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Smart Lighting Act of 2009 
Bill 18-175

  Councilmember Michael A. Brown
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh


Councilmembers Mary M. Cheh and Michael A. Brown introduced the following bill, which was referred to the Committee on ______.

To require a report regarding standards for outdoor light fixtures in the District, which standards, will minimize light pollution, energy waste, and improve public safety.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "Smart Lighting Act of 2009".

Sec. 2. Findings and purposes.

The Council finds that:

(1) The use of unshielded light fixtures and excessive lighting intensity:

(A) Jeopardizes human life and property because it produces glare, reducing visual acuity and distracting drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians;

(B) Causes excessive consumption of electricity, resulting in greater amounts of spending and air pollution than necessary;

(C) Increases safety risks by keeping human eyes from properly adjusting for night vision;

(D) Causes other human health impact, including contributing to insomnia and, by interrupting the human body's production of melatonin, possibly increasing the risk of certain cancers;

(E) Affects worker productivity by causing discomfort and distraction;

(F) Interrupts animals' breeding cycles and migration patterns by disorienting their sense of direction; and

(G) Detracts from the aesthetic beauty of not only the night sky, but the District's local environment.

(2) The deliberate regulation of lighting systems is desirable for purposes of:

(A) Reducing long-term expenditures for lighting systems;

(B) Increasing the popularity and aesthetic beauty of the District's tourist destinations, residential neighborhoods, and nightlife areas; and

(C) Restoring the view of the cosmic natural beauty of the night sky.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

(a) "Most Subtle Fixture" or "MSF" means a light fixture that is fully shielded and emits no more lumens than necessary and practical to serve its purpose.

(b) "Cost-efficiency" means savings of 15%, measured in U.S. dollars, in the price, over the normal operating life of a light fixture, accounting for equipment, electricity, and maintenance costs and the particular purpose and application of the fixture.

(c) "Energy-efficiency" means a savings of at least 15%, measured in kilowatt hours, in energy consumption over the normal operating life of a light fixture.

(d) "Fully shielded" means that no bulb in a fixture emits light above the horizon.

Sec. 4. Smart Lighting Program.

(a) Within 180 days after the effective date of this act, the District of Columbia Department of the Environment ("DDOE") shall submit a report to the Council recommending strategies and methods to reduce the production of luminescence to the lowest amount necessary. The report shall address:

(1) Amending signage and building code regulations to require the use of Most Subtle Fixtures;

(2) Requiring the use of Most Subtle Fixtures in connection with all roads, real estate, and buildings the District of Columbia owns, leases, operates, maintains, or to which it grants, appropriates, or allocates public money;

(3) Voluntary programs and practices creating incentives for residents and property owners in the District to exceed minimum efficiency standards; and

(4) Specific rules about:

(A) Techniques and standards for measuring illumination, cost efficiency, and energy-efficiency;

(B) Monitoring compliance with and efficacy of the Act;

(C) Treatment of nonconforming fixtures;

(D) Identification and dissemination of creative and innovative practices, and technologies consistent with the purpose of this act;

(E) Modified standards that might apply in particular commercial, historic, or residential areas;

(F) Requiring time-control lighting systems for new midsize commercial buildings;

(G) Requiring motion-controlled lighting systems for new large commercial buildings; and

(H) Maximizing the use of natural sunlight in preference to a MSF in buildings described in paragraph (2) of this subsection.

(b) In producing the report required by subsection (a), DDOE shall:

(1) Consult with civil servants who have technical expertise and work for the Office of Planning, the Office of Property Management, the Department of Housing and Community Development, the District Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and appropriate federal authorities, including the General Services Administration, the Architect of the Capitol, and the National Capital Planning Commission;

(2) Evaluate recognized lighting standards including standards promulgated by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design initiative;

(3) Identify specific purposes, locations, and conditions in which the Most Subtle Fixture should not be mandatory, including:

(A) Temporary nighttime work;

(B) Police and emergency medical services;

(C) A threshold of wattage or luminescence below which it would not be advisable for the District to regulate;

(D) Antiquated electrical systems;

(E) Where public safety interests cannot be practically satisfied;

(F) Rules and procedures for permitting the use of nonconforming fixtures at special events;

(G) Highlighting the aesthetic aspects of a single object, monument, or distinctive building; and

(H) Places regarded by people in danger as safe havens, such as police and fire stations, health clinics, homeless shelters, and shelters for battered women.

Sec. 5. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(3)).

Sec. 6. Effective date.

This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

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