INFORMATION ON THE CONTROL OF LIGHT POLLUTION
IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS
The Clean Air Protection and Amendment of Some Other
Acts (the Clean Air Act), 14 February 2002, made the Czech Republic
the first Parliament to enact national legislation to tackle light
This Act regulates measures which will lead to a
reduction of light pollution of the air. Light pollution is defined
as "any form of illumination by artificial light, which is
dispersed outside the areas to which intended, particularly in
cases when directed over the horizon level."
The Act affects anybody whose activities are performed
within premises and places specified by the implementation regulations.
These persons shall be obliged to perform the orders of the relevant
municipal authority, and in compliance with it, to take measures
to prevent the occurrence of lighting pollution of air. The Act
does not specify how the pollution is to be measured or prevented,
but leaves this to the judgment of local authorities.
Under the Act, the municipal authority issues regulations,
specifies measures or obligations for the prevention or mitigation
of light pollution occurrence. The authority then has to ensure
adherence to these measures and is empowered to impose fines for
any failure to meet these obligations. Fines can be from CZK 500
to CZK 150,000, and may be imposed by the municipal authorities
upon a person, who is in breach of at least one of the obligations
laid down by an authority.
An amendment to this Act will be considered in the
autumn of 2003 by the Czech Parliament. It is intended to provide
further guidance to local authorities on the means by which pollution
should be prevented and measured.
The Light Pollution Act enforced in the regional
territory of Lombardy was passed in March 2000. It aimed to reduce
light pollution, the energy consumptions deriving from it and
to protect the activities of both professional astronomical observatories
and observatories carrying out scientific work or the popularisation
of astronomy. All installations of artificial outdoor lighting
must conform with the anti-light pollution rules within time limits
or face administrative endorsements of up to 1050 euros. A lighting
system was considered light polluting if light was dispersed outside
the areas to which it was functionally dedicated and if directed
above the line of the horizon. The municipal authorities were
made responsible for ensuring that the Act was complied with.
Authorities were required to adopt lighting plans within three
years of the legislation, and to guarantee the plans application
and observation. Control of lighting by the authorities included
measurement of luminance. The manufacturers, importers and suppliers
of lighting products were made responsible for ensuring that products
conformed with the law, and that recommendations were provided
with the product to ensure correct positioning and use.
Other Italian regions have also enforced similar
legislation. Seven proposals for legislation at national level
have been submitted to the Italian Parliament between 1996 and
2001, but to date none have been approved.
United States of America
Several states, and many municipalities, have adopted
legislation designed to limit light pollution from streetlights
and other fixtures. Among the rationales for such measures has
been energy conservation, the reduction of glare and its resulting
traffic hazards, and a desire to allow people a better view of
the night sky.
The law requires that a roadway lighting system funded
by the state (1) be designed to maximise energy conservation and
minimise glare and light spilling onto adjoining properties and
(2) provide the minimum amount of lighting needed for its purpose.
State funds can be used only if the Department of Transportation
determines that the lighting needs cannot be met by other means
such as reducing the speed limit in the area or installing passive
lighting. The latter approach includes reflectorized roadway markings,
lines, warnings, and informational signs.
Lights with a capacity of 1,800 lumens (the light
produced by a 125 watt bulb) or more on the states secondary and
special service highways must be designed to prevent light going
above the lamp, (i.e., be equipped with a full cut-off luminaire).
This requirement does not apply if it would compromise the highways
safety, increase the lighting's cost, or violate federal law.
The transportation commissioner can waive the requirement
if he determines it is necessary. Waiver requests must describe
the lighting plan and the efforts the applicant has made to comply
with the requirement and include other information the commissioner
requires. In reviewing the request, the commissioner must consider
design safety, costs, and other factors he considers appropriate.
These provisions do not apply if the Office of Policy
and Management (1) analyses the lifetime cost of fixtures that
meet these requirements and fixtures that do not and (2) certifies
that the fixtures that meet the requirements are not cost effective
and are not the best alternative. The law does not apply to lighting
meant to be used for less than seven days (CGS § 13a-110).
