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Lighting Research Center
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Troy, NY -  1/3/2002

Lighting Gas Stations Safely, Effectively

LRC evaluates canopy lighting as part of Light Pollution research

With the nation looking for ways to reduce light pollution, scientists at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are looking at ways to light up the night without brightening the night sky. One project focuses on gas station canopy lighting. The recent trend toward increasingly bright lighting for gas station has caused drivers, residents of surrounding areas, and local officials to complain about excessive glare, light pollution, and light trespass.

The LRC is demonstrating how gas stations can provide satisfactory light levels for their customers at night while reducing glare and light trespass. Other lighting objectives in the project include attracting customers, helping customers feel safe, and making the station visible from a distance.

The State of New York is considering a new law designed to cut down on light pollution and light trespass. Light pollution causes a brightening of the sky (skyglow) and blocks view of the stars, forcing people who want to star gaze to go away from built up areas. Light trespass refers to light that strays into areas in which it is not needed or wanted, such as adjoining properties, or into drivers’ eyes.

The current solution to light pollution being proposed is the use of full cutoff luminaires. But, according to Dr. Peter Boyce, these may not provide the desired effect. “We simply do not know yet. We want to avoid making a decision without knowing the facts. We could end up with more wasted light and more wasted energy,” said Dr. Boyce, who is conducting the LRC study.

When light reflection off the ground is considered, some full cutoff luminaires actually send more light up into the sky than some semi cutoff fixtures or cutoff fixtures, such as traditional, cobrahead streetlamps. Another consideration is the potential need for more lamps that are placed closer together because of the full cutoff design.

"We take a holistic approach in our research,” said Dr. Michele McColgan, a researcher at the LRC. "We're looking for better ways to light the things we need to see without wasting light. We support efforts to reduce skyglow and make it possible to see the stars. We especially want to reduce light pollution while mitigating wasted energy."


EDITOR’S NOTE, February 2002: Read the DELTA Snapshot report about this project, published after this study was completed.
Click here
www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/DELTA/pdf/DELTAsnpCanopy.pdf.


About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC has been pioneering research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, and energy efficiency for nearly 30 years. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. LRC researchers conduct independent, third-party testing of lighting products in the LRC's state of the art photometric laboratories, the only university lighting laboratories accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP Lab Code: 200480-0). In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.”