Let There Be Darkness

Did you know that we have local ordinances for exterior lighting?

The City of Tucson and Pima County have jointly established guidelines for all exterior lighting that are commonly referred to as “dark sky laws,” said Randy Altergott, an Energy Advisor with Tucson Electric Power. The two identical ordinances are intended to protect our wildlife and preserve our extraordinary dark skies for everyone’s stargazing enjoyment.

“We’re not asking that businesses turn off their lights; we’re asking that they illuminate their buildings and parking lots intelligently,” said John Barentine, Program Manager for the International Dark Sky Association, or IDA, located here in Tucson.

Barentine sums up the rules with “The Four P’s.” Light your building:

  1. With the proper amount of light
  2. In the proper places
  3. At the proper times
  4. With the proper color of light

Essentially, exterior lighting fixtures must direct light toward the ground while minimizing blue-rich white light that can adversely affect wildlife behavior and reproduction.

Examples of Acceptable and Unnacceptable Lighting Fixtures

The IDA certifies friendly sky lighting with a seal of approval. IDA-approved lighting minimizes glare, prevents light from being cast where it’s not wanted and does not pollute the natural darkness and beauty of our night skies. While IDA-approved lighting is found at many retailers, not all lighting is IDA approved. A list of manufacturers and IDA-approved products can be found at darksky.org.

“Oftentimes, non-compliant exterior lighting can be energy inefficient. Businesses might be able to upgrade to compliant exterior lighting and simultaneously obtain energy efficiency rebates,” Altergott said. Click here for information about TEP’s lighting rebates.

For the complete legal ordinances applicable to the City of Tucson and Pima County, click here.

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