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Photo courtesy of Feiss at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Redding Station

Featured Article

Protect the Summer Sky with Dark Sky Lighting

Have a summer adventure in your own backyard with stargazing while making a difference to reverse a large-scale environmental concern

Article by Michael Wong

Photography by Courtesy of Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

Originally published in Red Rock City Lifestyle

For many homeowners, warmer weather signals the perfect time to take the art of entertaining into the great outdoors. Work-from-home drove an increase in residential outdoor renovations; many saw the time as an opportunity to build or reinvent thoughtful porch, patio, and exterior kitchen and living spaces. By taking advantage of proper lighting, they extended summer evening living into the night.

Today’s outdoor spaces are viewed as extensions of our existing living spaces, and creating a lavish outdoor space relies upon lighting. There's good news, as homeowners don't have to be left in the dark to create a luxurious, stylish, and safe outdoor space that is also sustainable.

According to The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), light pollution is reversible.

The organization works to protect the night skies by educating people about the importance of understanding the need to reduce light pollution. The organization also certifies lighting through the Dark-Sky rating certification process. While light pollution is a growing problem that can have serious consequences for people, wildlife, and the environment, a few simple changes recommended by IDA can lead to beautiful and functional home lighting - indoors and out - that does not contribute to excessive light pollution.


What is light pollution?

According to IDA, light pollution includes:

·         Glare – excessive brightness, causing visual discomfort

·         Skyglow – brightening of the night sky over inhabited areas

·         Light trespass – light falling where it is not intended or needed

·         Clutter – bright, excessive light sources

Light pollution can come from exterior and interior building lighting, advertising, commercial properties, offices, factories, streetlights, and sporting venues.

Tips for reducing light pollution

You can make your home night-sky friendly with a few easy steps, according to IDA:

·         Use lighting only when and where needed — and that is no brighter than necessary.

·         User warmer lights and minimize blue light emissions; blue light brightens the night sky more than any other color of light.

·         Install motion-detector lights and timers so lights don’t stay on all night.

·         Shield outdoor fixtures so the light shines where it needs to: downward.

In other words, choose dark sky lighting, which helps keep the sky dark while still providing illumination.

Transitioning toward eco-friendly and extravagant lighting

First, choose an energy-efficient light source.

·         Switching to solar lighting for illuminating walkways, stairs, and driveways is eco-friendly and reduces the home's carbon footprint. Since solar lighting relies on the sun’s energy, it requires little additional maintenance are very cost-effective. For wired lighting, LED and low-voltage options rely on stepped-down power from your home.

Next, consider how much light you need.

·         Ensure you are not adding to light pollution in your area by use of inappropriate or excessive artificial light. It isn’t just about the inability to see stars when on the backyard patio on a summer evening.

·         Follow the five principles for responsible outdoor lighting and ask your designer about fixtures with the “Dark Sky” or “Good Neighbor” seal of approval.

Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting

Developed jointly by the International Dark-Sky Association and Illuminating Engineering Society, these five simple principles show how you can protect nocturnal wildlife, be a good neighbor, and preserve the night sky.

1)      Useful – all light should have a clear purpose. Before installing or replacing a light, determine if light is needed. Consider how the use of light will impact the area, including wildlife and the environment. Consider using reflective paints or self-luminous markers for signs, curbs, and steps to reduce the need for permanently installed outdoor lighting.

2)      Targeted – light should be directed only to where needed. Use shielding and careful aiming to target the direction of the light beam so that it points downward and does not spill beyond where it is needed.

3)      Low Light Levels – light should be no brighter than necessary. Use the lowest light level required. Be mindful of surface conditions as some surfaces may reflect more light into the night sky than intended.

4)      Controlled – light should be used only when it is useful. Use controls such as timers or motion detectors to ensure that light is available when it is needed, dimmed when possible, and turned off when not needed.

5)      Color – use warmer color lights where possible. Limit the amount of shorter wavelength (blue-violet) light to the least amount needed.

What is dark sky-rated lighting?

When selecting outdoor light fixtures, look for those that mention the “Dark Sky” or “Good Neighbor” seal of approval. These fixtures are made to minimize the impact that artificial light may have on the environment and wildlife. IDA has a searchable Fixture Seal of Approval database.

“Making the move to dark-sky rated outdoor light fixtures is easy and has substantial benefits,” said Denise Vaughn, head of ESG/Sustainability for Ferguson. “It can mean the difference between being able to enjoy the stars at night and not being able to.”

“Ferguson offers a variety of dark sky outdoor light fixtures as part of the company’s commitment to provide our customers environmentally-friendly solutions,” Vaughn said.

Benefits of dark sky lighting

Minimizing the impacts of artificial light has other benefits besides helping us to see starry skies.

According to IDA, research suggests that artificial light at night has negative effects on creatures, including amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, and even plants. For example, migratory birds wander off course and collide with illuminated buildings and towers. Adult female sea turtles have difficulty finding dark beaches for laying their eggs, while newborn sea turtles have trouble making their way to the ocean.

Dark sky lighting also has health and safety benefits for people. Research suggests that artificial lights that emit blue lights may contribute to the causes of cancer, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, according to ADA. In addition, artificial blue-white lights can increase glare and adversely affect vision, potentially creating road safety problems. ​

Examples of dark sky fixtures

Acceptable dark sky lighting fixtures point downward and shield the light source to minimize glare and light trespass as well as make it easier to see at night. Examples include:

·         Full cutoff fixtures with flat lenses

·         Fully shielded wall pack and wall-mount features

·         Full cutoff streetlights

·         Fully shielded barn lights, walkway bollards, and decorative fixtures

·         Shielded and properly aimed floodlights

Director of Showroom Caroline Danielson said Ferguson makes dark sky-rated fixtures such as landscape lights and wall sconces available from trusted brands in a range of designs to compliment every home style.

“We help homeowners with lighting that boosts curb appeal and provides energy-efficient safety lighting for walkways and porches while also reducing light pollution and helping to protect the night sky and wildlife,” Danielson said.

Tips for hot climates:

·         Look to Arizona as an example. "Arizona has long fought against "light pollution" - city glare that obscures the night sky. The Dark Skies Movement is headquartered in Tucson, and Flagstaff, Sedona, the Village of Oak Creek, Camp Verde, and the Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation are all officially designated dark sky regions." (, Outdoor Adventures: Arizona's Starry Nights.")

·         Consider buying an outdoor ceiling fan without a light and pair it with recessed, ceiling Dark Sky-rated light rated light. This setup can keep homeowners cool and further deterring insects from gathering.

  • Photo courtesy of Feiss at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Redding Station
  • Photo courtesy of Hinkley at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Atlantis 3
  • Photo courtesy of Hinkley at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Atlantis
  • Photo courtesy of Hinkley Lighting at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Shelter 1
  • Photo courtesy of Hinkley Lighting at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Shelter 2
  • Person Standing Under A Rock Formation On A Starry Night
  • Photo courtesy of Progress Lighting at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery - Brookside