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Sustainability
Sustainable lighting: eco-centric vs human-centric
Timp de lectură: 4 minute

Two factors need to be taken into account when choosing urban lighting systems: energy consumption needs to be as low as possible to avoid overburdening municipal coffers and improve urban sustainability, while citizens also seek urban technologies that provide safety and are compatible with their day-to-day living needs.

 

Urban lighting can contribute to environmental and human well-being and, to achieve this goal, it is increasingly important to adopt an eco-centric and human-centric approach.

The prevalence of environmental over personal demands

Modern technologies for the use of light, gas and water have shifted their focus away from satisfying human needs towards safeguarding the planet in the face of increasing interest in the climate crisis and our need to curb consumption expenses. History has shown that an unchecked anthropocentric view can severely damage our world.

 

With regard to urban lighting, this has led to the realisation that lighting streets at night time to allow 24-hour activity is now excessive. This can often prove a threat to biodiversity, and recent research shows that the evolution of many animals has been compromised by artificial lighting.

 

Environmentally sustainable lighting must go beyond concern merely for reducing consumption and for human needs, to considering the needs of animals and plants, in order to contribute to biodiversity as well as our own well-being.

Human street lighting requirements

Lighting management also involves safety considerations. Many people travel at night, and well-lit roads save lives. Visibility must always be optimal for vehicles, to ensure a clear view of the road and any obstacles. Light also allows people to come together. People go out, socialise and shop during daylight hours, and tend to spend time relaxing at home at night. Businesses close earlier in winter in Northern Europe, and fewer people go out after dark.

 

Street lighting recreates daytime conditions, allowing people to spend more time outside for business and social activities. However, although light enhances socialisation, it can also generate considerable light pollution when poorly managed.

Eco-centric lighting vs human-centric lighting: is there a middle ground?

Modern cities need constant lighting, which makes it increasingly important to consider the well-being of the environment, flora and fauna.

 

Some 80% of the animals living in or near our cities are nocturnal, and lighting can impair their hunting and survival. However, modern humans are also active at night, for leisure but mostly for work.

 

Fortunately, we now have solutions that embrace both an eco-centric and a human-centric approach. Smart lighting systems switch on and off when sensors detect a passing vehicle or pedestrian. This technology ensures total darkness on nights with low traffic, which reduces unnecessary electricity consumption.

Other urban lighting management solutions include the increasingly frequent and consolidated use of LEDs to reduce energy consumption, and the ability to select a colour and intensity offering optimal visibility at night.

Eco-friendly lighting: the characteristics of LEDs

The colour, direction, spectrum and intensity of LED lighting is also worth considering. Lighting designers must carefully assess the features of the terrain and identify which lamps have the least impact on the ecosystem, in order to install sustainable lighting systems that offer the best functionality and performance but do not disturb nocturnal animals.

 

It is therefore important to choose a lighting system with good direction to avoid upward light wastage, dimmable lamps to avoid excess lighting in daylight hours and warm-white lights, which have the least impact on biodiversity.

 

The new trend is to install systems that can be easily dismantled as this facilitates inspection, and allows for replacements with increasingly efficient components. 

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