facebook icon

The City of Sarasota Creates Safe Lighting for Sea Turtles and People

aerial view of City of Sarasota and ocean

The City of Sarasota in Florida is known for its vision to be a world-class community and a treasured destination with enduring natural beauty, charm, and diversity, creating a focus on preservation and sustainability. In a landmark project, it sought to offset the carbon footprint by providing solar lighting along Benjamin Franklin Dr. The solar-powered LED lighting will give safety and security all night while maintaining a natural, non-invasive illumination for sea turtle nesting habitats.

The Challenges of the Area

The extensive project has four areas of challenges the City of Sarasota wanted to correct:

  1. The city had a problem with roadway lighting in the beach resort destination encompassing St. Armand’s Circle to Ted Sperling Nature Park. 
  2. The location of the 1.6-mile drive is in a sea turtle nesting zone. These sea turtles are vulnerable to disorientation from artificial light adjacent to their nesting areas. 
  3. Meet the requirements of the area’s DOT and FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation) lighting standards.
  4. Design and installation have to consider high winds, storm surges, and a high water-table.


DOT, FWC, and the City of Sarasota’s engineering team, carefully analyzed the Benjamin Franklin Drive Lighting Project to find the best commercial-grade solar lighting solution. The teams assessed the sensitive sea turtle nesting beach, lined with high-end condominiums and hotels. Much of the roadway is inside the Coastal Construction Control Line (FL). The area maintains a high water table, densely packed with underground utilities. 

After several months of evaluation, all teams agreed to bring SELS Solar to design and engineer the lighting for this unique project. Solutions to the challenges include:

  1. SELS Solar evaluated lighting spectrums for the roadway and cut-off options to minimize light trespassing into the nesting area, thus promoting marine turtle conservation and safety for beachgoers.
  2. The City of Sarasota gained approval for lamp lights (560 nm) in the sea turtle nesting areas. 
  3. SELS Solar’s lighting team presented a lighting layout acceptable to FWC and DOT standards of lighting. FWC requires amber color and non-intrusive lighting at a low height. DOT requires bright, clear lighting with high uniformity. 
  4. Use solar-powered lighting that can withstand weather elements.


  1. In the Spring of 2022, SELS Solar installed 270 solar-powered LED lights providing high uniformity, safety, and security all night long and preserving the nesting area of sea turtles.
  2. SELS Solar lighting is durable and eco-friendly. The attractive light design is long-lasting and can withstand various weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds, cloudy days, etc.

Product(s) Used:


The City of Sarasota’s lighting project marks the beginning of an era of utility-scale solar LED lighting as an option for cities and municipalities. It is the first large-scale solar lighting project that is FWC and DOT-approved. 

These accomplishments don’t come easy, but at SELS Solar, we pride ourselves on meeting the challenges that position us as leaders in commercial solar-powered solutions. Call today to discuss your city’s solar lighting project.