Energy Star

Proposed LED Street Light Energy Star Criteria Promote Dark Skies


In a breakthrough cooperative move toward the protection of dark skies, specifications calling for full shielding of solid state lighting (LED) luminaire street lights were included in the proposed criteria for the federal efficiency program Energy Star. If passed, the pending requirements, released on August 20, 2008 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), will have a major impact on the design and marketability of all future LED street lights. These criteria are the result of input gathered at a series of DOE sponsored workshops held in Phoenix, AZ; Atlanta, GA; and most recently in Portland, OR in July. During his participation in the workshops, IDA Technical Advisor Pete Strasser spoke repeatedly with DOE officials to emphasize the necessity of the fully shielded nature of luminaire design. 

In the category of outdoor pole/arm mounted area and roadway luminaires (outdoor street and public lighting), the guidelines propose that the "Luminaire shall deliver 100% of total lumens within the 0- 90 zone, with a maximum of 10% of total lumens delivered within the 80- 90 zone (bilaterally symmetrical)." In lay terms, these specifications mean that the requirements for how the light is directed in each luminaire meet IDA standards for total dark sky compliance. 


Read the proposed criteria. 


Possible inclusion of full shielding in Energy Star standards is one of the items requested in the open letter to the EPA, signed by members of the US House of Representatives at IDA's recent Congressional briefing.  Energy Star's consideration of this standard for LED street lights signals official recognition of the environmentally positive capabilities of fully shielded light fixtures and helps to ensure that future public LED fixtures will be both energy efficient and dark sky friendly.


"It is encouraging to see that the DOE recognizes lumen distribution as part of a luminaire's efficiency, not just lumens per watt," stated IDA Technical Advisor Scott Davis. The proposed efficiency measure is an important victory for dark skies everywhere. 


The Next Step


The pending Energy Star requirements are a breakthrough in federal cooperation for the protection of dark skies. However, due to the rapid rate of  breakthroughs in LED technology, Energy Star efficiency criteria has already been met, and in some cases exceeded. The formalization of LED requirements has been postponed indefinitely in order for standards-making bodies to achieve the most accurate and stringent expectations possible to create optimal efficiency goals in the final version of Energy Star standards. 


In accordance with government policy, the proposed standards will undergo a 60-day public review before they are officially adopted as 2009 Energy Star criteria. Thank you for helping IDA save both energy and starscapes by encouraging the DOE to confirm this breakthrough efficiency requirement. Your comments to Energy Star have been entered into the public record and will have an impact on the final criteria.  


See sample e-mails from dark sky advocates.


Communications by IDA supporters have had a tremendous impact in gaining attention and support for past endeavors. Please let Energy Star know that you strongly favor the acceptance of the LED criteria for full shielding of street lights. Thank you again for your strong commitment to dark skies.   


About Energy Star


Energy Star is the most widely recognized energy efficiency program in America. It was started in 1992 as a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to save money and reduce environmental impact through energy efficient products and practices. This federal program has developed important partnerships in residences and businesses alike. According to the Energy Star Web site, “Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2007 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 27 million cars — all while saving $16 billion on their utility bills.” Learn more by visiting