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Illuminating the external and perimeter of public buildings should be designed for both amenity and safety. Additionally, good illumination creates a welcoming ambiance and provides clear visual cues to external signage, thoroughfares, and community facilities.

To enhance accessibility, light levels should be suitable for the application, with careful attention to maintaining consistent lighting during transitions between areas. Sudden changes in light levels or illumination characteristics can be disconcerting and disorienting, particularly for individuals with visual impairments.

Lighting with a directional component can add welcome definition to a scene. However, it is crucial to ensure that any highlighting or spotlighting is done peripherally and sensitively to avoid causing difficulties for individuals with visual impairments.

In many situations, lighting is fully exposed to the elements, necessitating high IP-rated luminaires. Thus, it is crucial that the lighting is particularly robust and requires minimal maintenance. Additionally, to ensure longevity and minimise costs, the external finishes of luminaires should be highly resistant to degradation.

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Different standards may be referenced dependant on the precise nature of the approach to a public building. This includes BS EN 12464-2:2014 for general outdoor areas including car park spaces and BS 5489-1 Code of Practice for the Design of Road Lighting Part 1: Lighting of Roads and Public Amenity Areas.

Codes of practice will generally specify values of horizontal illuminance. It should be noted that light on horizontal planes is a poor  predictor of the impression of brightness perceived by users of the area.

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