top of page

Lighting Codes

Successful lighting codes need to strike a balance between the needs of municipalities, businesses and homeowners to ensure security and safety and the energy costs, environmental impact and health effects of artificial light pollution.

The installation of LED street lighting is growing, due to its lower operational cost and bright light. After replacing 114,067 lighting units with LEDs, the city of Los Angeles, California, reduced their lighting energy consumption by 63.3% and saved $5,325,793 annually. However, concerns have been raised by the medical community regarding the impact of certain types of LED lights on people.

Street lighting at UC Davis

Street lighting at UC Davis, courtesy of the California Lighting Technology Center.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), LED streetlights with higher levels of blue-white light can suppress melatonin production during the night, negatively impacting the body’s circadian rhythm and leading to reduced and poorer quality sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day and reduced attention spans.  Chronic exposure to blue-white light, which reaches deep into the eye, is associated with retinal cell damage, cataract formation and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Flagstaff, AZ has been recognized as the world's first International Dark Sky City. Here is their outdoor lighting ordinance.

The Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) is a nonprofit organization that helps local governments across Washington State serve their citizens by providing legal and policy guidance on a variety of topics, including lighting codes.

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC) at the University of California at Davis is a not-for-profit research, development and demonstration facility dedicated to accelerating the development and commercialization of next-generation, energy-efficient lighting and daylighting technologies.


The International Dark Sky Association is the leader in the movement to wipe out unnecessary light pollution. Their web site has some very useful guidelines for municipal lighting codes.

Grassroots Environmental Education, a science-based non-profit organization, has produced a Fact Sheet on LED Street Lighting

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has multiple resources on their site for towns and villages who are considering upgrading their street lighting fixtures. 

The U. S. Department of Energy's Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium shares technical information and experiences related to LED street and area lighting demonstrations and serves as an objective resource for evaluating new products on the market intended for those applications. Cities, power providers, and others who invest in street and area lighting are invited to join the Consortium and share their experiences.


[1] Pauley, S. M. (2004). Lighting for the human circadian clock: Recent research indicates that lighting has become a public health issue. Medical Hypotheses, 63(4), 588-596.

[2] Herman, P., et al. (2001). Frequency-domain fluorescence microscopy with the LED as a light source. Journal of Microscopy, 203(2), 176-181.

[3] Sandborn, P., et al. (2015). A return on investment analysis of applying health monitoring to LED lighting systems. Microelectronics Reliability, 55(3-4), 527-537. 

[4] Jackson, L. E. (2003). The relationship of urban design to human health and condition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 64(4), 191-200.

[5] American Medical Association (2016) AMA Adopts Guidance to Reduce Hard from High Intensity Street Lights.

[6] Hunter, J. J., et al. (2012). The susceptibility of the retina to photochemical damage from visible light. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research, 31(1), 28-42. 

bottom of page