dark night skies. There are practical ones: using less light saves on energy and helps the environment. Moral ones: it also protects the natural rhythms of fauna and flora. It also creates more pleasant spaces: France, for example, has strict new laws on outdoor lighting regulating levels, glare and timing. And then there are philosophical ones: since the dawn of time, the starlit sky has inspired humans to create, write and invent. 

We specialise in urban lighting solutions that are designed to minimise light pollution. All of our outdoor luminaires have been developed with specific photometric distribution options for roads, streets and pedestrianised areas, guaranteeing the right light, in the right place, at the right time. And our designs featuring a 0° tilt option ensure there is no upward light spill.

In fact, we have a range of products that have been certified by the International Dark Sky Association. No fewer than 21 of them have been approved, so if you want to create a lighting solution that respects the night, get in touch.

Snowy Nights, Science-Friendly Lights

In the Pyrenees Mountains, the lighting situation in La Mongie ski resort had gone downhill badly. Outdated street lights were bathing the slopes in an orange glow and obscuring the night sky. It was also affecting the astronomers working at the Pic du Midi observatory - 45% of the light pollution was coming from the ski station. 

The local authorities wanted lighting that used less energy, worked well in snowy conditions and wouldn’t disrupt the scientists’ valuable research. Schréder worked with them to develop a system with a colour temperature of 2700K, which limited the blue light interfering with observations of the night sky.

Thanks to our real-time Schréder EXEDRA management system, the lighting can be adjusted according to ski season requirements, weather and snow cover. It has cut energy use by 40% and means that everyone can enjoy starry nights on the slopes and bright streets for the après-ski.

Smart lighting has dramatically reduced light pollution for Pic du Midi Observatory

Pure Night, Pure Genius

Building on this strong foundation, we’ve developed the next weapon in the battle against light pollution: Pure Night. This system creates safe cities while respecting biodiversity and complying with the highest regulatory standards. We start, as ever, by listening to customers’ needs: a team of specialists will work with you on photometric studies to calculate precise requirements.

Pure Night includes innovative luminaires that, like many of us, look their best after dark, and accessories specially developed to meet the new requirements in terms of light pollution. Because compliance is a big part of lighting urban spaces now, you can certify your luminaires on our PURE software, to make sure they’re fully in line with local regulations. After that, it’s just a case of watching citizens enjoy these spaces as night falls.

Time to Act

Excessive use of artificial light is drowning out the constellations over urban areas, and Dark Sky Week shows that enough is enough. Our lighting solutions give optimum visibility, while safeguarding our starry nights: get in touch to see why sometimes, the brightest thing we can do for our customers is leave them in the dark.

About the writer
Vincent joined Schréder in 1997 and brings over 22 years’ experience in photometry. He was instrumental in successfully developing the LensoFlex® LED light engines for our street and road lighting luminaires. His insights and ideas have helped to pioneer new lighting technologies to ensure successful market launches for all our product ranges.

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