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Thanks to advances in LED lighting technology, lighting designers have the tools to create projects which effectively manage glare and light trespass. The DarkSky Approved Outdoor Sports Lighting program sets the standard for responsible outdoor sports lighting. DarkSky Approved outdoor sports lighting fields exhibit what is possible through strict guidelines, advanced products, and quality lighting designs.

An LED-lighted soccer facility located adjacent to a residential neighborhood. Photo taken approximately 150 feet from field edge. Credit: Musco Lighting

Participating in the DarkSky Approved outdoor sports lighting program supports the following:

  1. Minimizes neighborhood lighting nuisances by greatly reducing the allowable spill and glare disruption. Quantitative pass/fail thresholds are established.
  2. Manages high-angle glare, thus, off-site light trespass and sky glow effects due to direct and reflected light are dramatically lower.
  3. Mandates curfew requirements, thus mitigating neighborhood nuisance factors and sky glow effects which benefit flora/fauna and night sky enthusiasts’ and astronomers’ views of the night skies during peak viewing periods.
  4. Limits the class of play to recreational levels, thus discouraging over-lighting practices.
  5. Promotes “Best Lighting” practices that minimize lumen densities, which reduces energy consumption, benefiting the environment at large.

Certification process

The process has two phases.

Phase 1: Design Analysis

Phase I reviews and evaluates the proposed field design and, based on photometric data and other information, determines if the design meets the program guidelines. Approved designs will be validated by an DarkSky approval letter and promoted to the community as meeting DarkSky’s night sky friendly standards.

Phase 1 cost: $1,000 per design review

Failed designs can be submitted three times, after which the applicant will be required to restart the process and pay another $1,000 application fee.

Phase 1 summary

  • DarkSky reviews a facility’s proposed lighting design against established program guidelines.
  • Designs meeting the program guidelines will be issued a DarkSky approval letter.
  • Designs may be submitted three times for review, after which applicants are required to restart the process.

Phase 2: Field Verification

Phase II provides the option for designs with a DarkSky Phase 1 approval letter to have the facility, once constructed, professionally evaluated, and validated as conforming to the program guidelines by a site visit. Facilities meeting the design specifications will receive a DarkSky certificate representing a successful field inspection.

We strongly recommend that applicants submit an approval letter from the design professional or installing manufacturer before requesting Phase 2 field certification from DarkSky.

Phase 2 cost: $3,000

DarkSky may require reimbursement for travel expenses to certain locations to undertake field verifications. These costs will be discussed with applicants in advance.

If the design fails field verification, a Phase 2 application must be re-submitted with a second submittal fee of $1,500.

A secure link will be provided to initiate payment for Phase 2.

Phase 2 summary

  • On completion of construction, facilities issued a DarkSky Certification Letter can apply for Phase 2 Field Verification.
  • Technicians certified by DarkSky will visit the facility to verify that the installation complies with our program guidelines.
  • Facilities meeting the design specifications will receive the following:
    • DarkSky Approved certificate recognizing your achievement.
    • Recognition on the DarkSky website.
    • Public relations support.


If you’re ready to apply, ensure you’ve reviewed the guidelines, then fill out the form. Phase 1 payment is due upon form submission.


To learn more, contact the DarkSky Lighting Program Manager.