Chicago’s city lights and skyline are iconic, but how are they affecting our everyday lives and the ecosystems around us?
According to UIC’s office of sustainability, there are several disadvantages to the many city lights we see every night. Below are a few that caught our eye:
• Research shows our natural body clock and circadian rhythms (and potentially our health) are affected by lights at night .
• Night lighting increases air pollution.
• Lighting that reflects upward not only lightens the night sky but is wasted energy. The International Dark Sky Association estimates we waste 22,000 gigawatt hours a year, which at 10 cents per kilowatt hour amounts to $2.2 billion annually.
• Populated areas have lost the ability to see and experience the wonder of our starry sky.
Chicago’s “Lights Out” programs serve as sustainable options for those looking to conserve energy and light. Within the “Lights Out” program, many tall buildings voluntarily turn off their office lights during migration, thereby minimizing collision danger as well as lessening the confusion factor to which birds and bats are prone. This is to say nothing of the energy savings and potential pollution that’s avoided.
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