Text: Dr. Karolina M. Zielinska-Dabkowska MSc. Arch, Dipl. Ing. Arch (FH), PhD, PLDA

24. Jan 2014

To light or not to light?

Over the last hundred years, people have radically altered the appearance of the night sky. The development of industry, change in lifestyle and mass consumption depending on time of day – have all contributed to the loss of natural darkness in vast areas of our planet. The studies conducted so far indicate that lighting installations visible after dark negatively impact flora and fauna.

Artificial lighting disrupts the functioning of specific organisms such as birds, fish, bats and insects. Observations have shown that too much artificial light, especially coloured light, can have a huge impact on nocturnal species, misaligning their circadian rhythm. Animal preference for nocturnal activity may be due to factors such as: avoiding predators, aversion to heat, safer feeding or reproduction. Also changes in the intensity of ambient light at night may lead to problems with reproduction, avoidance of suitable habitats, changes in seasonal migration routes, and to a reduction in numbers or even the extinction of certain species. In spite of the fact that increasingly more research has been performed on the negative impact of external illumination on flora and fauna, unfortunately this is rarely considered in professional lighting design practice, the reason being that researchers and scientists focussing on biodiversity do not share the findings of their scientific work with those who design the lighting – professional lighting designers. On the other hand, lighting designer slack any information available on the above topic and there are no established guidelines to follow. With this article I would like to start a discussion based on the relatively recent discoveries of how much all life on earth relates to natural light, and to question the idea that evolution has embodied within all living organisms a natural sensitivity towards their native environment, in particular towards white and coloured light. Additionally, I would like to establish a set of guiding principles on how to reduce the negative consequences of external illumination on the lives of birds and fish.

Illumination of tall buildings and structures
Since the invention of the electric bulb the concept of exterior illumination on buildings has captured the imagination of architects, buildings owners, lighting designers and the general public. Exterior architectural lighting is associated with power and prestige. However, with the change in people’s perception of the environment and ecological issues it has become a “hot” topic. […]

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 91

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