Light symposium enlightens public on energy concerns

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Lewis University and ICROL present “Manmade Light at Night” public symposium

Published: March 15, 2010.

On March 11, the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting (ICROL) and Lewis University together presented a public symposium entitled “Manmade Light at Night: Perils and Promises.” The general theme among the speakers related to the importance of maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing waste. They see two of the main problems as being over illumination and unnecessary lighting.

While Brother James Gaffney, FSC, president of Lewis University, welcomed all participants, Dr. Jerry Kavouras, assistant professor of biology at Lewis University, gave an introduction to the symposium. Pete Strasser, technical director of the International Dark Sky Association, presented “The Environmental Consequences of Contemporary Lighting Practices.” followed by Dr. Mark Hammergren’s lecture called, “Light at Night’s Impact on Science and Culture.”

“The Road to Sustainable Lighting Practices,” was delivered by Drew Carhart, executive board member for the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting.” Throughout Carhart’s presentation, he stressed the importance of determining where, when and how much light is needed. Displaying photographs of the city of Chicago, Carhart illustrated how some light sources are inefficient and expensive.

When asked by one of his listeners about the effect of light on crime prevention, Carhart responded saying that no study has actually shown that well-lit areas have reduced crime. One audience member suggested motion lights as a solution to the worries that crime will occur in the dark. This way, light is not being wasted and there can still be a sense of security. According to Carhart, out of the 422,778 accidents that occurred on Illinois roads in 2007, 65 percent of them occurred during the daytime. Therefore, he hypothesizes that there is no direct correlation between light and crime or accidents. Rather, there are other factors making contributions to crime and accidents.

Director of Public Works for the City of Santa Rosa, California Rick Moshier, Homer Glen Village Trustee Margaret Sabo and Community Development Director Edmond Cage presented “Municipal Solutions for Fiscal and Environmental Responsibility” followed by a presentation on “Light at Night and Human Health” by Dr. Steven Lockley of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Kate Tomford, director of sustainability from the Office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, gave closing remarks to conclude the symposium.

Exhibitors included the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, Chicago Wilderness, City of Santa Rosa, California, Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, International Dark Sky Association, Kankakee Area Stargazers, Let There Be Night, Lewis University, Naperville Astronomical Association, Village of Homer Glen, Illinois and the Will County Audubon Society.

The symposium was sponsored by: International Dark-Sky Association, Illinois Audubon Society, Will County Audubon Society, Naperville Astronomical Association, Oak Group and Illinois Nature Fund. The Kankakee Area Stargazers were a symposium donor.

The Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting is a not-for-profit group of Illinois citizens who share a commitment to work toward the reduction of wasteful lighting practices within Illinois. ICROL raises public awareness, serves as a resource for homeowners, business owners and municipalities, works for the implementation for responsible standards and promotes the adoption of state-wide policies. For additional information, please visit

A Catholic university sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis offers nearly 80 undergraduate majors and programs of study, accelerated degree completion options for working adults, various aviation programs and 22 graduate programs in nine fields. The ninth largest private, not-for-profit university in Illinois is being honored for the sixth consecutive year by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.

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