The Impact of Aesthetics
The other significant reason for enhancing exterior lighting is aesthetics. Lighting is an important part of attracting tenants to your property, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.
“You want to make sure your building appears open and inviting, like a community beacon,” says Ponzini.
If you’re trying to light an object with flood lighting, like a sign or flag, the amount of light you put on it has a nearly direct effect on how much attention it gets. You should look to provide a 10-to-1 ratio between how much light is on the sign vs. the surrounding area.
“At that relationship, it will definitely stand out and jump at you,” explains Gibson. “Anything less than that will hardly look like it’s lit higher.”
Lighting design doesn’t only have to be functional. Certain monuments and museums just want to add extra oomph to their facade. The Castle Museum in Saginaw, MI, recently installed exterior lighting because it previously had none, preventing it from attracting evening foot traffic. For more information on this project, see the case study at right.
“Our goal was not to update or modernize the look of the castle. We wanted to create awareness of the castle’s classic aesthetic,” says Ken Santa, president and CEO of the museum. “The lighting enhances the historic architecture and made it possible to view the building 24 hours a day.”
Think of this kind of exterior lighting as painting with light, says Gibson. You can make certain parts of your site pop.
“All skyline buildings try to accent certain pieces,” he explains. “If you highlight specific areas, it makes the visual experience much more rewarding than just having a flat floodlight blasting the whole building.”
The Importance of Controls
Don’t think of controls as another bothersome wrinkle in your system. They make your life easier by removing the guesswork of when to reduce and how much.
“Controls are becoming more prevalent. You can mistakenly think that they’re only feasible indoors, but they’re necessary for outdoors,” explains Ponzini. “In the past it was just dusk to dawn photo sensors and on or off, but it doesn’t have to literally be black or white. Sensors can respond and alter light levels based on time of day and motion.”
This often forgotten aspect yields several benefits, so it shouldn’t be dismissed or overlooked.
“With the burgeoning legislation requirements of energy savings and light pollution, the ability to control outdoor lighting is becoming a very important issue,” says Gibson. “You need to consider some type of sensor or timer.”
Because your system runs the risk of impeding on neighboring properties, you’ll want to include the ability to alter light levels manually. Many states have already enacted ordinances to combat light pollution.
To learn more about how you can reduce your light trespass, visit the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) website at www.darksky.org.