Netherlands town installs bat-friendly LED streetlights


Tuesday, 05 June, 2018

Netherlands town installs bat-friendly LED streetlights

Rare bats in Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, in the Netherlands, can now go about their nocturnal business undisturbed thanks to new connected LED streetlights designed specially to emit light that does not affect their natural senses and rhythms.

The installation, by Signify, uses a special light recipe that is perceived by bats as darkness, yet which provides enough illumination for residents while also being energy efficient.

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop is home to many rare and vulnerable animal and plant specs. The town and its surrounding area is part of Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas across Europe comprising breeding and nesting sites for rare and threatened species. In 2011, Nieuwkoop embarked on an initiative to build 89 new houses that meet the highest sustainability standards. The innovative street lighting was a response to research into the flora and fauna that revealed the site to be an important feeding ground for some rare bat species.

"Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED streetlights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat. We've managed to do this and kept our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum," said Guus Elkhuizen, City Councel Member at Nieuwkoop municipality.

So as not to disturb the nocturnal feeding and nighttime activity of the bats, a special light recipe was developed that involved extensive research by Signify, the University of Wageningen and NGOs active in this field of conservation. The lights emit a red colour and use a wavelength that doesn't interfere with a bat's internal compass. Normal streetlights can affect a bat's flight and overall nighttime behaviour as well as their insect prey which tend to congregate around the lights.

To further optimise light levels, the municipality installed Signify's Interact City connected LED lighting systems and management software.

This lighting management system enables close to real-time, remote management of LED light points that together provide energy savings of up to 70% compared to conventional high-pressure sodium (HPS) street lighting. By being connected, the system allows each light point to be controlled remotely, enabling the authorities to respond to a request from a resident to turn up or lower the brightness of the lighting outside their home and able to quickly raise the light levels in the area to aid emergency services. And when the streets are empty late at night, the authorities can dim the lights and cut unnecessary energy use.

Image courtesy of Signify.

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