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The original item was published from 7/21/2023 11:23:25 AM to 12/2/2023 12:00:02 AM.

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General Press Releases

Posted on: July 21, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Village of Westmont Offers Dark Sky Grant Opportunity

Dark Sky Contest - Grant - PNG

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: 

  1. PROMOTE the importance of reducing our carbon footprint by protecting dark skies and reducing light pollution
  2. IMPROVE the welfare and quality of life for all people and wildlife
  3. PROVIDE FUNDING for Dark Sky projects that meet grant criteria (while funds are available) 
  4. RECOGNIZE & REWARD residents & businesses for their support of our Dark Sky Initiative

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.

DARK SKY GRANT PROGRAM - INFORMATION & DETAILS

  • Must be a resident or business located within the geographic boundaries of the Village of Westmont
  • Grant intended for new Dark Sky home improvement projects started on or after July 7, 2023
  • Grants will NOT be awarded for past projects that have been completed
  • Applicants must complete and submit an online Dark Sky Grant application to be considered for the grant
  • Applications will be reviewed by the EIC and Village Staff to determine eligibility - after review, the Village will notify all applicants regarding the status of their application
  • Once a grant application has been approved, then the applicant must complete their Dark Sky project within 60 days of being notified and submit all necessary documentation including purchase receipts and a photo of the completed project to Village of Westmont Communications; upon fulfilling all grant requirements, the Village of Westmont will email the grant recipient an Amazon Gift Card in the amount of the approved grant award; Gift card amounts will range from $25 to $500 depending on the approved amount in the grant request
  • A total of $5,000 has been earmarked for the Dark Sky Grant Program - the program will continue through the end of 2023 or when grant funds have been exhausted
  • Only one grant, up to $500, will be awarded per physical address located in the Village of Westmont
  • Grants will not be awarded to any applicant related to a specific physical address who has already received funds from the Village of Westmont for the same project

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 communications@westmont.il.gov or 630-981-6245.


WHY DARK SKY

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.

AESTHETICS

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.

SAFETY

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.

COST

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.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

There are  three main factors that citizens can address to improve night time lighting aesthetics, environmental impact, safety, and costs - BRIGHTNESS, SHIELDING & COLOR TEMPERATURE.

BRIGHTNESS

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).  

SHIELDING

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.

COLOR TEMPERATURE

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.

ADDITIONAL DARK SKY STRATEGIES

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.

MORE DARK SKY INFORMATION

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.


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