Columbia River Gorge organizations secure a Google Grant for LED lighting program complies with Dark Sky standards

May 17, 2016
Over the past several months the Goldendale Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Columbia Economic Development District (MCEDD), and the Friends of the Goldendale Observatory have been working with Gorge-wide utilities and city and county governments on a project intended to help educate Columbia River Gorge communities about energy efficiency through the appropriate use of LED lighting technology for outdoor illumination and to encourage astronomy education. The group, through MCEDD, recently received funding through a grant from Google's grant program to support the ‘Gorge Night Sky’ project.

With the increase of highly efficient LED lighting options, many homeowners, businesses and cities are looking at upgrading their outdoor lights. This opportunity poses a risk to the nature of our rural dark sky and Goldendale Observatory State Park’s International Dark Sky Certification. The goals of the Gorge Night Sky project are to educate the community about Dark Sky standards and energy efficient LED options, develop educational units specifically targeting 4th and 5th grade students, promote preservation of the Gorge’s rural dark sky by helping consumers choose products that maintain or increase energy efficiency and meet Dark Sky standards, and work with local vendors to gather commitments to stock Dark Sky compliant, energy efficient LED options. "Google grants support specific areas of work; in this case, STEM education and carbon reduction efforts,” said Dave Karlson, Operations Manager at Google's Data Center in The Dalles. "We hope local students benefit from this opportunity to learn more about astronomy and energy efficiency."

A portion of the grant will support a two-day educational symposium scheduled for August 18-19, 2016, at the Goldendale Observatory and the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center. The symposium has tentatively scheduled feature speaker Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light” but is currently seeking additional sponsor funds to secure his travel. If you are interested, sponsor opportunities range from $500 to over $5,000 and include your logo on materials and website, exhibit space at the Discovery Center, and complimentary registration for the symposium. In addition, the symposium will host speaker sessions on lighting efficiency and Dark Sky Initiatives. Requests for additional speakers, sponsors, and vendors can be found on the website.


Jacque Schei, Project Manager - Mid-Columbia Economic Development District