Maine's law applies to all state-funded lighting
fixtures. It bars the use of state funds to install or replace
outdoor fixtures that exceed the minimum lighting level recommended
for the application by the Illuminating Engineering Society of
America or the U.S. Department of Transportation. As in Connecticut,
fixtures with a rated output of 1,800 lumens must be designed
so that no light goes above the lamp. In the case of highways,
lighting is only allowed when non-lighting measures cannot achieve
the desired result. In addition, the Highway Commissioner must
consider the minimisation of glare and light trespass (light shining
on neighbouring properties).
The only exceptions to these requirements are when
(1) federal law has conflicting requirements or (2) the director
of the Bureau of Public Improvements determines that there is
a compelling safety interest that cannot be met while complying
with the state law (5 Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 1769, 2.23 Me.
Rev. Stat. Ann. § 707)
The law applies to all state-funded lighting fixtures
mandating full cut off lighting for lighting units with greater
than 1,800 lumens output. Lighting fixtures should be based on
the minimum lighting level recommended for the application by
the Illuminating Engineering Society of America or the U.S. Department
of Transportation. Generally adequate consideration to light pollution
and light trespass is mandatory.
Exceptions are when (1) federal law has conflicting
requirements, (2) fire, police, rescue or repair personnel need
light for temporary emergencies or repairs, (3) special requirements
(i.e. sport facilities, historic considerations) exist, (4) substantial
night time pedestrian traffic or (5) compelling safety interests
Arizona has recently passed Senate Bill 1218 (12th
May 2003) which strengthens an earlier effort (1996, Laws 1986,
Chapter 236). The law is mainly concerned with the shielding of
almost all outdoor light sources. The law requires that all outdoor
light fixtures (other than airport navigational lights) be fully
or partially shielded. Fully shielded means that no light goes
above the bottom of the lamp; partially shielded means that that
the shield extends at least halfway down the lamp. This requirement
does not apply to incandescent lights of 150 watts or less and
other sources of 70 watts or less. Streetlights are exempt from
this requirement if the shielding is not available from the manufacturer.
Unlike the laws in Connecticut, this requirement
applies to all lighting, rather than just that funded by the state.
Nonconforming lights can be used if they automatically shut off
between midnight and dawn. Arizona has prohibited the installation
of new mercury vapour lamps since 1991. Counties and municipalities
can adopt more stringent standards. (Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 49-1101
The law requires that new outdoor night lighting,
with certain exceptions, be shielded below horizon level or shut
off after 11 p.m. It requires that nonconforming existing fixtures
be replaced with conforming fixtures when they become inoperable.
Agricultural, industrial, and mining or oil and gas facilities,
and billboard lighting on interstates and federal primary highways
are exempt from these requirements. Public utilities can adjust
rates to recover the replacement costs (N.M. Stat. Ann. §
74-12-1 through 74-12-10).
The law bars state funds being used to install, replace,
or operate outdoor lighting fixtures unless:
1. any new or replacement fixtures with a capacity
above 1,800 lumens has a cut-off luminaire (this standard is somewhat
more lenient than Connecticut's);
2. any new or existing lamp provides no more than
the minimum lighting needed for the intended purpose, considering
nationally recognised standards;
3. for state highway lighting, the use of passive
measures cannot eliminate the need for the lighting; and
4. energy conservation, glare reduction, minimisation
of light pollution, and preservation of the natural night environment
has been fully considered.
The requirements do not apply to temporary lighting
and lighting used solely to enhance the aesthetic beauty of an
object. Nor do they apply when compliance would violate federal
law or when there is a compelling safety interest that cannot
be met by other means (Tex. Health and Safety Code Ann. §
421.001 et seq.).
Furthermore the 2001Texas law (HB164) deals specifically
with the "protection of professional observatories from skyglow".
This law allows county commissioners near 3 Texas observatories
to regulate outdoor lighting that is located in unincorporated
areas (outside city limits).
