The French government has implemented a regulation to reduce ‘light pollution’ and greenhouse gas emissions from unnecessary overnight lighting. The Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Energy has said that nighttime artificial lighting can be a source of significant disturbance to the ecosystem by altering communication between species, migration, reproductive cycles and the predator-prey system. The impact of artificial light on night sleep, disrupting the alternation of day and night, has also been the subject of discussion by the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance. The Minister also claims that reducing night time lighting will save energy equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 750,000 households and eliminate the emission of about 250,000 tonnes of CO2.
The regulation, which took effect July 1st, requires that:
- interior lighting in business premises must be extinguished one hour after the end of occupation of the premises;
- exterior lighting of non-residential buildings must be turned off no later than 1 am;
- lighting in store windows or trade exhibitions must be turned off no later than 1am, or one hour after the end of occupation of such premises if it occurs later;
- shop windows or trade exhibitions may be lit from 7:00 am or one hour before the start of the activity if it is carried out earlier;
- facades of buildings may not be lit before sunset.
Municipalities may grant exemptions for statutory holidays, the period of Christmas lights, during special events, or in places of exceptional tourist interest.
If it can be done in France it can be done almost anywhere. GallonDaily is not a big fan of moving by regulation. Maybe owners of commercial and industrial facilities should look into voluntary programs to emulate the French initiative before other governments get similar ideas.
The Minister’s statement on the new law can be read, in French, at http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/Un-arrete-pour-limiter-les.html
An interesting commentary by James Madison University professor Paul Bogard on the light pollution issue, which may be more serious than many of us have previously considered, is to be found on the Yale University environment360 website at http://e360.yale.edu/feature/bringing_back_the_night__a_fight_against_light_pollution/2681/