As many of you will have noticed by now, we proudly launched our brand-new environmental light impact assessment service earlier this year. When I decided I wanted to expand my interest in lighting, Miller Goodall was happy to support me and funded me to complete a Diploma in Exterior Lighting. Since then, we have become members of the Institution of Lighting Professionals and have begun taking on lighting projects, which are going very well so far.

I want to give you an idea of how we prepare the lighting designs and assessments, to give you a little bit of an insight into what goes into the reports we write. Also, with new disciplines comes shiny new software and we will be showcasing that in this blog; we now have not one, but three unique modeling packages! CadnaA for acoustics, ADMS-Roads for air quality and Lighting Reality for lighting.

The Lighting Reality software package offers 2D & 3D modeling real-time calculations to predict lighting levels and it’s estimated that it is used by as much as 97% of the lighting industry. This software allows us to calculate the lighting levels required for the intended use and prepare a lighting design– it is invaluable for planning submissions! The package has two aspects; Reality Outdoor and Reality Roadway. We use Outdoor to model exterior areas, such as car parks, and Roadway to model road routes.

The first thing we do is add the intended layout into the software, which must be in a suitable .dwg or .dxf format. We also have AutoCAD LT if we need to make any adjustments to the drawing. This gives us the stepping stone to start designing the lighting installation!

The software allows us to add lighting equipment and columns to the desired areas of the design. Reality Outdoors comes pre-packaged with products to choose from, most being market leaders and trusted manufacturers. We can use these, or if we have prefer or need other products, we can download these from the company websites. This means that the software can be used for a host of different applications, from standard floodlights or streetlights to wall lights, bollards and amenity/decorative landscaped areas.

Once we have selected a product, we can now add it to the design and set it to the needs of the project – column heights, positions etc. The software is able to calculate in real-time as the design is created and altered. The term we use to describe a specific lighting product is ‘luminaire’.

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When we add the luminaire to the design, we are offered several options, including column height, outreach (how far the luminaires extend outward from the pole) and tilt (the angle of the light fixture). Tilt spreads the light further, but it is one of the main causes in the creation of light spill and obtrusive light/pollution both outwards and upwards into the sky.

An interesting feature of the software is that it shows us polar plots – these are illustrations of how the luminaire will distribute the light. These are often a key aspect of the design as careful selection can provide useful mitigation and placement options if there are surrounding sensitive uses to cater for.

Once we have created the design, we can then conclude whether we are meeting the relevant lighting standards – typically taken from relevant British Standard documentation.

An illuminance (lux) contour plot is often required to accompany a planning submission. This shows the light spill (i.e. unwanted light pollution) beyond the area to be lit. As lighting designers, we have to ensure that lighting beyond the task area is limited as much as possible, to avoid impacts to humans, ecology and the environment. The lighting software allows these contour plots to be produced in various styles, formatting and designs to suit the need. Various mitigation can be used to limit light spill, such as physical shields to stop the light, but where possible the design should use appropriate lighting products, optics and column heights which all have a valuable role in reducing light spill during the actual designing process.

Horizontal Light Spill

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Vertical Light Spill

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… And there we have it. An introduction to our software, how we use it and its capabilities. I hope this gave you a little insight into what we do as lighting consultants, we do also have a dedicated page to this service on our website, which you can check out here. If you are in need of a lighting impact assessment then please get in touch, our email for all inquiries is