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General Astronomy >> Light Pollution

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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Has anyone taken the "green" approach?
      #5727605 - 03/12/13 08:18 AM

I have been wondering about this a few days ago and have been meaning to post the question here. Has anyone written to an "offensive" business concerning their lights and mentioned how much money they are wasting by leaving floodlights on all night long when nobody is at the business?

For example have you written to a business and said "I have noticed that even in the middle of night you have every light in the building on and floodlights in the parking lot. I am not going to pay your inflated prices knowing that my dollars at are being spent to pay your electric bill. I would rather the money go to the merchandise instead. If you are worried about security install motion lights and cameras rather than leave expensive floodlights on 24x7."

I am wondering if anyone has tried this with car dealerships, recreational facilities, plazas, furniture stores, and other common offenders? It might just work. At least offering to tell them to turn half the lights off or only the ones in front of the building might work.

I am also tempted to contact government institutions such as libraries, parks (which "close" after dark anyways), and other facilities where there is nobody there all night long but we pay their electric bill. It seems the "cut wasteful spending" approach might work there.

obin


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skinnyonce
super member
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Reged: 03/23/11

Loc: ohio
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5727615 - 03/12/13 08:28 AM

this a rant reply mind you so dont get all huffy when you read it

a. if they havent figured it out for themselves by now I doubt my telling them will work
b. as light's become more energy efficient people just dont mind leaving them on all the time,,
my neighborhood is lit up like an airport from a stupid apartment complex across the street,Im sure its included in the rent price,so the landlord doesnt have to actually pay for it and the tenants are to stupid to realize they are


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: skinnyonce]
      #5727734 - 03/12/13 09:46 AM

Quote:

this a rant reply mind you so dont get all huffy when you read it

a. if they havent figured it out for themselves by now I doubt my telling them will work
b. as light's become more energy efficient people just dont mind leaving them on all the time,,
my neighborhood is lit up like an airport from a stupid apartment complex across the street,Im sure its included in the rent price,so the landlord doesnt have to actually pay for it and the tenants are to stupid to realize they are




I fully agree with you on part "b" but with part "a" there is potential. Some people just haven't taken an honest look at how much they are spending. In some cases it is because of a previous manager that said "well electricity is cheap here in the year 1985 so leave the lights on" and nobody ever updated the policy.

It's worth a shot. You never know until you ask.

obin


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skinnyonce
super member
*****

Reged: 03/23/11

Loc: ohio
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5727844 - 03/12/13 10:45 AM

which area of the local government do I contact to get this problem addressed,

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George N
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/19/06

Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: skinnyonce]
      #5727936 - 03/12/13 11:36 AM

Well, we can note that Wal-Mart has made an effort to insure all parking lot lighting is full-cut-off. Any others out there?

However, most businesses see nighttime lighting as a form of advertizing and to some extent see themselves in a ‘lighting war’ to “out-bright the competition”. Someone on this forum has previously noted that at least one of the home improvement chains believes that extra bright parking lot lighting shows that they are “woman friendly” by doing “something about crime”. True or not, they believe the cost is a good investment with a public that equates lighting with crime reduction. Another post noted that a local hospital wanted extra-bright lighting so that people passing by on an Interstate highway would notice where they are. I don’t think these enterprises see closed-time lighting as a waste of money, and most of their leaders tend to poo-poo “green concerns”, if one can judge from the public stance of most Chambers of Commerce. They are not exactly the group that would be interested in hearing about “carbon footprint”, etc. They want *all* enviro regulation eliminated.


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: skinnyonce]
      #5728168 - 03/12/13 01:21 PM

Quote:

which area of the local government do I contact to get this problem addressed,




You should be able to find something concerning lighting ordinances in your local area. There's a lot of laws that people break and will continue to break because nobody calls them out on it. Chances are there's a lot of lighting ordinances in your town being broken by lots of people. You just need to look them up.

For instance in my town:
http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=10947&stateId=43&stat...

There is a section which basically says that light from your house can't spill onto someone else's property. MOST communities have a law like that.

obin


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: George N]
      #5728176 - 03/12/13 01:24 PM

Quote:

I don’t think these enterprises see closed-time lighting as a waste of money, and most of their leaders tend to poo-poo “green concerns”, if one can judge from the public stance of most Chambers of Commerce.




