What a load of BS (British Standards)

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

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Since the first British Standards regarding street lighting were published in 1927, you could be forgiven for thinking the industry has been satisfied with accomplishing the bare minimum.

 We at DFL consistently and repeatedly challenge the notion that minimum is okay!

 We see the reality reflected in the continued problems with existing solutions – one design solves the problem of ‘too dim’ but then creates glare. The problem of light pollution affecting bat populations can be dealt with, but the area is then too dim. Travellers are appeased with brightly lit streets, but residents’ bedrooms are floodlit through the night!

 What’s the problem and what can be done?

 The latest British Standard BS 5489-1:2020 came into play in May 2020, with updates to reflect changes in Smart technology, efficient energy use, environmental factors and lighting urban areas (amongst others).

 Yet the same limiting factors apply. Without a real human-centric consideration of individual spaces and uses, combined with smart and efficient technological application, there will always be conflicts.

We want to challenge the norm, examine the lives (human and otherwise!) affected by lighting solutions and cater for each possibility that arises.

 Why do we light our streets at all?

  • To find our way in the dark
  • To prevent unwanted criminal behaviour
  • To create a pleasant environment

 We know from research that often the availability of street lighting doesn’t necessarily deter crime. People do.

 Yet people won’t gather where the light is not right! And that doesn’t mean BRIGHT. That means appropriate. That means a pleasant light that is appropriate to the use of the space.

 By definition, lighting to find our way in the dark means bright enough to see. But that doesn’t have to mean glare, or flood-lit.

 Is it possible to have all these requirements met at once, in the same space?

 Can we light a space well enough to see by, dim enough for the critters, yet warm enough to gather in? We believe you can!

 It means consideration though. And consultation. And research.

 We have the technology

Timers, sensors, colour change, sequencing, pre-programming, seasonal, daily, hourly or otherwise. It’s all possible. But we have to stop guessing and using the cheapest path of least resistance. If we take all users into account instead of those who shout loudest in any area (The residents group? The environmentalists?) we can find a solution that suits everyone all the time.

Of course, there will be compromises – pitch black is perfect for some, brightly lit for others. But when consultation is carried out in communities – with transparency and technology available for all to benefit from – solutions can be accepted as the best possible for all concerned.

 Imagine a space where the right light brings people together. Music is played and businesses can operate… where leisure meets commerce, and runners stop for a breather. Where children can play in winter months and families can be outside. And all this without negatively impacting the local flora and fauna.

 Will adhering to our British Standards create these solutions? Not alone. To create a sustainable, energy-efficient, value-for-money solution with the community at heart we need to go beyond the standards. We need to start with the bare minimum and work UP.

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