Dark-sky Lighting: The Beauty and the Benefits

Dark-sky Lighting: The Beauty and the Benefits

Dark-sky Lighting Article in Newsday Features Autumn Leaf Landscape Design, Inc.

14 Apr, 2011

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Dark-sky Lighting: The Beauty and the Benefits

Dark-sky Lighting Article in Newsday Features Autumn Leaf Landscape Design, Inc.

Enjoy the Long Island night sky while being able to safely navigate through your landscape. Autumn Leaf Landscape Design offers professional installation of Low-voltage Dark-Sky fixtures to allow full enjoyment outside your home while saving energy and cutting down on light pollution. Our contribution to the Dark-sky movement is illustrated in the following Newsday article entitled, “Night light that won't outshine the stars.” Learn how you can save money on outdoor lighting without illuminating the night sky.

Travelers to mountainous or sparsely populated areas of the world often return to Long Island with glowing reports of night skies so clear it seemed they could almost touch the stars. It's a phenomenon rarely seen here because of overlighting and the misdirection of unshielded lighting. Such light pollution floods night skies, causing glare that diminishes the appearance of stars and planets.

But that will change in time due to the growing awareness of the Dark-sky movement. Coined by astronomers decades ago, it's a worldwide effort to save energy and eliminate light pollution by using low-voltage bulbs in fixtures aimed downward at the ground. Statutes are already in place in many Long Island towns for implementing and enforcing new Dark-sky compliant codes for exterior lighting.

For new projects, landscape lighting contractors now have their pick of many stylish Dark-sky-friendly fixtures. And existing fixtures can be easily and inexpensively retrofitted with snap-on shields. “This can mean that neighbors will no longer irritate each other with light trespass: invasive dawn-to-dusk security floodlights,” says East Hampton resident Susan Harder, a longtime advocate of the Dark-sky movement and founder of darkskysociety.org.

Harder was drawn into the cause when her house was “invaded” by light from neighboring homes and she realized that a simple shield costing $10 snapped onto their fixtures could solve the problem.

“Using Dark-skies compliant, energy-efficient light fixtures is just common sense,” says Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, a watchdog group that monitors energy use. “They make sure that the light hits the area you want to illuminate instead of needlessly wasting energy by illuminating the night sky.”

But a glance at the Long Island gardens, driveways and entryways shown on these pages proves that Dark-sky lighting is not exclusively utilitarian.

Light show- Rustic steps that lead to a spa at this Huntington home are illuminated with path-lighting fixtures. “The severe slope had made our backyard almost impossible to use,” says the owner. “But now it's a wonderful place for the family to step outside at night as well as in the daytime because the low-voltage lighting system makes it safe even to walk up the rustic steps to the new spa. Nothing glares in your eyes or into the sky.” He credits landscape designer Lenny Mirabile of Autumn Leaf Landscape Design of Huntington for the transformation, which tamed the rocky hillside by slicing it into a series of tiers anchored by a brick patio. Low-voltage Dark-sky fixtures illuminate the walkways and steps and accent the native laurels, evergreens and boulders that dot the slope. Fixtures aimed away from the patio as well as from the night sky are hidden in the plantings, where they cast pools of soft light on the foliage. “It's like a light show that we enjoy all year long, even from inside the house. We love the way the light washes over the retaining walls. It's like painting with light, and low-voltage lighting uses one-third of the energy of traditional systems,” says the owner.

Dimming the lights

If you are interested in installation of Low-voltage Dark-Sky lighting fixtures outside of your home, Autumn Leaf Landscape Design can help you. Cut your energy costs while creating a magical environment to enjoy year round. Questions about landscape lighting? Autumn Leaf Landscape Design will be happy to answer any questions you might have so give us a call today at (631) 424-5544.

Autumn Leaf

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