Lighting Guidebook

Signal Station North Lighting Guidebook

Signal Station North Lighting Guidebook

A woman holding a high-powered flashlight during the Flash! guerilla lighting event. Photo by Ana Tantaros, Side A Photography

Practical Tools, a Critical History, and Inspiration for Neighborhood Light Projects

How do we perceive light? What is the history of light in Baltimore? How does the City’s lighting infrastructure work?

The Signal Station North Lighting Guidebook seeks to answer these questions in order to offer the tools and context needed to advocate for better lighting on your streets and in your neighborhood. This Guidebook includes how-to lessons on neighborhood lighting, resources, and practical information on how light works, along with historical context and municipal case studies that offer a basic grounding on light in Baltimore.

We hope you’ll enjoy this book, use it, and share it with your neighbors.

How Light Works

The Male-Female sculpture in front of Penn Station. Photo by Flux Studio

Did you know that brighter light can sometimes make it harder to see? Or that different qualities of light make colors appear differently? The Lighting Guidebook cover basic lessons on how the human eye perceives light — and what that means for the types of light we might want in our cities.

Light basics included in the Guidebook include color rendering, glare, shadow, municipal lighting, and color temperature (shown below).

What is color temperature?

White light comes in a range of colors, from the warm orange glow of candlelight to the cool, blue-tinged light of a snowy day. We use a metric called “correlated color temperature” (or CCT) to describe the color of a white light source. CCT is measured in Kelvin.

The color temperature of the light in an environment affects how that space feels. Warm white sources, like candles, are associated with relaxed, intimate settings. Cooler colors have more institutional connotations, like an office or hospital. Can you think of spaces with different light color temperatures? How do they feel?

Light color is measured on the Kelvin scale. Light bulbs and fixtures are often available in a range of color temperatures. When choosing a lamp (lightbulb) for your home or project, look for the temperature description on the product description. Warm white (often 2700 or 3000K) will have a more yellow glow. Bright white (often 3500K or 4000K) will feel more neutral. Daylight temperature (5000K or higher) will appear cool and blue-ish.

Community Lighting Guide

How to Get Creative Neighborhood Lighting Done

The Signal Station North Lighting Plan presents a number of Practical and Conceptual Recommendations to illuminate and animate the public spaces of the Arts District and Baltimore City. We hope that these recommendations and demonstration projects (some of which are highlighted in this Guidebook) will allow people to take neighborhood lighting into their own hands, whether they want to work with an artist to create a light art installation or just add string lights on their block.

Step-by-step Neighborhood Lighting Guide

While each intervention, no matter the scale, will bring its own complexities, the Lighting Guidebook outlines some key considerations and steps to take for anyone looking to light up a space in their neighborhood.

1. Gathering support: Talking to your neighbors about light

2. What are the current lighting conditions?

3. Site Ownership: Who owns and is responsible for the site?

4. Access to Power: What types of electric power sources are available?

5. Funding: How will the neighborhood pay for the installation?

6. Maintenance: Who will maintain the lights and pay for electricity long-term?

7. Installation: Who will install the project and what power source will you use?

A page from the Community Lighting Guide section of the Signal Station North Lighting Guidebook

Download the full Guidebook to learn more and see step-by-step advice.

Grants & Funding Resources

Lighting Grants & Funding Resources

Get money to help fund a light project in your neighborhood!

Federal Government

Fannie Mae Green Financing – Loan Program
Multifamily residential loan program

Maryland State Government

Maryland Energy Administration
Low-to-Moderate Income Energy Efficiency Grant
Local government, nonprofit, low income residential grant program

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
Multifamily Energy Efficiency and Housing Affordability Program
BeSMART Energy Efficiency Loan for Homeowners

Baltimore City Government

Office of Sustainability
Baltimore Energy Initiative — Low-interest loans to make buildings more efficient and Community Action Centers to assist customers
Baltimore Energy Challenge
Baltimore Municipal Energy

Department of Housing and Community Development

Energy savings loan program

Baltimore City Energy Office
Commercial and nonprofit loan program


Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (Electric) – Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
Rebate program for commercial, residential, multifamily residential

Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (Gas) – Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
Rebate program for residential and low income residential

Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (Electric) – Commercial Energy Efficiency Program
Rebate program for commercial, industrial, local government, nonprofit, state government, federal government, installers/contractors

Baltimore Nonprofits

Southeast Development Community Corporation
Neighborhood Spruce-Up Grants (one example is pedestrian lighting)
Only neighborhoods in SECDC catchment area

Strong City Baltimore
For projects in Greater Homewood
Grants include porch lighting

The Abell Foundation
Community development (including lighting) and environment are both areas of interest that could include upgraded lighting

Light City
Grants as a part of Light City for neighborhood lighting projects (last updated in 2019)

Southwest Partnership
Capital projects that could include neighborhood lighting

France-Merrick Foundation
One focus area is Community & Economic Development, which includes infrastructure improvements
Another focus area is Environment, which includes reducing carbon footprint

How-To Guides

How to Fix a broken streetlight

Is there a streetlight out in your neighborhood?

In Baltimore City, street lights are owned and maintained by two entities: the city’s Department of Transportation and the utility company, Baltimore Gas and Electric. The majority of lights are maintained by BGE, but some are maintained by DOT. At first glance it’s not easy to tell who maintains a light. This flowchart is designed to help you navigate getting a streetlight repaired or altered.

Flowchart: How to request a fix for a broken streetlight. Call Baltimore City 311

How to Request Municipal Lighting Improvements

Is there not enough light on your block? Or are the streetlights too bright light?

Even if the lights on your block and in your neighborhood are working, they might not be meeting your needs. It’s common for people to feel that the light in their area is insufficient, too bright, or intended more for cars than pedestrians.

Though it’s not always easy, you can advocate to have the lighting in your neighborhood changed. This flowchart helps to show the process.

Flowchart: How to request Municipal Lighting Improvements. Call Baltimore City 311

See the full Lighting Guidebook to learn more about the lights in your neighborhood.