I don't doubt it at all. I just wonder in who's mind does leaving floodlights on when NOBODY is at work makes sense? At the very least motion sensitive lights are helpful for security. Lights on all the time are wasteful. At the very least if the buildings aimed the lights downwards and installed shades they wouldn't be so offensive.

obin


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Ron359
super member
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Reged: 04/21/08

Loc: -103 +39
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5728213 - 03/12/13 01:40 PM

In the late 90's the area I live in underwent a building boom. This is an unincorporated rural 'city' so no local city govt. but at the county level the county does have some lighting regs. A local community planning organization went after several of the new businesses that put very bright lights and signs up and got them to replace them with shielded cutoff lights in the parking lots or turn down the wattage on the signs. I don't think an individual letter would have been paid any heed. But the community organization had the clout of numbers and local leverage with businesses so they got it done. Since then, one of the 'strip malls' that was an offender has gone completely out of business leaving only their parking lot lights still on at night but at least they are shielded.

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magic612
Post Laureate
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: George N]
      #5728272 - 03/12/13 02:24 PM

Quote:

Well, we can note that Wal-Mart has made an effort to insure all parking lot lighting is full-cut-off. Any others out there?




I drove by a local Target a few months back and noticed that not only were all their lights full cut off, they weren't overly bright. I don't know if that was a local ordinance, as the entire shopping center seemed to have good lighting (as I recall - I don't go that way too often), or if it was Target moving towards better lighting (the Target I normally go to has 'bad' lighting).

I believe Walgreens is implementing more green-friendly and dark-sky friendly lighting as well.


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Dark Sky Scott
super member


Reged: 01/06/12

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: magic612]
      #5728364 - 03/12/13 03:11 PM

Yes, I have written letters pointing out the waste of unnecessary lights and have gotten results.

In one case it was a college that was lighting their roof. I politely pointed out that the lights did nothing for them at all except waste energy and dollars, all while unnecessarily brightening the night sky. I was *very* happy when they decided to permanently turn them off.


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StarStuff1
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Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: Dark Sky Scott]
      #5728523 - 03/12/13 04:28 PM

A town we are going to move to later this year happens to to be the oldest town in TN. It has lighting regulations that seem to be straight from the IDA book. Why? To let people see the night sky better? No, it is to keep the town looking "old" to draw in more tourists and maybe a movie making company again.

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teast
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/10/07

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: StarStuff1]
      #5728612 - 03/12/13 05:15 PM

I suspect that most businesses would respond to a "positive reinforcement" message. I'm hoping to get our local astronomy club to give out commendations to businesses that use full cutoff light fixtures and restrict the hours they are on.

I envision presenting a nice framed certificate to the owners on a night that you have some scopes available for people to see the moon or Jupiter or Saturn from the parking lot. Get the local community paper to cover it and play up the awarding of the certificate.

By making a big deal over how they're "doing it right" by saving energy, improving safety and preserving the night sky, I think the impact could be very helpful.

-Tom


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: teast]
      #5728889 - 03/12/13 07:56 PM

Tom, that sounds like a great idea! Rewarding, rather than condemning works well to encourage others to follow suit, especially if it's covered by a media source! Great advertising for the business, and a major plus for the fight against LP.

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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
*****

Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5729239 - 03/12/13 10:43 PM

The letter writing idea sounds great.
The "I'll take my business elsewhere" approach doesn't sound like it would cut it though.


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herrointment
Post Laureate
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Reged: 03/12/11

Loc: North of Hwy. 64
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: richard7]
      #5729291 - 03/12/13 11:03 PM

By the "green" approach I thought this thread was about offering bribes....which are very effective in certain cases I must add. Nothing gets folks attention quite like the "green".

On the topic at hand, Target is a fairly well run company and appears to try to do the right thing if they get some good feedback, publicity and actual cost savings out of their efforts.


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magic612
Post Laureate
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: teast]
      #5729992 - 03/13/13 09:55 AM

Quote:

I suspect that most businesses would respond to a "positive reinforcement" message. I'm hoping to get our local astronomy club to give out commendations to businesses that use full cutoff light fixtures and restrict the hours they are on.

