Responsible Lighting for
the City Different


For reasons of public safety, New Mexico State law requires that all city public works projects be under the responsible charge of a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) acting on the city’s behalf. Santa Fe’s streetlight upgrade project is a public works project, but the city has not engaged or involved a PE in it. Director Wheeler claims to be unaware of any such law. This is a truly fantastic assertion given her position, work history, and the history of Santa Fe’s Department of Public Works which, until her appointment by Mayor Webber, carried out public works projects in accord with the law. 

Additionally, Director Wheeler and Dalkia Project Developer Ernst both informed City Councilor Mike Garcia, in writing, that there is no engineering discipline or licensure that applies to roadway lighting projects. This is patently false. It beggars the imagination that a qualified public works director, or a firm that provides engineering services, could make such a claim out of ignorance: i.e., it is hard to credit the making of this claim as anything but a deliberate attempt to mislead a responsible city official. 

Making The Change to LED Street lighting 

In 2021 Santa Fe plans to upgrade its existing street lighting to modern LED lighting. Modern LED street lighting is more reliable, more energy efficient, and vastly more flexible than the city’s existing (high pressure sodium) lighting.

That flexibility – not present with previous lighting technologies – means that we no longer have to chose between safety, city ambience, public health, or protection of the environment: with modern commercial LED streetlights we can choose to have it all!

This web site is all about how we can make that choice. It starts with Responsible Lighting. 

What is Responsible Lighting?

First and foremost, responsible lighting is lighting with a purpose. Only when the purpose is set do you know what needs to be illuminated, how it should be illuminated, and when it needs to be illuminated.

For example, if the purpose of lighting is to assist pedestrians in avoiding pathway hazards, then it is the path – and only the path – that needs to be illuminated.

And, the lighting should be no brighter than necessary to illuminate the path and reveal the presence of hazards. And, only when there are pedestrians present using the path. And, warm and friendly to comfortably guide the eye. 

Light escaping from greater Santa Fe to space. In this picture red is more light, then yellow, green, and blue for very little light. None of this light is useful to the city or its residents. Some is thoughtlessly directed upward; some is reflected from the ground or the buildings it is needlessly directed toward. Even then, to be so visible from space Santa Fe lighting is much brighter than is necessary to do the job on the ground, where it is needed. It is wasted light, wasted energy, and wasted dollars. A responsible lighting plan should reduce the city’s light footprint as seen from space.

Responsible Lighting Saves . . . 

Responsible light saves energy. Lighting without a purpose, lighting what does not need to be illuminated, or in excess of how it should be illuminated, or when it does not need to be illuminated, wastes light and the energy needed to create it. 

Saving energy saves money. Saving energy reduces the city’s climate-change footprint. 

For a city, responsible lighting is responsible stewardship of city finances. The dollars saved by lighting responsibly may be spent to put more teachers in more classrooms, create and sustain parks and youth and senior programs, add to community policing, improve or expand city services, or returned to city taxpayers. 

Irresponsible lighting is a senseless bonfire of taxpayer dollars.

Want to learn more? Follow the link for The Big Picture…