Westmont, Illinois - Date Issued: July 21, 2023
“I want to thank the members of our Environmental Improvement Committee (EIC) for making sure this topic has remained a focus for our community,” said Village Trustee and EIC Chair Bruce Barker. “This Dark Sky Grant Program will help incentivize Westmont residents and businesses to consider changes for their properties that will reduce or even eliminate unnecessary light pollution and protect our evening skies for everyone to see and enjoy. There is also a contest component to the grant to encourage participation.”
The goals of the Dark Sky Grant & Contest are:
The grant program will begin on July 21, 2023 and will continue through the end of this calendar year or until grant funds for this program have been exhausted. To participate, residents and businesses must go online and fill out the application form.
As part of the grant application, the applicant must list in detail their intended Dark Sky purchase. The EIC will review applications to confirm that criteria is met. If the grant is approved, then the business or resident will complete their Dark Sky improvement, provide proof and purchase as well as evidence that the project has been completed, then the Village will award the reimbursement grant to the recipient. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis providing that the application meets grant eligibility and there are funds available at the time of the final reimbursement request after the Dark Sky project has been completed.
In addition to the grant, residents and businesses can sign up for the Dark Sky Contest, which will recognize on-going Dark Sky projects. Up to 10 recipients will be selected as the properties that best embrace Dark Sky strategies. To sign up for the grant and/or contest, click on the link below:
DARK SKY GRANT PROGRAM & CONTEST SIGN-UP FORM
lf you have further questions, please contact EIC Staff Liaison Larry Mclntyre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-981-6245.
Dark Sky initiatives are based on the understanding that all life on Earth has evolved over billions of years relying on a circadian rhythm, a daily cycle of light and dark to govern life-sustaining behaviors such as reproduction, nourishment, sleep and protection from predators. Scientific evidence suggests that artificial light at night can have a negative effect on the world’s ecosystems. However, there are a variety of additional reasons to embrace a Dark Sky initiative.
One of the easiest to understand benefits of a Dark Sky initiative is aesthetics. Simply put, light pollution prevents people from seeing the natural beauty of our nighttime skies. Dark Sky embraces that idea that people have a right to enjoy the stars in the nighttime sky.
Outdoor lighting is intended to enhance safety and security at night, but too much lighting may actually have the opposite effect. Visibility should always be the goal. Glare from bright, unshielded lights may reduce overall visibility and restrict our ability to see an entire area clearly.
It is estimated that 30% of all nighttime lighting is wasted in the form of having lights that are too bright or overlighting areas unnecessarily by not having proper shielding. This results in citizens wasting billions of dollars while creating millions of tons of unnecessary carbon dioxide to power this extra light output.
There are three main factors that citizens can address to improve night time lighting aesthetics, environmental impact, safety, and costs - BRIGHTNESS, SHIELDING & COLOR TEMPERATURE.
Because LED lights use less energy than incandescent and fluorescent lights, lighting selections are often made that produce a brightness well beyond what is needed. Bright lights do not necessarily translate into improved safety and may cause glare, making it difficult to see the area intended to be lit. It is recommended that bulbs be selected with a wattage not more than 60W. 40W is preferred (LED equivalent wattage of 5W – 9W).
Dark Sky-compliant fixtures include shielding that focuses light in a downward direction and prevents light from being emitted in an upward direction, or out toward neighboring properties. Shielding also allows for the opportunity to light only intended areas rather than spreading light beyond the intended area.
Many LED lights shine at a color temperature that negatively affects humans, animals, and pollinators. Blue light (often marked as daylight or cool white) affects our circadian rhythm and can be damaging to the human eye. It is recommended that lights that produce a color temperature of 3000K or less (typically marked as soft-white or warm-white) are ideal for producing the desired effect of providing light while not over-illuminating a specific area.
Additionally, technologies such as motion sensors, dimmers, and timers allow for outdoor lights to only be used when needed, saving money, benefiting our environment, and preserving citizens’ view of the night sky.
The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) is committed to the idea that a night sky, filled with stars, should be celebrated and protected. IDA strives to accomplish this by providing leadership, tools, and resources for individuals, policymakers, and industry. IDA strives to reduce light pollution and promote responsible outdoor lighting that is beautiful, healthy, and functional. For more information, visit the IDA website at darksky.org.