I envision presenting a nice framed certificate to the owners on a night that you have some scopes available for people to see the moon or Jupiter or Saturn from the parking lot. Get the local community paper to cover it and play up the awarding of the certificate.

By making a big deal over how they're "doing it right" by saving energy, improving safety and preserving the night sky, I think the impact could be very helpful.

-Tom




THIS. We need to all be getting involved and do this.

(Tom, I sent you a PM by the way.) Anyone else interested in this, please PM me also.


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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: magic612]
      #5730285 - 03/13/13 12:41 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I suspect that most businesses would respond to a "positive reinforcement" message. I'm hoping to get our local astronomy club to give out commendations to businesses that use full cutoff light fixtures and restrict the hours they are on.

I envision presenting a nice framed certificate to the owners on a night that you have some scopes available for people to see the moon or Jupiter or Saturn from the parking lot. Get the local community paper to cover it and play up the awarding of the certificate.

By making a big deal over how they're "doing it right" by saving energy, improving safety and preserving the night sky, I think the impact could be very helpful.

-Tom




THIS. We need to all be getting involved and do this.

(Tom, I sent you a PM by the way.) Anyone else interested in this, please PM me also.




Just some ideas for you:

Create a local website which highlights the costs associated with running a high pressure sodium or mercury vapor lamp nonstop. Figure costs per kilowatt hour and then multiply by number of lights. If you do the rough math you'll see that a modest sized business can hire an extra hourly worker or two with that money.

Then construct a simple analysis that says "rather than hiring help certain businesses throw away this money by running lights which don't need to be on."

A simple "friend of the night sky" certificate could be made up for local businesses which help out in either shutting off lights or shielding them.

The key part is educating businesses that motion lights are MUCH cheaper to run and just as effective as well.

For what it's worth when people ask me "how do you afford all this stuff" when they look at my telescopes I tell them "easy... I don't leave my lights on when I'm not home."

obin


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magic612
Post Laureate
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5730326 - 03/13/13 01:06 PM

Quote:

Just some ideas for you:

Create a local website which highlights the costs associated with running a high pressure sodium or mercury vapor lamp nonstop. Figure costs per kilowatt hour and then multiply by number of lights. If you do the rough math you'll see that a modest sized business can hire an extra hourly worker or two with that money.

Then construct a simple analysis that says "rather than hiring help certain businesses throw away this money by running lights which don't need to be on."

A simple "friend of the night sky" certificate could be made up for local businesses which help out in either shutting off lights or shielding them.

The key part is educating businesses that motion lights are MUCH cheaper to run and just as effective as well.

For what it's worth when people ask me "how do you afford all this stuff" when they look at my telescopes I tell them "easy... I don't leave my lights on when I'm not home."

obin






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Dark Sky Scott
super member


Reged: 01/06/12

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: magic612]
      #5730912 - 03/13/13 06:58 PM

Wonderful! Saying thank you and offering public, positive acknowledgement of people/businesses doing a good job is a great thing to do.

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buddyjesus
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/07/10

Loc: Davison, Michigan
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: Dark Sky Scott]
      #5732453 - 03/14/13 03:47 PM

i like your letter since it recommends what to do to remedy your complaint in a reasonable way. They have an open time frame and can take it or leave it.

I like the idea of thanking companies who buy cut off lights, reduce wattage, or have motion activated lamps.

As an aside, in my area, all businesses pretty much leave one light on so the police can look inside the place of business if an alarm goes off. It is a high crime area.


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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
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Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5735727 - 03/16/13 09:14 AM

I've read somewhere that it's probably better to leave the lights off at night inside a business. The thinking is that if there is a thief inside he's most likely to be using a flashlight or turning the lights on which makes him more visible from outside.

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star drop
contra contrail
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Reged: 02/02/08

Loc: Snow Plop, WNY
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: richard7]
      #5735841 - 03/16/13 10:06 AM

Our local municipalities and schools don't seem to care about cutting costs on lighting. They just keep on line iteming lighting costs in every budget. The school even wanted to install heating coils under the sidewalk so that the grounds crew wouldn't have to shovel.