House bill 01-1160 is a bill concerning the energy-efficient
standards for certain new outdoor lighting fixtures funded by
the state. It is very similar to the Pennsylvania legislation
in terms of requirements and exemptions.
SB 5X Outdoor Lighting Standards: In April of 2001,
in response to the California energy crisis, the California Legislature
and Governor Davis passed and signed Senate Bill 5X (Sher, Chapter
7, 1st Extraordinary Session, Statutes of 2001), part of which
requires the California Energy Commission to adopt energy efficiency
standards for outdoor lighting.
The Commission intends to develop and adopt lighting
standards for all outdoor lighting applications, including all
non-conditioned areas that are not already subject to existing
California Standards. Such lighting includes but is not limited
to lighting in unconditioned buildings, lighting that is mounted
on the exterior of buildings, lighting that is exterior to buildings
but controlled from the electrical panel of the building, and
lighting that is not controlled from a building. Examples of outdoor
lighting include lighting in unconditioned warehouses and other
unconditioned building spaces, lighting for parking lots, signage
and advertising, car lots, and service stations, street and highway
lighting and other outdoor lighting systems.
The 2005 Building Energy Efficiency Standards(Including
SB 5X Outdoor Lighting Standards) is the formal rulemaking phase
of the project to develop the 2005 Building Energy Efficiency
Standards in response to AB 970 (statutes of 2000) and SB 5X (statutes
of 2001; outdoor lighting building standards). The updated standards
(express terms) are proposed to be adopted by the Commission in
the fall of 2003 and take effect in 2005.
In addition Maryland has proposed the Maryland Outdoor
Lighting Study Bill to enact a lighting taskforce in the state
and Georgia has proposed legislation to enact special lighting
controls on 'dark sky preserves' in the state.
Massachusetts state legislature is considering a
bill directing cities and towns to construct or revise ordinances
to directing the state to adopt full-cut-off fixtures for state-funded
outdoor lighting. This bill has wording very similar to that on
a bill passed into law by the State of Maine's legislature, in
which all state-funded new and replacement outdoor lighting must
be fully-shielded fixtures so that no light is emitted above the
Two of Spain's seventeen regional governmentsCatalonia
and the Canary Islandshave enacted legislation to tackle
light pollution, but there is no national legislation.
Legislation was introduced to protect and optimise
conditions around the Astrophysics Institute's observatories.
The general concept of light pollution was introduced via legislation
in 1988, with more detail added in 1992. The Astrophysics Institute's
Office for the Protection of the Quality of the Sky aims to ensure
the law is respected.
The legislation was introduced with general environmental
protection aims, and to meet energy efficiency criteria. The law
dates from 2001.
In both regions, laws rely more on type and position
of light source rather than measurement of emissions. Infringement
is punishable by administrative fine (which in the case of Catalonia
can range from 150 Euros up to 30,000 Euros).
The Optical Environmental Disruption (Light Pollution)
Prevention Ordinance in Bisei, enacted on 22 November 1989, was
the first regulation in Japan to deal with light pollution.
The ordinance was motivated by plans to establish
the Bisei Astronomical Observatory (BAO), one of the largest public
observatories in Japan. The main purpose of the ordinance is to
advocate the prevention of light pollution by the Town of Bisei,
its citizens and private firms, while guaranteeing a level of
lighting necessary for daily life.
The main points covered by the ordinance are:
- Adequate but minimum lighting
- citizens should try to keep outdoor lighting to a minimum, whilst
ensuring it is still adequate. All outdoor lights should be turned
off after 10:00pm, except particularly important lights, including
- Cooperation with astronomical observation - citizens
are asked to comply with extra restrictions on the use of outdoor
lighting when there are academically important astronomical observations
being undertaken in the town or neighbouring regions.
- Subsidies for light pollution preventive measures
- notably, the Town will provide subsidies amounting to up to
2/3 of the total expenses incurred for installing, remodelling
or exchanging lighting or other apparatus which result in a reduction
in light pollution.
