Every year, more artificial light is flooding the Earth’s night skies, and scientists say that can be bad for the health and wellness of people, animals and even plants. That’s according to the results of a study that recently appeared in Science Advances journal.

Also known as photopollution, light pollution is, according to WikiPedia, “excessive, misdirected or obtrusive artificial light. As a major side-effect of urbanization, it is blamed for compromising health, disrupting ecosystems and spoiling aesthetic environments.”

There are four types of light pollution:

  • Light trespass. This is simply unwanted outdoor lighting from another property shining in your windows.
  • Over-illumination. This is too much light from a source, such as a building, caused by inefficient use of lighting technology, higher-than-needed lighting for tasks, indirect lighting, and keeping all of the lights in a multi-story building turned on overnight.
  • Glare. This is a term we use a lot in discussing the need for shading solutions, but more typically during the day. Glare is uncomfortably bright light, which can come at night from car headlights, reflections from illuminated surfaces, or improperly directed lighting.
  • Light clutter. This is created by excessive groupings of lights, such as in busy urban areas, or along roads with lots of bright lighting and advertising.
  • Skyglow. This is the glow that can be seen over well-lit, populated areas. In addition to contributions from the other types of light, it includes light reflecting from the ground level.

Light pollution can disrupt ecosystems and have adverse health effects on people, animal populations, and plants. Research has indicated some problems may include more headaches, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has demonstrated the importance of light pollution to the extent that a LEED credit can be earned for reducing light trespass and sky glow. One of the ways to help earn SS credit 8, according to the USGBC website, is to ensure that “all openings in the envelope (translucent or transparent) with a direct line of sight to any non-emergency lighting shall have shielding (for a resultant transmittance of less than 10%) that will be controlled/closed by automatic device between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM.”

You might think that the simplest way to avoid this is for large buildings to shut off their lights at night. But that seemingly simple solution doesn’t take into account night shifts, janitorial work, or safety lighting that always remains on. The proper shading solution guarantees results.

Here are five ways Draper can help you reduce or avoid adding light pollution to the night sky.

Opaque Shade Fabrics
The best way to drastically reduce light pollution is with opaque fabrics. Draper offers a variety of colors and materials from industry-leading fabric providers, including Phifer, Mermet, and Rockland. Fabrics weaves with small openness factors, such as 1 percent, will reduce light pollution, but only opaque fabrics can completely block light from flooding out into the night. You can compare our opaque fabrics here.

Automated Controls
When people leave their offices for the day, they probably don’t even think about closing the shades before they go. To ensure the shades go down at night, tie shade controls into the building automation system. When the work day is over, the system can be programmed to close shades throughout the building. For smaller buildings, individual shades or blocks of windows can be controlled by timers. Draper’s many motor and control options can be found here.

Light Gap Reduction
Even with the shades down, there can be light that escapes through gaps between shade fabric and the edge of the window. These light gaps can be reduced by employing “L”, “H”, or “U” shaped side and bottom channels. These channels will leave only indirect, diffused light to be seen from the exterior. Click here for these and other shade hardware options.

Light Blocking Side Channels
For fail-safe light pollution reduction, a light blocking system is required. These systems combine opaque fabrics with a fabric retention system and side channels for a complete blackout. There are no light gaps, and not even a diffuse glow can be seen escaping into the night. Click here for more information on Draper’s motorized FlexShade LightBloc.

Dual Roller Shades
While the owner or operator of a building may want top stop light escaping at night, they may also want to harvest daylight during the day, while keeping glare and heat gain to a minimum. Dual roller shading systems are the perfect solution. On the front roller is a light-filtering fabric for use during the way, while the back roller lowers an opaque fabric into light-blocking side channels for a complete blackout at night. To learn more about motorized dual roller shades, click here to go to our Motorized FlexShades page, and use the “Dual Roller” filter to the left of the screen.

To read an article about recent scientific research into light pollution, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about light pollution, you can read the Wikipedia entry here.

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