Mixed results so far for France'’s night-time lighting ban

There has been a mixed response from commercial properties to France’s ban on night-time lighting, according to studies on the impact of the law.

France’s dark sky association l’ANPCEN has urged public authorities to follow the letter of the law, which came into force last year, noting some inertia despite the risk of €750 ($1040) fines being imposed on those who don’t follow the rules.

That said, despite lack of compliance from certain quarters, energy wastage associated with nocturnal light pollution has reduced by some nine per cent since summer last year, when the rules first came into force.

The night-time ban on both interior and exterior lighting in non-residential buildings such as town halls, schools, offices and warehouses, stipulates that lights should be off between 1am and 7am or, if activities go on beyond 1am, they should go off one hour after the last person leaves.

The goal is, of course, significant energy savings as well as a reduction in light pollution which can harm health and disturb sleep.

A recent study of 32 tower blocks, however, notes that some eight high-rises had actually shown an increase in night-time lighting. In some instances the figures represented an increase of well over 50 per cent, and up to 130%.

Others, such as the Franklin, Europlaza and Areva high-rises have reduced night-time illumination significantly, ranging from around a third to two thirds of previous usage patterns.

The overall energy savings from office blocks that have reduced lighting, are equivalent to more than 6465MWh over the course of a year.

But with some public buildings still reluctant to follow the letter of the law, it has been suggested that more drastic measures may be needed to ensure co-operation.

Services such as air-conditioning and heating continue to guzzle energy, sometimes unnecessarily, and critics of the night-time lighting ban suggest that it is not likely to have the effectiveness that other, perhaps simpler measures could do.

Sébastien Flet Reitz, technical director of French lighting industry body the Syndicat de l’Éclairage, described it as just the beginning, pointing out that the vast majority of lighting energy is actually consumed during daylight hours.

That said, implementing a similar night-time lighting ban in the UK would at least send the message that lighting is a valuable,and limited resource, and in a poll of Lux readers last year the majority said they would support such a move.

And when combined with presence detection, daylight dimming, and increasingly energy-efficient building refurbishments, we would no doubt see far more significant results than the nine per cent currently being seen across the Channel.

 

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