City Councilman Wants The Skyline To Turn Off The Lights At Night

December 8, 2014 | Rhett Jones

Councilman Donovan Richards is set to propose a limit on the number of lights commercial buildings in NYC are allowed to keep on at night. Richards sees the legislation as an effort to curb carbon emissions. With a citywide goal of reducing the energy footprint by 80% in 2050 already in place, Richards is presenting the plan as an inevitability. City building emissions make up 80% of NYC’s carbon profile.

The councilman told Capital New York:

The primary focus of the Lights Out Bill is energy conservation. With a focus on unnecessary lighting, particularly in non-residential, retail and other similarly used buildings.

Richards first began considering the bill when he visited Paris, The City Of Light, where similar legislation has been enacted:

While in Paris, I had the opportunity to connect with my counterparts in local government. During our conversations, I learned that the city made this important change in 2012 and witnessed firsthand what an iconic but somewhat darker city might look like.

Paris’s population is roughly a quarter of New York’s. It’s estimated that limits on commercial lighting have saved the equivalent of the annual energy use of 750,000 households. If the plan were executed in NYC and yielded the exact same results, that would translate to the energy use of 3 million households annually.

The Lights Out Bill will officially be proposed at 1:30 PM on Monday. The councilman is well aware that he’s likely to face opposition from many groups who would be upset by a city that doesn’t quite shine so bright.

I imagine that some members of the tourist and retail industry and, to a certain extent, public safety may raise some concerns. Iconic landmark locations and buildings and zoned areas will be provided with exemptions in the bill. Additionally, small stores and businesses will be excluded from the provisions and waivers are available where needed to address safety concerns.

(Photo: Thierry Cohen, Darkened Cities Promo Image)