Pittsburgh enacts measure focusing on mild air pollution to change into ‘darkish sky’ metropolis

Pittsburgh determined it needs extra darkness, however the metropolis is not turning out the lights — it is simply turning them down.

The Metropolis Council voted final month to cut back Pittsburgh’s mild air pollution and change into “darkish sky compliant,” primarily based on requirements outlined by the Worldwide Darkish-Sky Affiliation, via using extra motion-sensor lighting, decrease temperature bulbs, and lightweight shielding round city.

Town will progressively change bulbs outdoors its amenities, parks, and playgrounds, as nicely these outdoors any privately operated companies on metropolis land, such because the zoo and the aquarium. It should additionally change the bulbs of Pittsburgh’s roughly 35,000 streetlights, a course of anticipated to take one to 2 years to finish.


“What they wish to do is lead by instance. So present individuals that is the way you do it, and there is nothing to be afraid of. We’re not making an attempt to darken the whole metropolis,” mentioned Diane Turnshek, who has been consulting town on the challenge. “We’re simply making it secure and deliberately lighting the place we wish to mild, the place we want lighting, and ensuring the lights are shielded so they do not go up.”

Turnshek, who’s particular college in Carnegie Mellon College’s physics division, has been engaged on mild air pollution mitigation for a decade. Her background is in astronomy, so she has a transparent private curiosity in higher seeing the celebs.

The case for much less mild is layered, although. It should save town tens of millions in electrical energy prices, however it’s additionally higher for well being and security, Turnshek mentioned.

Pittsburgh at night
Pittsburgh night time mild air pollution


“The blue bounces round in your eyes extra. It simply is disorienting,” she mentioned. “So it is dangerous for pedestrians and drivers when there’s simply an excessive amount of mild happening.”

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“You do not should be portray footage for what you might be doing, strolling, and driving round,” Turnshek mentioned. “You’ve got headlights.”

Turnshek additionally mentioned darkish sky takes a way more “considerate” strategy to lighting.

“We’re not making an attempt to make it in order that every thing is darkish on a regular basis. However while you’re finished, flip the lights off,” she mentioned. “Lots of people use [home] safety lights, however they’re actually not safety lights. They only mild up their yard as a result of they’re afraid. Whereas in the event that they use movement sensors, they’d be so significantly better off. Then they’d know when somebody was on the market.”

Getting there’ll simply take time, however it’s not on account of pushback from the general public. Using brilliant lighting is simply how issues have at all times been, Turnshek mentioned.

“No person has ever mentioned, ‘I like my like air pollution. You may’t steal that away from me,'” she mentioned. “Lighting has at all times meant celebration and progress and wealth. It is simply constructed into our tradition.”

Town expects contracts for the brand new bulbs and different supplies to be signed and for the primary new lights to go up by the top of the yr.

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