Helping you create lighting schemes that maintain dark skies

In February 2021 our customers made us aware of the issue with lighting impacting wildlife and insects - the issue known as dark skies. This issue also ties in well with other wildlife conservation, in particular bats.

Accidental or not, one of our clients - DPP smart homes managed to achieve a simple lighting installation that maintains dark skies with minimal impact on wildlife. Opting for 2700K downward facing, low glare lighting.

We're now working on and researching ideas for a range of lights that will be as least impactful as possible, and we will provide installation and design advice alongside this to support you.

So, what is Dark Skies?

The Dark Skies movement was started in Flagstaff, Arizona, with its roots going back to 1958! Flagstaff is the first internationally recognised Dark Skies place, which happened finally in 2001. Why was Flagstaff so relevant? Well, it's a place that has a very important observatory - the observatory which discovered Pluto! Polluting the night sky with artificial light essentially was impacting both people's enjoyment and the use of the observatory.

There are other Dark Skies places, including Brecon Beacons, Dartmoor, and the South Downs.

In more recent years, there has been lots of work by the Bat Conservation Trust, and there are some fantastic guides available for lighting and planting planning.

Landscape and urban design for BATS and biodiversity
BATS and Artifical lighting at night

In the UK, most of the time any local authority involvement will be more concerned about wildlife impact - especially Bats - then the actual Dark Skies issue, but both are issues that serve each other hand in hand.

So, what are the hard and fast rules for creating a Dark Skies & a wildlife-compliant scheme?

What are authorities requiring?

For most authorities, I've seen the requirements for a 2D layout plan, specification sheets, and details of the lights selected, and an overriding statement of their use/positioning. In some cases, I've seen the need for a lighting contour plan - which shows the lumen output at floor level. I wouldn't be surprised if this is amended to provide one at 2m too, as this is a typical height flown for bats. You'll probably need to consult a lighting designer for such a plan; we can help complete a plan if needed.

Videos on the dark skies issue:

The latest video from our online course.

The rules for creating a dark skies compliant scheme.

How I design a Uplighting VS dark skies lighting scheme for a garden overlay

Early videos during initial research

The first episode of the series to teach you a better way to install outdoor lighting in garden installations. In this episode I cover what is dark skies, and what impact artificial garden lighting has on wildlife and our night sky.

The second episode identifies the worst lighting offenders and how they impact wildlife

In the third episode we look at uplighting and beam angles, and although not complaint for dark skies, how we can redice our impact.

In the forth episode we look at which lights we can actually use in a dark skies scheme

And finally in the fifth episode we look at what else we need to be aware of

Dark sky and wildlife friendly lights