Greater City Providence

Will Eco-Green Kill Skyline Lighting?

Those of us urban enthusiasts whose hearts melt at the sight of a resplendently lit skyline have long harbored the fear that the “green” movement would become an excuse by anti-urbanists to kill the illumination of skyscrapers and other city buildings. That, one day in the not too distant future, people might find a lit RI Capitol dome or an Empire State Building decked out in holiday themed colors as Neanderthal as a full-sized Toyota Sequoia SUV filled with Wal-Mart shopping bags seems today. For green urban enthusiasts, the dilemma is a difficult one… Can the civic pride and tourism potential that a dramatically lit skyline brings justify its light pollution and energy inefficiency?

The New York Times attacks just this topic today in a great piece that is surprisingly upbeat. It suggests that companies will become hyper-green and hyper-cost conscious through a combination of energy saving devices (motion detectors) and new technologies to keep off office lights after hours. While this will result in darker mid-sections of towers at night as the lights wink off after workers leave, there apparently is a new increased emphasis by landlords on bringing attention to their buildings by dramatically lighting the crowns of their building and employing other accent lighting. This is seemingly happening through the use of new LEDs and other energy efficient lighting schemes that are allowing lighting designers to be more creative in how they light towers and brings up all kind of new potential for “theme” lighting for events and holidays. Lower energy use, eco-friendly technologies, and brighter and more creative skylines. Sounds like everyone can win!

Bret Ancowitz

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