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Dutch town installs bat-friendly lighting

Installation is part of an initiative in the town to build 89 new houses at the highest standards of sustainability

The special red lighting recipe illuminates the road for residents in the town
The special red lighting recipe illuminates the road for residents in the town

The town of Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop in the Netherlands has installed bat-friendly street lights.


The connected LED street lights, provided by Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), are designed specially to emit light that does not affect the natural senses and rhythms of rare bats species in the town.


Normal street lights can affect a bat’s flight patterns and overall night time behaviour, as well as the activity of their main insect prey which tend to congregate around the lights.


According to Signify, the lighting installation uses a special light ‘recipe’ that is perceived by bats as complete darkness. Yet it provides enough illumination for residents, helping to make the roads and pavements safer, while being highly energy-efficient and mitigating the impact on the bat population.


Developed by Signify, in collaboration with the University of Wageningen and additional NGOs active in this field of conservation, the new lights emit a red color and use a wavelength that doesn’t interfere with a bat’s internal compass.


Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop is home to many rare and vulnerable animal and plant species. The town and its surrounding area is part of the Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas across Europe comprised of breeding and nesting sites for rare and threatened species.


In 2011, Nieuwkoop embarked upon an initiative to build 89 new houses that meet the world’s highest sustainability standards. The innovative, new, bat-friendly street lighting was a response to research into the flora and fauna in the area 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 street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats,” said Guus Elkhuizen, city council member in the Nieuwkoop municipality.


“When developing our unique housing programme, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.”


To further optimise light levels, the municipality has installed Signify’s connected LED lighting system and management software, Interact City. This lighting system enables close to real-time, remote management of light points across a town or city that can provide energy savings of up to 70 per cent (compared to conventional high-pressure sodium (HPS) street lighting), the company claims.


By being connected, the system allows each light point to be controlled remotely, allowing authorities to respond to a request from a resident to turn up or lower the brightness of the lighting outside their home, or to quickly raise the light levels in an area to aid emergency services. And when the streets are empty late at night, the authorities can dim the lights to cut unnecessary energy use.


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