Dark Sky NM

inviting you to enjoy and protect the New Mexico night sky

Best Practices

Illuminating a night-time landscape effectively and efficiently is an art and a science. The first line of defense for New Mexico's night sky and night-time environment is an informed community of architects and engineers. These professionals influence the number and selection of lighting fixtures for both new installations and renovations/retrofits on commercial and public projects, and in some cases large residential developments.



Many lighting engineers are members of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), a professional organization dedicated to improving the lighted environment. The IESNA makes its design guides available for purchase by non-members. We recommend architects, engineers, contractors, developers, and decision makers for commercial and public facilities take advantage of these valuable resources. A selection of useful IESNA design guides and other design resources appears below.

In addition, we recommend the following general design guidelines:

Design Criteria for Good Outdoor Lighting
♦ Comply with applicable codes and outdoor lighting ordinances
♦ Design in accordance with IESNA recommendations
♦ Follow IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) information and guidelines
♦ Determine if it is really necessary for an area to be lit and then apply these four elementary concepts:
   1. Shield it
   2. Point it down
   3. Don't use more than you need
   4. Turn it off when you are done and not there


Industry Design Guides from IESNA

Lighting for Exterior Environments
Most useful document; purchase this one first

Lighting for Parking Facilities

Roadway Lighting

Sports and Recreational Area Lighting

Lighting and the Visual Environment for Senior Living

Addressing Obtrusive Light (Urban Sky Glow and Light Trespass) in Conjunction with Roadway Lighting

Luminaire Classification System for Outdoor Luminaires

The Lighting Handbook, 10th Edition (2011)


FAA Advisory Circular

Obstruction Marking and Lighting
To promote aviation safety


LEED Credits for Exterior Lighting from U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)

Light pollution reduction

Bird collision deterrence


back to top

Next Section: New Mexico Lighting Laws