Harmony is a Dark Sky Community
In 2009, Harmony was recognized by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as the world’s first Dark Sky Development of Distinction (press release). The Dark Sky Development of Distinction Award is a new award designated by IDA to promote subdivisions, master planned communities, and unincorporated townships whose planning actively promotes a more natural night sky. Such lighting not only promotes the viewing of the night sky, it also minimizes impact on wildlife populations.
We’re so proud of our Dark Sky efforts that each year we celebrate the natural night sky with a public Dark Sky Festival. This is an event that calls attention to the importance of protecting the night sky through educational presentations, telescope sky observing, music, games, food, exhibits and general fun held outdoors under the night sky. Take a glimpse at a recent Dark Sky Festivals.
How is Lighting Regulated in Harmony?
To the maximum extent possible, lighting should be low intensity and
conform to "dark sky" standards of downward projected, "full cut-off"
illumination that shields light from being emitted upwards toward the
night sky or surrounding natural areas (see figures below). To be full cut-off, the light bulb should not extend below the lamp shade.
Full cut-off fixtures function by reflecting the light that would normally be sent to the sky back down to the ground. In doing so, they can make the ground brighter, while using lower wattage light bulbs, therefore using far less power. For example, a 40 watt light bulb in a full cutoff fixture can be as effective as a 100 watt light bulb in a normal fixture.
Many people take comfort in bright outdoor "security" lighting and home improvement stores offer a number of choices to light up your neighborhood. Usually such lighting provides lighting that is way in excess of what's needed and may actually provide less safe conditions than if lower light levels were created. Watch the video: “Why Should We Protect the Night” to understand how lighting affects home security.
For many properties, a better solution for security lighting is to use a bulkhead or porch lights fitted with a low power 600-900 lumens (9/11w) compact fluorescent lamp. Most of Harmony's porches and original lighting fixtures are designed to do this. While such units can be left on for long periods and have low operating costs, your neighbors will appreciate it if you only turn them on as needed.
Residential lighting at Harmony is also shielded. Full cut-off lights, like the rightmost fixture in the picture below, improve visibility and save money. In a full cutoff the light bulb is recessed into the fixture to give optimal light direction.Outdoor fixtures are fully shielded or are recessed into porch ceilings to provide a soft welcoming glow at night. Alleys at the rear of houses are not lit, but use photo cell controlled garage lights on individual homes to provide lighting there.
The Osceola County School District has been a strong partner in Harmony’s lighting program, providing shields on its football stadium lights and controlling all outdoor lighting on both the Harmony High School and Harmony Community School campuses.
As landscape lighting usually creates wasted light and can interfere with plant flowering and even the activities of beneficial insects, it is not allowed in residential areas except in unusual, pre-approved circumstances.
Besides being cheap to run, compact fluorescent lamps are kinder to the environment providing a gentle wash of light with reduced glare. Bulkhead and porch lights cast fewer shadows reducing the hiding places for criminals. These units can be fitted with a movement detector if required. These units are generally mounted lower and are therefore less susceptible to nuisance switching and complaints from neighbors. Contact Harmony staff for help in selecting a replacement outdoor fixture.
Sports Fields: Lights at the Harmony High School football field have “eyebrow” shields to help direct light toward the playing field and not into the sky.
Home Lighting: Porch lights recessed into the ceiling provide a soft welcome for visitors and adequate light for porch use. The porch structure itself helps to shield neighbors from light trespass.
Street Lights: A full cut-off Harmony streetlight featured in a National Geographic article is fully shielded so that light is directed to the sidewalk and street below it.