Stricter California Lighting Standards Take Effect

The state of California’s updated Title 24 energy efficiency standards went into effect July 1. Commercial integrators should familiarize themselves with the changes, as well as how to capitalize on this push for greater lighting and energy savings.

As of July 1, California integrators have a renewed reason to start pushing energy management systems for their clients in nonresidential buildings (as well as new homes, for those of you who dabble in residential work).

The newly updated 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) took effect, calling for 25 percent less energy consumption for residential buildings and 30 percent savings for nonresidential buildings compared with the original 2008 Energy Standards.

“These new Title 24 standards will help California buildings function beautifully and economically. The most effective way to optimize building performance is during construction,” says Commissioner Andrew McAllister who oversees the Energy Commission’s energy efficiency division. “Standards are a foundational part of California’s long-term goals for meeting our energy needs, conserving resources and protecting the environment.”

The 2013 standards update codes for lighting, space heating and cooling, ventilation, and water heating. According to the California Energy Commission, within the first year of implementation, the new standards are projected to add up to 3,500 new building industry jobs as well as save million gallons of water per year. After 30 years of implementing the standards, California will save nearly 14,000 megawatt hours or enough electricity to power 1.7 million homes and avoid the need to construct six new power plants.

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The significant changes to the Building and Standards code are the first update since California’s energy agencies agreed upon a Zero-Net Energy goal: all new residential buildings by 2020 and new nonresidential buildings by 2030. The 2016 and 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will move the state even closer to the Zero-Net Energy goal.

The California Lighting Technology Center at the University of California, Davis has put together a guide outlining and summarizing many of the important changes that went into effect. Here are some items of note:

—All interior luminaires in non-residential buildings must have manual on/off controls, and each area must be independently controlled. Dimmer switches must allow manual on/off functionality, with some exceptions such as public restrooms with two or more stalls, which do not need a publicly accessible switch.

—For multilevel lighting controls in areas larger than 100 square feet, installed luminaires must have at least one of the following types of controls for each luminaire: manual continuous dimming and on/off control; lumen maintenance; tuning; automatic daylighting controls; demand response controls.

—Classrooms are one of the rare exceptions to the multilevel requirements. Instead, if they have a connected general lighting load less than or equal to 0.7W/square foot, they must have at least one control step between 30 and 70 percent of full-rated power.

—For automatic daylighting controls, the 2013 code requires that floor plans have 75 percent of their total area in daylight zones, increased from the 50 percent required in the 2008 code, and it applies the rule more broadly now to buildings over 5,000 square feet, rather than buildings over 8,000 square feet previously. In these zones, control requirements have become more stringent, now requiring multilevel automatic daylight controls in all sky-lit or side-lit zones where the installed general lighting power is greater than or equal to 120W.