Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Wrap Up

A Solstice message from Laura Greenleaf, co-leader of the Virginia chapter of IDA sent to the mailing list. Like to get these occasional updates? Just send a request to

As the year comes to its close I want to let you know what the Virginia chapter of the International Dark Sky Association has been up to this year--or at least share some highlights of our volunteer work. We have been busy . . .
1) Reversing glare and light trespass on private property in Henrico County  We intervened successfully on behalf of residents whose home (outside and in) was lit up like a football field from a poorly designed and implemented LED installation at the new fire station next door. After months of effort including testimony to the Board of Supervisors and consultation from then IDA Executive Director Bob Parks, Henrico County officials reduced excessive illumination levels and switched fixtures to a "warmer" Color Correlated Temperature (five lamps were changed from 90 bulb 5,000Kelvin arrays to 30 bulb 3,000Kelvin arrays). This project has been a case study in the pitfalls of LED lighting when it is used carelessly and we learned so much in the process of analyzing the installation (with piles of county FOIA documents obtained by the home owner) and researching best practices.   We're so pleased to have made a tangibly positive difference with our advocacy (the "before" and "after" photos speak loudly). And IDA has two grateful new members.

2) Contributing to updated outdoor lighting guidelines in Richmond  Members of Richmond's Urban Design Committee sought our expertise as they began revising guidelines for outdoor lighting.  Our input has already made a difference in new applications.  The new guidelines will be finalized early next year.

3) Promoting best practices for LED lighting in Powhatan County The lessons learned in Henrico will benefit other communities.  Powhatan is already home to one of the strongest ordinances in the state, if not the best, but groundless corporate claims had prevailed when it came to limiting Color Correlated Temperature (CCT).  That's likely to  change soon now that IDA has issued their new Fixture Seal of Approval standards that include limiting harmful blue-white light emissions with a CCT maximum of 3,000Kelvin.

4) Supporting advocates from across Virginia  Throughout the year we were in touch with residents promoting wise use of outdoor lighting and/or fighting intrusive glare and light trespass at home from Louisa County to Loudoun County. We help in whatever way we can including guidance, our electronic library of resources, copies of books, etc.

5) Providing outreach and education In March I was the featured presenter and a panel member for an event focused on lighting and public safety that was part of Starry Nights Harrisonburg organized by The End of Night author and JMU professor Paul Bogard and JMU planetarium director Shanil Virani. 

2015 will begin with two more presentations--in Staunton and Williamsburg.  As a Virginia Master Naturalist, I am also assisting with development of a cultural/natural history education program that will focus on the experience of the night time environment in centuries past.

While Virginia IDA is not a stand-alone nonprofit and we do not accept donations, we are part of IDA and I encourage you to consider membershipIt's been a great year for IDA:  six more parks received eco-friendly lighting,13 more dark sky places were certified, Florida's sea turtles will soon benefit from increased protection, and public awareness continues to grow.  Please consider helping us strive toward the achievable goal of bringing back our view of the thousands of stars we erase with our wasted light (like at Mont-Megantic where light pollution levels are now back to what they were in the 1970s!).

with best wishes to you at this special time of year~


Laura Greenleaf
co-leader, Virginia chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association