Less than a century ago anyone could see the Milky Way simply looking at the night sky. Today the majority of people will never see it from the place they live in.

The excess usage of artificial lighting and the CO2 emission due to the inappropriate use of lights is called lighting pollution and has severe repercussions on the environment.

Lighting pollution started with the industrialisation and invention of the light bulb and increased considerably with the growing population to protect communities from criminality, but also to extend our days. However, the real issue can be found in the inefficacy of most of the exterior lighting we find in densely populated areas. 80% of the world population live in urban areas flooded with skyglow (brightening of the night sky we see above cities).

Most light sources are partially or completely unshielded and light goes in all directions creating glare and light trespass, instead of being directed only towards the needed areas. These lights not only throw light upwards hiding our starred skies, but they also interfere with the natural alternation between night and day, breaking the natural balance of our environment.


There are numerous negative effects even though a lot of which can be difficult to identify: excessive and unnecessary power usage, ecosystem disturbance and health repercussions.

Nocturnal animals have seen their ecosystem changed, photosynthesis of plants have been affected, migration of birds, reproduction, nutrition, etc…

Humans are part of the ecosystem and we have been affected by light pollution too: artificial lighting, especially blue light, can affect our sleeping cycles, cause depression, reduction of melatonin that strengthens our immunity system.


However, lighting pollution can be avoided or reduced significantly.

First of all reducing the usage of blue light, this was initially a problem with LEDs as their light spectrum was predominantly blue light, however, with the improvement of technologies, this is no longer an issue if the right light sources are chosen. Using LEDs has reduced greatly the power usage, but this can be reduced even further by using directional lighting, and smart controls such as timers and sensors to only have lights on during busier hours. We can introduce timers and dimmers to control when the lighting is used and how bright the light is: more often than the lighting levels are a lot higher than necessary! It is wrongly believed that more light equals better safety, but it is not that simple.

The IDA (International Dark-sky Association) estimate that 30% of public lighting goes to waste, due for the most part to unshielded luminaires.

An appropriate planning of public lighting could reduce energy consumption to 60-70% and it would consequently reduce the CO2 emissions. Luminaires should be shielded, the light directed only where needed and interior lighting of buildings avoided at night.

Believe it or not, lighting designers are the first ones to be concerned with reducing lighting pollution and bringing back our Dark Sky! This is why it’s so important to design using the correct tools, knowledge and regulations. Eliminating lighting is not possible in our developing world, but we can certainly act towards doing our best to protect the environment and ourselves. It is important to only use lighting where and when necessary, use the right light sources and implement control systems that allow maximum controllability.

We would love to design your lighting project and if you would like to discuss this further please contact us via the website, or email design@moonlightdesign.co.uk or 020 8925 8639.

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