April 22-30 is Dark Sky Week and the International Dark Sky Association is sponsoring a number of events around the world to highlight the damage that light pollution does to our natural environment. As an amateur astronomer, I am keenly aware of the impact that unnecessary outdoor lighting has on observing and photographing the night sky. I think most homes at Balsam are designed according to the recommendations in the Habitat Review Guidelines (you can find it on the Building Link website) but owners also need to be aware of the importance of turning off unneeded lights and making sure lights are not left on or turned on by timers when they are away.
With all the new construction at Balsam, it’s a good time to remind everyone of the importance of limiting outdoor lighting from our homes. Our wildlife and folks who enjoy viewing the night sky will appreciate your efforts. Nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night. Light pollution radically alters their nighttime environment by turning night into day. Lighting that emits too much light or shines when and where it’s not needed is wasteful. Wasting energy has huge economic and environmental consequences. For new home construction, the Balsam Mountain Preserve Habitat Review Guidelines requires architects and builders to take steps to reduce outdoor lighting. Balsam Mountain Preserve is a gated community and outdoor lighting in general is of little use as a crime deterrent. Numerous studies have shown that homes with all night outdoor lighting are more likely to be targets of crime than those with no outdoor lights. If you are considering LED lights for new or existing homes, please see the IDA recommendations on light intensity and color at http://darksky.org/lighting/led-guide/.
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