Lights Out in France: New Light Pollution Laws for French Businesses

New French law to require shops and business to turn their lights off overnight

New French law to require shops and business to turn their lights off overnight

I love hearing about light pollution in the news and media, especially when the stories are about people, towns, or governments taking action.  That’s why when I read an article on about a new light pollution law in France I nearly did my version of the Ray Lewis dance!  The new law is an attempt to both curb several aspects of light pollution.  France’s Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Delphine Batho, announced the new law yesterday directed towards lighting on non-residential buildings across the country.  The new law will make it obligatory for shops and commercial buildings in France to shut off their interior, window, and exterior lighting at night.

The main aspects of the new law are as follows:

  • Interior lighting in office buildings must be switched off one hour after the staff leaves the building
  • Exterior lighting used for illuminating building facades may be turned on one hour before sunset but must be switched off by 1 a.m.
  • Window lighting in commercial buildings must be switched off between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Minister Batho announced the law hopeful for France’s future as a global leader in the fight against light pollution and all its negative effects.  According to the non-governmental organization the Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie(ADEME), the new law will help France save two terrawatthours of energy each year (1 terrawatt is 1 million megawatts) which is enough to power 750,000 homes in France every year.  These energy savings results in a reduction in France’s CO2 output by 250,000 tons each year.

As with almost every light pollution ordinance there are exceptions.  Buildings that are tourist attractions year-round are exempt from the new law, as well as Christmas lights, and local holidays and festivals.

Minister Batho is hopeful that the new regulations will not only reduce France’s energy consumption, but also help preserve the nocturnal environment, limit health problems caused by excess light, and of course help improve the quality of the night sky.  The law will go into effect on July 1, 2013 so if you’re an astronomer, professional or amateur, in France make sure you wait until after 1 a.m. to set up your telescope for the night!  I can only hope this snowballs into bigger and better things for France and all of Europe in regards to fighting light pollution.  Well done.

Davies, Katie, The Guardian Online,
Myels, Robert, Digital Journal
de la Baume, Maïa, New York Times
Additional Resources:
http://www.lampclick.comLight Pollution:  Effect on Humans and Energy Efficient Solutions
Astronomers Without Borders Dark Skies Awareness Blog
International Dark Sky Association

About Tim

My name is Tim Phelan. I am a nerd, amateur astronomer, sports nut, and follower of Jesus. I live in Baltimore, MD where the skies are oh so polluted with light. This is Ravens Country, Birdland, and the City that Reads, or whatever. Follow me on and

Posted on January 31, 2013, in Light Pollution, Night Sky and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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