Bisei uses the International Astronomical Union (IAU)
guidance that the brightness of the night sky should not exceed
10% of the natural condition, and has therefore set itself the
goal of keeping the night sky brightness within 10% of the natural
condition. But the implementation of the ordinance does not rely
on the measurement of light, but on compliance with various specified
standards for outside lighting, outlined below:
- Shading of the outdoor lights
- outdoor lighting should not emit light higher than a horizontal
level. In case of lighting on buildings or signboards, light sources
should be installed at the top.
- Light sources - the use of low-pressure sodium
lamps for outdoor lighting is recommended. These are less harmful
to astronomical observation. Since low-pressure sodium lamps use
a smaller volume of electric power, they are also more energy
- Use of floodlight projectors - Where search lights,
spotlights or lasers are continuously used outdoors, it is forbidden
to use appliances which project light higher than a horizontal
- Shading of indoor lights - business establishments
consuming a large quantity of light are advised to keep light
from leaking outside by using curtains and blinds, etc.
Action taken by other local Japanese governments
Following Bisei town's example, 6 other administrative
districts in Japan have launched similar ordinances on light pollution:
Matsuyama city, Ehime Prefecture
Takayama village, Gunma Prefecture
Hirakata city, Osaka Prefecture
These new ordinances are based on that enacted by
Bisei and thus rely on controlling the type of lights installed
rather than measurements of light emitted.
Action taken by central government (Ministry
of the Environment)
Most of the activity to control light pollution in
Japan has been initiated and enforced at the local level. But
the Central Government, through the Japanese Ministry of the Environment
has also produced various documents aimed at promoting the prevention
of light pollution:
- Development of Guidelines:The
Ministry of the Environment published its first guidelines on
the prevention of light pollution in March 1998. These guidelines
outline the problems caused by light pollution and stipulate measures
for minimising light pollution, particularly when installing outdoor
- Manual for planning the lighting of an environment:
In June 2000, the Japanese government produced a manual to be
used as part of the planning process for lighting a local area,
aimed at minimising light pollution while ensuring a level of
lighting necessary for daily life.
- Guidebook: In September 2001, the Ministry issued
a more detailed guidebook on light pollution legislation. In addition
to again outlining the problems caused by light pollution and
possible countermeasures, the guidebook also reviews existing
ordinances and legislation in Japan and elsewhere is the world
(including Lombardy City, Italy and Arizona) and on the basis
of this provides advice on activities which might be initiated
for controlling light pollution.
The "Enviro Smart Streetlights" Retrofit
The project aims to replace street lighting to full
cut off lighting. The principal driver of the project was to reduce
energy consumption and save money. The environmental benefits
such as reducing light pollution, CO2 emissions reduction, etc,
although very important, were secondary.
The Roads Business Unit was looking for efficiencies
in the streetlight system when the asset was transferred from
the utility to the City in 1998. The City considered it was excessively
lit and, following electricity prices increases in 2001 and in
the light of the Kyoto Accord initiative, it was considered the
right time to implement this project. The initiative originated
at Business Unit Level and was approved by a Committee of the
- The City is retrofitting the
following road lighting systems to meet minimum IES levels:
Residential local roads: 200W and 150W dropped lens cobraheads
to 100W, flat lens fixtures.
- Collector roads: 250W and 200W dropped lens cobraheads
to 150W, flat lens fixtures.
- Many other municipalities are already at minimum
light levels based on the wattage of the fixture and height and
distance apart on their light poles. Calgary was over-lit and
based on light analysis, the Council determined that lower wattages
could be retrofit at the same locations without adding poles to
meet minimum recommended light levels established by IES. Each
municipality must do the engineering analysis to determine if
a fixture retrofit is feasible or not. It was considered that
replacing or adding poles would greatly add to costs and would
not provide a reasonable payback.
Currently, in the NW areas of Calgary, 10,400 lights
have been refitted, and in the North East areas 8,000 lights have
been refitted. The remaining quadrants are being designed, but
the total City wide figure for replacement is estimated to be
It has been estimated that the retrofit project will
pay for itself in energy savings within three and a half to four
210 The information was provided by the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office Science and Technology Network. Back