Monday, January 29, 2018

LED Legislation: 2018 General Assembly

UPDATE:  HB58 was left in Appropriations Committee on 2/13/18

Virginia IDA contributes to changes in legislative language; takes no position on HB58

During the 2016 and 2017 Virginia General Assembly sessions, the Virginia chapter of IDA opposed legislation introduced by Delegate John Bell (D-Loudoun).  (You can read an explanation of why in our post dated February 2, 2017 under "older posts"). 
The Virginia State Capitol is lit by one of the most wasteful and 
polluting of fixture designs--the "acorn"--using a glaring high 
Color Correlated Temperature source that further amplifies
 light pollution.

This year the legislation returned as House Bill 58 and our concerns were the same as in years past: mandating LED lighting for all state properties and facilities is risky.
The absence of a Color Correlated Temperature limit, exemptions for places where protecting the night sky and nocturnal habitat is a priority (including existing and potential certified Dark Sky Places), or any mention of adaptive control is a recipe for a well-intended law producing bad public policy and worse lighting.  

Energy-efficient technology does not equal environmentally responsible lighting when decisions are based only on efficiency (and cost) and not on comprehensive consideration of the full effects of lighting on our environment, natural and built, and on us.  Nor does it guarantee energy savings. Unfortunately, recently published research suggests that our tendency to respond to efficiency gains with increased consumption likely applies to LED lighting, with light pollution continuing to spread and intensify. 

Earlier this month Virginia IDA and the Smart Outdoor Lighting Alliance addressed these concerns again with Delegate Bell.  As a result of our conversation, Delegate Bell agreed to amend HB58's language to include a compromise CCT limit of 3500K and exemptions for state parks, astronomical observatories, and environmentally sensitive areas.  (The CCT limit is still above the 3000K limit that is the standard for IDA, SOLA, and the American Medical Association, but without any limit at all there was nothing to stop a state procurement process from unleashing 4000K, 5000K, or even 6500K lighting because it's the most "efficient").  

As a result of these changes, Va. IDA has taken a neutral position on HB58, neither supporting nor opposing it. 

We appreciate Delegate Bell hearing our concerns and his willingness to include us in the process of amending his legislation. HB58 left a subcommittee of the General Laws Committee on a 5-3 vote and has been referred to the Appropriations Committee at which time the new language will be incorporated.  You can follow HB58 here