Lighting Expert Slated to Air Dark Sky Issues at Meeting
• Engineer and Designer to Tell Planning n Panel about Model Lighting Ordinance
BY BILL KOENEKER
The Malibu Planning Commission has agreed to hear a presentation on night lighting from lighting expert Jim Benya at its meeting on Tuesday, February 4 at the end of the session.
Benya is a professional engineer and lighting designer and was one of the authors of the International Dark Sky Association/Illuminating Engineering Society Model Lighting Ordinance.
Benya is scheduled to speak on what other cities have done to address night lighting, as well as components of the model ordinance, according to the city’s public notice.
Benya has been a lighting designer for 39 years with experience in architectural lighting design, including daylighting, theatrical and performance lighting, urban streetscapes, light as art, zero net energy and building design, according to his biography.
He is the author of two books, “Lighting Design Basics” and “Retrofitting and Relighting.”
At a recent UC Davis conference, Benya spoke about the latest research in circadian science and implications for the growing field of sustainable design.
Benya agreed that the preservation of the night and of the day is very important to the maintenance of human health and well-being. An increasing lack of daylight during daytime hours and the growing prevalence of blue-rich light at night from glowing screens and other sources disrupts metabolic function, immune response, cognitive performance, even genetic expression, according to the experts.
Benya and others maintain the monetary and human costs of circadian desynchronization from lowered productivity and increased workplace accidents caused by fatigue can be linked to depressed melatonin levels and increased cancer risk.
Benya and his colleagues see this as a growing industry for his field, noting that lighting designers can be equipped with a body of research in photobiology that poses both challenges and opportunities to go beyond aesthetics and use their skills to enhance human health and function.
The possibilities, according to Benya and others, range from the simple to the technologically advanced, such as lowering wayfinding lights (so as to avoid exciting certain cells in the eyes that cue wakefulness) to creating dynamic fenestration technologies that integrate daylighting with electrical lighting, automatically adjusting brightness and color balance in harmony with circadian fluctuations.
The applications vary from helping patients reduce hospital stays to optimizing student learning to minimizing the photobiological impact of outdoor lighting to help restore ecosystems.