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obin robinson
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/25/12

Loc: League City, TX
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: richard7]
      #5737026 - 03/16/13 07:44 PM

Quote:

I've read somewhere that it's probably better to leave the lights off at night inside a business. The thinking is that if there is a thief inside he's most likely to be using a flashlight or turning the lights on which makes him more visible from outside.




True. What attracts more attention to a passerby: someone with a flashlight in a dark building or someone walking around in a lit building?

obin


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John Fitzgerald
In Focus
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Reged: 01/04/04

Loc: AR
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: obin robinson]
      #5749195 - 03/22/13 08:28 AM

The city here has passed some quite restrictive lighting ordinances, but does not do anything to enforce them. Totally toothless laws. Police say it is code enforcement's job, (it is code,not law) and code enforcement has no one working past 5 pm or before 8 am. They have to witness the violation, will not take the word of a citizen. There is a light in violation shining from a nearby business right on the back of my city house.

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richard7Moderator
Not Quite
*****

Reged: 11/02/07

Loc: Sacramento
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: John Fitzgerald]
      #5749324 - 03/22/13 09:51 AM

Quote:

The city here has passed some quite restrictive lighting ordinances, but does not do anything to enforce them. Totally toothless laws. Police say it is code enforcement's job, (it is code,not law) and code enforcement has no one working past 5 pm or before 8 am. They have to witness the violation, will not take the word of a citizen. There is a light in violation shining from a nearby business right on the back of my city house.




Will they accept pictures or video?


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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: Dark Sky Scott]
      #5749947 - 03/22/13 03:24 PM

Quote:


In one case it was a college that was lighting their roof. I politely pointed out that the lights did nothing for them at all except waste energy and dollars, all while unnecessarily brightening the night sky. I was *very* happy when they decided to permanently turn them off.




That's pretty cool. My neighbor put Ina whole bunch of side facing lights like a baseball park.. Facing me.. I can tell they are not CFL's or led. It is true that many people still don't know how much energy and cost lighting is to their bill. I'm kind of big on all that, solar panels, etc.. Just did my taxes and the accountant had me check 2012 electric bills for the home office deduction: mine was $194 for the whole year

Anyhow I've yet to talk with this neighbor.. He just put the lights up. I dont know him well. he doesnt seem that friendly and im not that good with people. They're not the standard kind do the light shades won't work.. I just have a good light shade setup.

But still.. Those stories inspire me.. I might write some letters!


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John Fitzgerald
In Focus
*****

Reged: 01/04/04

Loc: AR
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: richard7]
      #5754017 - 03/24/13 01:37 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The city here has passed some quite restrictive lighting ordinances, but does not do anything to enforce them. Totally toothless laws. Police say it is code enforcement's job, (it is code,not law) and code enforcement has no one working past 5 pm or before 8 am. They have to witness the violation, will not take the word of a citizen. There is a light in violation shining from a nearby business right on the back of my city house.




Will they accept pictures or video?




Probably not. It's a don't care situation. If you want anything done around here, you have to know the right people.


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magic612
Post Laureate
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Reged: 09/30/08

Loc: S. of Chicago's light dome
Re: Has anyone taken the "green" approach? new [Re: John Fitzgerald]
      #5759762 - 03/27/13 08:44 AM

If you create enough of a ruckus, politicians notice. Try talking to the various elected officials. Eventually you may find someone sympathetic to what you're proposing. Take pictures. Show them to them. Point out how it shines right in your house. Give them the info about light at night being linked to cancer, and sleeping disorders. Make a copy of the code, and highlight the section where it is mentioned.

If that doesn't work, go to the local newspaper (I know - not as many of them around as there used to be). If they won't do a story, write a letter to the editor. Or put up flyers in local businesses that have bulletin boards. Create a stir. Write it so that other people notice light trespass on THEIR property. Call on them to join you.

Politicians like it when everything is calm and orderly. If you create a stir, they will GET ON IT; it's the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" thing. Of course, you have to STAY on top of them, because once things die down, so does their inertia. But it just may light a fire under them to get something done.


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