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That’s where lighting design comes in. Great lighting design can play a significant role in reducing the effect of exterior lighting on the environment, helping to ensure lighting serves its purpose whilst minimising its negative impacts. So, why do local authorities need to create lighting designs that maintain dark skies, and what expert support do they need to deliver these installations?

What’s so great about dark skies?

The importance of dark skies can’t be overstated. Not only is this a matter of aesthetic preference, but it has plenty of ecological significance, too. For example, natural day and night cycles are essential for plants, animals and humans to maintain their biological rhythms. Artificial lighting disrupts these cycles and can cause a range of problems, such as sleep disturbance, disorientation of nocturnal animals and interference with bird migration.

Additionally, light pollution can affect the ability of astronomers to study stars. So, lighting designers must consider the environment, the surrounding landscape and the desired outcome of every lighting installation to ensure it enhances the visual appeal of a location whilst also reducing energy consumption, minimising light pollution and promoting biodiversity. Expert lighting design can also play a role in reducing the negative impacts of exterior lighting on human health.

Improper lighting can cause glare, which can be a safety hazard, as well as headaches and eyestrain. This side effect can be particularly problematic for older people, who may have reduced visual acuity. As a result, developers and councils must employ a lighting consultant to manage this process. But where to begin?

Why hire a lighting consultant?

Lighting consultants can provide expertise and guidance on all aspects of lighting design, including technical and aesthetic considerations, installation and post-completion measurement and verification of lighting levels. A specialist lighting consultant will also help ensure compliance with lighting regulations, such as the International Dark Sky Association’s (IDA) guidelines. It’s crucial to find an advisor with experience in the specific type of lighting design required. For example, if designing lighting for a park, a lighting consultant with expertise in outdoor lighting would be the ideal choice.

The consultant should also be familiar with local lighting regulations and be able to work within the legal framework to help design lighting installations that minimise glare and provide adequate illumination for safety and security. Lighting consultants can also advise on the most appropriate lighting fixtures and technologies to use. LED lighting, for example, is a highly efficient and cost-effective solution that can reduce energy consumption and light pollution.

However, the colour temperature of LED lighting can affect people’s circadian rhythms, so it’s essential to choose the right temperature level to avoid any adverse side effects. While all the above is important to understand, the challenge usually comes with bringing together the time and knowledge needed to get these projects or initiatives off the ground. That’s where public sector frameworks such as those offered by the YPO can come into their own.

How does our Street Lighting Products and Services framework (lot 4) support lighting projects?

With the support of procurement solutions like the our Street Lighting Products and Services framework, which supplies project management and support services for exterior lighting installations, local authorities can pass the entire lighting design process to a trusted consultancy to deliver on their behalf. Packages can be as small or as large as required and can even be scoped to start at the very beginning, where optioneering or project evaluation can be considered.

These services can be structured as a lump sum or on a time-charge basis to suit the client’s budgets and needs. The Street Lighting Products and Services framework (lot 4) can help with several project elements, including:

As cities expand and lights become more powerful, maintaining dark skies becomes more and more critical for the environment and human well-being. By considering all aspects of lighting design and employing a competent lighting consultant to oversee the entire process, we can create a better environment for ourselves and future generations — all of which can be delivered in a neat package through frameworks such as our Street Lighting Products and Services framework (lot 4).

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Author

Richard Jackson

Executive Director
DFL UK