Dutch Town Becomes First to Install Bat-friendly Red LED Street Lights

05 June 2018
A town in the Netherlands has installed red LED street lighting to help protect bats. Source: Signify

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, Netherlands, has become the first town in the world to install connected light emitting diode (LED) street lights designed specifically to emit light that doesn't affect bat’s natural sense or rhythms.

The street lights use a special light recipe that is perceived by bats as darkness, yet provide enough illumination for residents, helping make the roads and pavements safer, while being highly energy efficient.

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop is home to many rare and vulnerable animal and plant species with the surrounding area part of the Natura 2000, a network of nature protection areas across Europe comprising breeding and nesting sites for rare and threatened 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 at Nieuwkoop municipality. “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.”

The light recipe was developed by Signify, formerly Philips Lighting, the University of Wageningen and NGO’s active in the field of conservation. The LEDs emit a red color and use a wavelength that doesn’t interfere with a bat’s internal compass. Normal street lighting can affect a bat’s flight and overall night time behavior as well as their insect prey, which tend to congregate around the lights.

The town is using Signify’s Interact City connected LED lighting systems and software that enables close to real-time, remote management of LED lights that saves up to 70 percent in energy compared to traditional high pressure sodium (HPS) street lighting. Being connected allows municipalities 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. When the streets are empty late at night, authorities can dim the lights to cut unnecessary usage.

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