Last month we introduced you to the new lighting standards from Title 24. Now, we’re diving deeper into the fine details of Title 24—specifically, the standards for lighting controls. While many find other aspects of California’s energy regulations easy to navigate and implement, the rules governing lighting controls can be quite baffling without a bit of homework. It is also hard to keep track with various compliance reports changing, relaxing, and tightening over time as part of scheduled or legislative adjustments.
Let’s start with a brief overview of the energy efficiency standards, before getting into details and common mistakes.
The Basics of Lighting Control Guidelines
As indoor lighting represents one of the largest consumers of energy for non-residential buildings, regulations regarding lighting controls to minimize unnecessary energy consumption and ease draw on the grid make up a major portion of recent updates to the California state energy code. The rules have shifted slightly over the years since 2013 added major lighting control regulations, mostly to make it easier to make alterations to existing buildings without triggering additional regulations and to simplify other rules considered unreasonably complex.
There have been a few changes to lighting control compliance threshold triggers for 2016, though the majority of the triggers look the same as the 2013 legislation. One significant change allows buildings to bypass multilevel and occupancy control requirements when replacing existing lights with more efficient luminaires without making changes to walls and ceilings. Hotels, offices and retail spaces must achieve a 50 percent reduction in power at full output to qualify. Other non-residential buildings must achieve a 35 percent reduction in energy consumption.
Beyond that, the efficiency standards look mostly the same as they did in 2013. Alterations that exceed 85 percent of the allotted lighting power allowance must fulfill all requirements, while those with 85 percent or less are exempt from demand response control and daylighting requirements, and only need to include multilevel controls with one step between 30 percent and 70 percent for the entire enclosed space.
Now that you understand the overview of lighting control energy compliance, here are the details of the individual sections:
- Area controls: Any area enclosed with ceiling-height partitions (i.e. walls or room partitions) will need a manual ON/OFF override control.
- Multi-level controls: Aside from a few exceptions, most areas over 100 square feet will need controls for either continuous dimming or with three intermediate levels between “off” and “on” in accordance with established building energy efficiency requirements. The specifics vary with lighting types, so it’s important that you match your situation to the appropriate controls.
- Automatic shut off: Indoor lighting must shut off for unoccupied spaces according to occupancy motion sensors, time switches, or other building systems, with separate controls required for each floor, 5,000 square foot space, and general lighting versus ornamental lighting. The new 2016 regulations require partial-ON controls to completely shut off the lighting in areas such as classrooms, conference rooms, and smaller multipurpose rooms and office rooms, while a partial-off control is necessary for other areas, such as warehouses, libraries, corridors, and stairwells.
- Automatic daylighting: Daylighting requirements look the same as they have since 2013. Photocontrols are required in all daylit interior spaces with at least 120W worth of lighting, including essentially all non-residential buildings with windows or skylights. A primary zone and a secondary zone based on distance from the window must be established to the same level of functionality with independent controls.
- Demand response: Aside from a few minor clarifications, the 2013 requirement of automatic demand response capabilities in the lighting systems of any building larger than 10,000 feet remains the same. Any commercial building of that size or larger must be able to automatically reduce lighting energy by 15 percent in response to a demand signal.
- Separation of circuits: Title 24 also includes a variety of specifications requiring the separation of electrical loads for a variety of devices, though some of these specifications have been updated in 2016 such that separate controls satisfy. Make sure you’re clear on these disaggregation requirements if you’re making any wiring changes which might trigger the new lighting wiring threshold category. In general, lighting should be separately controlled from all other lighting systems in an area. Floor and wall display, window and case display, ornamental and special effects lighting should be separately controlled on circuits that are 20 amps or less.
Common Mistakes and Misunderstandings
It’s important that you check the most recent adjustments to the energy code before committing to changes. The 2016 adjustments to Title 24 related to lighting controls mostly work to ease and clarify inconsistent, difficult, or unclear aspects of the law—acting on dated information may make new construction or alterations more difficult than necessary.
Hopefully, you now understand what’s expected to maintain compliance with Title 24, with regards to lighting controls. For most non-residential buildings, these regulations make up the bulk of your concerns regarding lighting; while efficient lighting and considerate usage of natural light are important for new building energy efficiency, the regulations regarding lighting controls affect a far greater number of buildings than some other Title 24 changes. Make sure you identify your responsibilities to stay within building code and address them appropriately.