David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The City of Melbourne has developed and is implementing an 'enlightened' approach to modern lighting by combining intelligent design, placement and light usage to achieve energy savings, greenhouse gas reductions and better lighting results.

TARGET DATE: July 2002 PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: The City of Melbourne Lighting Strategy is the policy and operational document that, in its own words, 'provides for the responsible use of energy to enhance people's experience of the city after dark.'

Lighting Strategy adopted by Council. Implementation of the Strategy is over a five year period to 2006, and is ongoing.

The City of Melbourne Lighting Strategy was completed while I was chair of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee. A Lighting Strategy was called for in the 1999 City Plan and further crystallised form a Notice of Motion I put in November 1999 seeking our lighting to comply with the then existing Australian Standards.

The City of Melbourne Lighting Strategy is available for download in rich text format or in pdf from the MCC website at www.melbourne.vic.gov.au. An extract of the Executive Summary of the Lighting Strategy is below:

Origin and Justification
The Lighting Strategy is an outcome of City Plan 1999. Clause 5.1.6 of this document calls for a comprehensive and integrated urban Lighting Strategy for all streets. In turn, this objective is part of a broader commitment to make Melbourne an even more liveable and attractive city.

Scope and Purpose
The primary objective of the Lighting Strategy is to improve the quality, consistency and efficiency of night lighting in streets and other public spaces. In general terms, the strategy aims for responsible use of energy to enhance people’s experience of the city after dark.

The strategy promotes improvements to safety and amenity, especially for pedestrians. In doing this, the strategy recognises that people’s sense of well-being results from a complex amalgam of factors. At night, these include way-finding and visual comfort, as well as road safety and personal security. However, the Lighting Strategy recognises that brighter is not always better, as far as outdoor lighting is concerned. Over-lighting buildings or spaces dilutes dramatic effects, contributes to "skyglow" and creates other forms of nuisance. For these reasons, many of the strategies aim to limit the extent or intensity of external illumination.

The Lighting Strategy acknowledges Melbourne’s characteristic brand of urban design. This has produced a public realm that is simple and low-key, but also elegant and clearly structured. Accordingly, the strategy emphasises good "functional" lighting rather than elaborate decorative installations or ostentatious special effects. This approach is also consistent with the City’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

The Lighting Strategy consolidates the experience gained from a decade of successful public lighting projects in the City of Melbourne. The document provides direction for public and private external lighting throughout the municipality. It covers a full range of outdoor illumination, from streetlights to lighting on individual sites and buildings. However, the strategy’s primary focus is on areas intended for public use and access.

The document defines issues, identifies objectives, and helps to set priorities for lighting initiatives until the 2005/2006 financial year. It helps to brief designers, but it does not prescribe outcomes. Performance standards and detailed applications remain to be addressed as part of technical notes, implementation plans and specific project proposals.

The Lighting Strategy augments existing codes of practice for outdoor illumination, including all relevant Australian Standards.

Core Strategies
The contents of the Lighting Strategy are interconnected, and the document should be read and applied as a whole. However, four crucial initiatives underpin most other objectives. These "core" strategies are Grids and Lux, White Nights, Thrills and Spills and Glowing Greener. In addition, a collection of individual strategies, particularly those grouped under the heading of Safety and Amenity, encourages upgrades and extensions to the public lighting system.

1. Grids and Lux calls for a limited range of streetlights to be used throughout the municipality. All designs conform to a standard City of Melbourne style. However, each model is matched to a particular location such as a tram route, a shopping strip or a street within the Hoddle Grid. In this way, standard light fittings add cohesion to Melbourne’s streetscapes, and help to articulate a hierarchy of major and minor routes.

2. White Nights describes progressive conversion of the city’s streetlights to "white" metal halide lamps. White light performs better than either "yellow" light, produced by high pressure sodium lamps, or the "greenish" light, produced from mercury vapour lamps. White light reveals natural colours, and allows more accurate perception of size and shape. These attributes increase visual comfort, and enhance people’s sense of personal safety. The Lighting Strategy recommends that modern "full cut-off" lanterns be introduced, along with metal halide technology. These fittings reduce glare and substantially diminish the upward light "spill" that causes "skyglow".

3. Thrills and Spills addresses the nuisance caused by intrusive outdoor illumination and "stray" light. Throughout the document, individual strategies aim to limit decorative illumination, avoid uplighting and target feature lighting more precisely so that "light pollution" is minimised. Thrills and Spills goes further. It suggests that these factors are explicitly included in the City’s development approval process.

4. Glowing Greener promotes efficient technology, responsible management practices and other forms of energy conservation. This group of strategies also recommends running part of Melbourne’s public lighting system on "green" power from renewable sources. No specific target is set. However, the Lighting Strategy endorses provisions in the Sustainable Energy and Greenhouse Action Strategy, approved by Council in March 2000.

As a whole, the Lighting Strategy promotes selective extensions and improvements to Melbourne’s public lighting system. Recommended outcomes include better illumination along waterways, within parks and throughout neighbourhood shopping precincts. Special emphasis is given to upgrading lighting at the edges of streets, where most people walk. In addition, the strategy advocates better visibility within ancillary spaces along major streets. These tributary spaces include lanes, car parks, forecourts and recessed building entrances.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Barry Clark deserves acknowledgement for the extensive unpaid work he provided towards pursuing high standards in the development of the Melbourne City Council lighting strategy.

14 April 2002: Dr. Barry Clark, who has done a great deal of work for the community on the problems of waste and nuisance lighting has passed on an interesting article from the New England law Review on light pollution in the United States. The citation is: Ploetz, K. M. (2002) Notes: Light pollution in the United States: An overview of the inadequacies of the common law and state and local regulation. New England Law Review, 36(4), 985-1039. A copy of the article will be available in hard copy at most law libraries.

A 2000 MCC Media Release describes progress of the Lighting Strategy.

New Technology Improves City Lighting

The City of Melbourne will use the latest lighting technology to improve public safety and reduce energy consumption under plans adopted at last night's meeting of the Environment, Community and Cultural Development Committee.

The City of Melbourne $8.7 million Lighting Strategy will make the city lighter and brighter but use less energy and result in long term cost savings for the city over the next five years.

Key recommendations of the strategy are to:
* Change all City lighting from the current yellow (sodium) and blue (mercury vapour) lighting to "white light" which will be more effective lighting and reduce glare
* More after-hours illumination of shop windows to enhance city safety and vitality in retail areas, while limiting the duration of feature lighting and promotional displays
* Change the emphasis of lighting from street lighting for cars to include consideration of pedestrians
* Reduce Skyglow by 40% to improve the visibility of the night sky and reduce the city's contribution to light "pollution" of the night sky
* Limit the City's use of energy by using more effective, energy efficient methods
* Investigate the relationship between lighting, energy consumption and personal safety.

Environment Committee Chair, Cr David Risstrom, said that the advances in lighting technology meant that the city at night could be made to feel just like the city during the day.

"Present lighting has been predominantly developed with the safety of cars in mind. Under the lighting strategy we will create a new system for the city that will look after the interests and safety of pedestrians and motorists, highlight our major city features and show off Melbourne as a centrepiece of our State. "As well, the strategy commits us to a ten year program of energy saving which will see an annual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions," Cr Risstrom said. "The Lighting Strategy is an example of how this Council is making Melbourne a Sustainable City by using our policy-making powers to improve the environmental quality of the City."


Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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