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Advancing responsible outdoor lighting

DarkSky advances responsible outdoor lighting through policy positions, public education, scientific research, partnerships, and more.

Our desire to light our world at night is not new. We have illuminated our outdoor public places and private realms for centuries. What has changed is that outdoor lighting is now ubiquitous, cheap, and powerful. With it, the world has gotten brighter. A lot brighter.

Lighting brings tremendous benefits to modern society. It has revolutionized the way we live and work outdoors. Modern society requires outdoor light at night for various needs, including safety and commerce.

Responsible outdoor lighting

  • Meets the needs of people to see at night
  • Conserves energy
  • Avoids harmful effects on wildlife
  • Protects our night sky

The Five Principles for Outdoor Lighting

We promote a holistic approach to light pollution reduction using the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting.

Thoughtful lighting installations limit light to where it is needed, and only in the amounts necessary. This approach eliminates unnecessary lighting and light going up into the sky, and reduces over-lighting, glare, and lighting that spills out past its intended area.

Responsible outdoor lighting is

1 — Useful

Use light only if it is needed
All light should have a clear purpose. Consider how the use of light will impact the area, including wildlife and their habitats.

2 — Targeted

3 — Low level

4 — Controlled

5 — Warm-colored

Illustration of a home with a shielded outdoor light pointing down toward the ground.

Guides and how-tos

For more in-depth information on responsible outdoor lighting and what you can do to help, DarkSky has developed additional guidance on:

Lighting policy and ordinance database

In partnership with the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, we are developing a database of case law and statutory law about lighting issues. The database will be available later this year.

In the meantime, you can review our 2018 report on US case law.

Illustration of a person using a technology interface to search through documents.

Global standards and partnerships

DarkSky participates as a stakeholder in many of the professional organizations that establish lighting standards worldwide, including the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES).

Our advocacy is focused on getting light pollution recognized as a core issue and incorporating the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting in all relevant standards.

In this section

Advancing responsible outdoor lighting

  • Education and outreach
    • Outdoor lighting resources