Model Lighting Codes
Before you use another Model Lighting Code…
In 1989 innovative lighting codes were developed for Flagstaff and Coconino County that were the first to restrict the amount of light permitted (per acre) in outdoor lighting installations. Their intent is to encourage lighting practices and systems that will:
- minimize artificial sky glow, glare, and light trespass;
- conserve energy and resources while maintaining night time safety, utility, security, and productivity; and
- curtail the degradation of the nighttime visual environment.
These lighting codes remain the only codes demonstrated through research amd critical dark-sky analysis to actually reduce sky glow light pollution. If your community truly seeks to protect dark skies, the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition strongly recommends using these codes – particularly the Flagstaff and Coconino County codes or models based on them
(see the updated Pattern Outdoor Lighting Code v2.0 July, 2010.)
Further, these codes work. The critical general limits of 100,000 and 50,000 lamp lumens-per-acre (equivalent to about 70,000 and 35,000 fixture lumens-per-acre) and strict practical shielding standards have been in place for over twenty years. Hundreds of developments have been successfully built, including service stations, auto dealers, and national retail franchises (Home Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Target, WalMart SuperCenter, Best Buy, Kohl’s, etc.).
Other codes offered by the lighting industry and other authorities in dark sky protection in collaboration with the lighting industry have not been shown to assure real protection. Critically, analysis by C. Luginbuhl at the US Naval Observatory of the June 2010 draft of the Joint IES-IDA Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) indicated that this “model” would not improve dark skies. An updated soon-to-be-published analysis by the same author of the final Joint IES-IDA Model Lighting Ordinance, indicates that the MLO remains critically deficient, allowing substantially greater light pollution than these northern Arizona codes and, in most cases, greater light pollution than produced by even unregulated outdoor lighting.
Note: Though there are over three dozen lighting codes around the US that establish lumens per acre limits following the pattern of these local innovative lighting codes, the Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition cannot recommend any of these as guides. Most or all have been substantially modified with the consequent introduction of lighting technical, legal and other errors; many have dramatically raised the lumen caps to the point where there will be no effective improvement over otherwise unregulated lighting. Any community using one of the codes recommended here as a base for their code should modify these codes with extreme caution. The IDA Outdoor Lighting Code Handbook provides good general guidance and background for anyone seeking to effectively tailor a lighting code to meet local priorities.
Some Very Good Codes and Information
Coconino County Lighting Code (adopted/amended 2001; Official Title: Coconino County Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 17
Yavapai County Lighting Code (adopted/amended 2002; Official Title: Planning and Zoning Ordinance, County of Yavapai, Section 120; link: 80KB PDF)
Flagstaff Lighting Code [3.7MB PDF] (updated Nov 2011 – Official Title Flagstaff Zoning Code, Chapter 10-50 Division 10-50.70, and parts of Chapters 10-20 (Administration, Procedures and Enforcement), 10-50.100 (Sign Standards), and 10-80 (Definitions))
Cottonwood Lighting Code (adopted/amended 2000; Official Title: City of Cottonwood Zoning Ordinance, Section 408; link: unofficial copy)
Sedona Lighting Code (adopted/amended 2001; Official Title: Sedona Land Development Code, Article 9, Subsection 911.01; link: City of Sedona website)
Village of Homer Glen, Illinois, Ordinance Number 12-040 (adopted/amended August, 2012)