Generally, the choice to retrofit or introduce solid-state lighting (SSL) into an outdoor lighting project is based on the needs of the humans who roam the area. But as our habitat has evolved to a more urban/suburban one — with less precious space between humans and the wildlife that occupied the land first — municipal planners, lighting specifiers and designers, and other parties have a responsibility to consider the animals’ behavioral patterns and natural cycles when determining an outdoor lighting scheme, too. Following are five notable examples of SSL designs and projects that made wildlife a priority, attempting to improve their living conditions in a civil-engineered environment or at the very least bring less disruption to these animal inhabitants.
Back in 2013, chief editor Maury Wright noted that the amber spectrum delivered by products from Dasal Architectural Lighting (now known as Lightheaded) and Lighting Science Group was developed to prevent coastline-inhabiting turtle species from being disrupted by overly-white nighttime illumination that can confuse the creatures into leaving the water at the wrong times, leaving them vulnerable to predation and dehydration as well as disrupting their egg-laying cycles.
While a report by Caroline Hayes on a Norman castle project in Durham, England was mainly focused on the architectural integrity of the structure, an integral part of the job was helping to preserve the habitat and behavior patterns of Pipistrelle and Natterer bat species, which not only live and hunt in the vicinity but also had roosted in crevices around the building! Lighting is controlled with timers and movement sensors, the spectrum of the light output was specified for lower impact, and fixtures were carefully placed for the least amount of light spill possible. These bats continue to live like royalty at their castle home.
Cree has shown it is experienced in providing outdoor area luminaires with optics that direct light for optimal visibility and minimal glare and pollution. In 2014, Laura Peters pointed out that in some places, the natural cycles of light and dark are rather extreme and these spots require excellent lighting for reasons we might not usually consider. In Svalbard, Norway, which is quite dark between April and August, the town of Longyearbyen achieved payback and energy savings goals with LEDway fixtures that provided targeted street illumination while respecting the natural habitat of polar bears and reindeer, just to name a couple of cohabitants. Being able to see and avoid a rather large animal seems of paramount importance, as does allowing such neighbors to continue with their natural routines outside of the town proper.
Over in the North Sea, the island of Ameland welcomed the opportunity to work a new hue into its outdoor lighting. Still Philips Lighting at the time (now Signify), the company’s lighting scientists and product developers heard the municipality’s requests to meet its low-energy goals alongside its desire to preserve the night skies and reduce the interference of white light on seafaring birds’ migratory patterns. The company claimed that the luminaires’ blue-green illumination was indeed human friendly as, according to a spokesperson cited in Mark Halper’s report, “once you are exposed to this light for a while, your eyes are automatically adjusting and correcting themselves so that people usually experience the light as being white light, just like cameras have auto correction to white balance.”
Finally, we circle back to bats again as well as another project fulfilled by Signify. But bats are so very interesting because of their complex visual, auditory, and navigation systems. In the Netherlands, as Halper wrote recently, the neighborhoods of Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop opted for new red-light emitting LED street, area, and bollard lights that are controlled by Signify’s Interact City management software for additional control. The red-light spectrum is intended to help bats sustain their eating and procreation habits. Hopefully, the new lighting gives them a boost in survival rates. And the light is designed to allow the human inhabitants to see and distinguish colors and details in their surroundings.
We look forward to bringing you more on these kinds of ecologically-sensitive lighting reports.