Although I’m an interior designer, I frequently select exterior items for clients including roofing, siding, doors, decking and exterior lighting. An important category for exterior lighting, especially in areas that are home to wildlife such as sea turtles, is “dark sky” compliant or “wildlife friendly” lighting.
I spend a fair amount of time on Sanibel Island, Florida, to work on design projects. On Sanibel, the night sky is very dark and stars are beautifully visible. This has increased my appreciation for dark sky compliant lighting. Parking lot lighting and street lighting at night in urban and suburban areas really washes out the night sky and diminishes the appearance of stars and planets. The stars on Sanibel are awe inspiring, partly because of low levels of artificial light.
In certain areas, exterior lighting must comply with guidelines or regulations to protect wildlife such as sea turtles. In fact, the beach right down the street from the Sanibel home/office is home to several sea turtle nests. The turtles’ nesting season lasts from May to October. Baby turtles hatch when the moon is bright, and then make their way to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where the moonlight reflects off the ocean. Artificial light near beaches can disorient hatchlings and cause exhaustion or dehydration, or expose them to predators. It’s imperative that no lights from beachfront homes, or from houses further away from the beach, shine towards the beach. On Sanibel, year-round local guidelines prohibit both exterior and interior lights from illuminating the beach.
Luckily, there are plenty of great looking options for wildlife friendly or dark sky compliant lighting. Many major lighting brands carry good choices.