April 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 51

Illuminating Solutions to Light Pollution
By Lindsay Collins

A

s society continues to quickly urbanize, the issue of light pollution increases across the globe. This excess output of light
from buildings, streetlamps, and sports stadiums and fields is
not only a nuisance, but also a culprit that wastes energy, disrupts ecosystems, alters wildlife behavior and has detrimental effects on
human health.
Some of the contributors of light
pollution are sports fields and stadiums. And, according to the International Dark-Sky Association
(IDA), " In the [United States]
alone, it is estimated that more
than 2,000 outdoor sports lighting
complexes are either retrofitted or
installed every year. " Many of the
newly created fixtures are installed
at schools, parks and neighborhood
complexes (tinyurl.com/uysbbtg).
For residents in these areas, spill
light (light that travels beyond its
intended space and illuminates
excess area) and glare (excessively
bright light that reduces the ability
to see) prove to be common and recurring issues. While these are the
primary points of contention for
neighbors of sports fields, skyglow
(light that is scattered into the atmosphere) can extend farther distances and affect ecosystems and
wildlife habitats.
To address the role that sports
lighting plays in the increasing issue of light pollution, IDA has
developed criteria for communityfriendly outdoor sports lighting (tinyurl.com/yxxkh77a). By adhering
to IDA's criteria, " ...communities
demonstrate and promote the vision for outdoor sports lighting that
simultaneously meets the demanding task of illuminating nighttime

sports events while preserving the
night skies, " the organization states.
In recent years, many manufacturers have worked to develop
lighting systems that are more effective for their intended purpose
while eliminating many of the
undesired effects. These solutions
include:
* Fully shielded lighting fixtures,
which prevent light from traveling upward from the source
* Switching to LEDs, which conserve energy and offer more control and precision than traditional incandescent lights
* Automation or control systems
that allow lights to be turned off
at a pre-selected curfew time
* The minimization of blue wavelengths that can affect human
sleep cycles by suppressing melatonin, a hormone that regulates
the sleep-wake cycle
In addition, Fairfax County
Park Authority in Virginia produced a report (tinyurl.com/
urlmcjr) that outlines many of the
issues involved with controlling
light pollution and offers recommendations for tackling the problem, including:
* Adhering to the International
Commission of Illumination's
guidelines for light source intensity
* Considering shielding, reflectors,

wattages, beam types, mounting
height and aiming angles, which
each influence the amount of
glare produced
* Taking advantage of natural
screening when possible
* Using timers, sensors and controllers to keep light from unnecessarily entering neighboring
spaces
* Closely supervising scheduling
and field use to ensure that lights
are not left on when not in use
Taking time to assess your sports
field lighting to ensure adherence
to industry standards can reduce
your costs and energy production
and improve nighttime conditions
in your community while limiting
your impact on the night sky.
Lindsay Collins is Associate Editor for
Parks & Recreation magazine (lcollins@
nrpa.org).

PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G | A P R I L 2 02 0 |

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April 2020 - Parks & Recreation

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April 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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