Artificial Light at Night

In terms of obtaining the required environmental permits for major industrial projects, artificial light at night and night landscapes are growing concerns for both authorities and the public. Indeed, light pollution is one of today’s key challenges given that 60% of Europeans and 80% of North Americans can no longer see the Milky Way.

Since 2012, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), artificial light at night has been included as one of the environmental components subject to major project impact assessments. The vast majority of CEAA trigger projects must address factors that have an impact on the luminous environment. In Québec, the Bureau d’Audience Publique sur l’Environnement has become increasingly concerned about such visual impacts, particularly those that affect night landscapes.

WSP helps clients make informed decisions that preserve artificial light at night. We also provide advice throughout all project stages.

For safety purposes, industrial installations and sites must be constantly lit, as project operations often take place both day and night. Lighting (in traffic and work areas) increases the levels of artificial nocturnal light, potentially disrupting the luminous environment. These new light sources are likely to: modify sky quality; project intrusive light outside project area boundaries (to the detriment of neighbours, habitats and wildlife); and change night landscape visibility.

Whether you are a developer working on a mining project, a new wharf, a highway extension or building any form of construction that requires significant night lighting, WSP can help you identify your operational needs at the outset. We can assist you in developing lighting concepts that are composed of eco-friendly equipment, while ensuring adequate light levels in the right places and at the right time.

To best analyze a given project’s effects on artificial light at night, the WSP team has developed a customized (analyst-recognized) approach that illustrates current lighting conditions and identifies potential project-area challenges in terms of sky quality, intrusive light and night landscapes. Using this information, it is then possible to develop ecological lighting concepts for scheduled new works (in collaboration with the WSP team or with client support). This helps minimize project impacts on the natural and human environment.

We propose various measures to mitigate such impacts. Lighting concepts are photometrically modelled to estimate the contribution of these new light sources within the project area. Projects are optimized as needed. Ultimately, the magnitude of anticipated residual impacts can be analyzed. The WSP team’s field expertise began in the context of mining projects and now extends to a wider variety of projects, including those involving port facility development.

Our project team includes habitat and wildlife biologists, engineers who are specialized in lighting plan development, and computerized or natural background visual simulation experts.

*Sky Quality refers to starry sky visibility level.
*Intrusive Light refers to the light emitted beyond a property’s boundaries.
*Night Landscapes refers to surroundings that are directly visible to people living near light-emitting installations.


  • Baseline inventorying of current conditions, via field surveys
  • Collaborating in the analysis of lighting needs
  • Designing ecological lighting concepts
  • Conducting photometric simulations to validate the results of proposed lighting concepts
  • Presenting computerized visual renderings of new construction lighting
  • Evaluating project impacts on sky quality and intrusive light emissions in the human and biological environment (habitats and wildlife)
  • Photographing night landscapes
  • Conducting realistic visual simulations of new construction lighting, via night landscape photographs