Outdoor Sports lighting

Good lighting is integral when playing sport or exercising – especially in the darker months of the year. From outdoor sports facilities to indoor leisure centres, we find out the best practices for lighting these types of environments from professionals in the field

The topic of ‘Sports lighting’ as a header for offering comment, covers such a wide array of applications and locations, some inside and some outside, from those areas located at the different levels of educational establishments, through general adult facilities, all the way to those used professionally by competitors involved with the various sports. When it comes to arenas and venues which have televised events, this opens a whole new area of design criteria.

In many cases, these various applications will require a different approach and a different solution, even being different for the same sport when played indoor to being played outdoor, with different considerations for illumination level, lamp colour and any issues with glare and so as to limit the content of this comment, let’s consider an overview of the outdoor lighting application.

When it comes to outdoor sports lighting, the requirement for lighting solution is much more than just illuminating the horizontal space at floor level on which the sport is being played.

For many lighting applications, the process starts with discussing the proposal with the local authority about submitting a planning application for the illumination of the sports facility. This will require a designed solution, which provides a plan of the area to be illuminated, the type, position and height of columns, the specification of all luminaires, their type, its light distribution pattern, orientation, and inclination as well as the number of floodlights per column. Then to provide the resultant illumination level being achieved on the playing area and what light spill there is to the area surrounding the facility as well as whether there will be the possibility of upward spill light causing skyglow into the night sky. If the location of the facility is within or close to a residential area, the local authority will be keen to request information of any light trespass into the surrounding private properties and the times for which the lighting is deemed to be used throughout the year. Other considerations, relevant to the location relate to the proximity of the facility to any roads and whether the lighting would cause issue with light spill onto public roads and whether the light beam would be a potential issue regarding glare towards drivers of vehicles passing the venue. Finally, if the sports facility is located within the countryside, where lighting is restricted due to the location or is close to an area of outstanding beauty, then additional requirements may be imposed and placed within the planning applications prior to its approval.

Having gained the approval of the planning application, one final point for the designer is to consider the geographical location as to any detrimental weather conditions which may be experienced or if in a coastal location, whether or not the proposed equipment will provide the longevity of use within such arduous locations.

Before commencing any work on the application, a further point to consider is that, in some cases, the proposed lighting equipment, regarding its current capacity and power consumption may be greater than the electrical supply available on site. This may result in either the lighting solution being amended to meet the capacity, or the client making an application to gain a larger supply for the proposed lighting solution, which may require an amended planning application to be submitted to the appropriate local authority.

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