Light + Justice

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About this talk

Everyone deserves good light (and darkness). Well-designed, high-quality lighting is a signifier of prosperity and privilege. Poor communities usually suffer poor lighting. As professional lighting designers and collegial allies, Edward Bartholomew and Mark Loeffler will explore the intersection of lighting with social and environmental justice, and its inequitable, adverse impact on marginalized communities. Based on these speakers’ ongoing interrogation of lighting's role in society, they will examine historical precedents and current realities imposing low-quality and unjust lighting on these communities. They will probe how exterior illumination in the public realm is used to reinforce power dynamics and status, often as a tool of surveillance, policing, and the control of nocturnal behavior. These concerns correlate with sustainability benchmarks such as the LEED pilot credit for Social Equity within the Community. Sustainability advocates will gain an understanding of lighting justice issues along with opportunities to plan and deliver improvements to under-served, vulnerable communities that need it the most.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand lighting quality as a signifier of power, status, and privilege and how it has been denied to marginalized communities.

  2. Realize how lighting has historically used unjustly as a tool of surveillance, policing, and the control of nocturnal behavior of those communities.

  3. Correlate Living Building Challenge, LEED, WELL and other sustainability benchmarking systems can influence lighting improvements for social and environmental benefit for those communities.

  4. Appreciate how planners and designers can prioritize and invest in lighting reparation programs for underserved neighborhoods.

1 GBCI CEU (self-reported) 1 LFA CEU (pending)

Edward Batholomew


Mark Loeffler IALD, LEED Fellow

Lighting and sustainable design

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