The emergence of electric lighting at night nearly a century ago has positively affected countless aspects of human life, ranging from improved safety and security to stronger economic development. But too much nighttime illumination can cause problems for stargazing, animal health, and may even compromise sleep, often leading some people to say "lights out." Balancing public and private interests for nighttime lighting has been a difficult undertaking, but scientists at the LRC have developed the first-ever comprehensive method for predicting and measuring various aspects of light pollution.
The method, called Outdoor Site-Lighting Performance (OSP), allows users to quantify — and thus optimize — the performance of existing and planned lighting designs and applications to minimize excessive or obtrusive light leaving the boundaries of a property.
"Until now the conversation about light pollution has been just that — a lot of talk with no data,"said Mark Rea, LRC director and principal investigator on the project. " The Lighting Research Center's Outdoor Site-Lighting Performance measurement method is a powerful tool, allowing users to address three important aspects of light pollution — sky glow, light trespass, and discomfort glare — quantitatively and at the same time."
Although the three factors are independent of each other, each is measured using OSP, allowing users to control and maximize the positive benefits of nighttime lighting, while simultaneously minimizing their negative consequences for the public.
The research was funded by Acuity Brands Lighting, Lumec, Philips Lighting, and R-Tech Schreder.
To learn more about the OSP method, open the press release or read the full details published in the journal of Lighting Research Technology, Vol. 40, No. 3, 201-224 (2008).
About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit http://www.lrc.rpi.edu.