4 key lighting code changes

PG&E
4 key lighting code changes

Lighting and lighting controls upgrades are a great way to lower energy costs and improve the appearance of your business. California's Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6 or Energy Code) are applied when you pull a permit for many types of lighting upgrade projects. The newest version (2016) of the Energy Code took effect January 1, 2017. When it comes to lighting, four major changes were made to the nonresidential requirements. Does it matter to your business? It just might!


Here are the four key changes you need to know when making lighting alterations to an existing non-residential building.

  1. Alteration requirements clarified, some requirements ease up
    The types of lighting projects that trigger Title 24, Part 6 requirements have changed. Indoor lighting alterations are now categorized into three types of projects: those that address Entire Luminaires (the whole fixture, whether it is moved or not), Luminaire Components (i.e., a retrofit kit) and Lighting Wiring (such as recircuiting a lighting system).

    Entire Luminaire Alterations: Energy code requirements apply when removing and reinstalling 10% or more of your existing luminaires; when adding or replacing luminaires; and when you redesign your lighting system along with changes to walls or ceilings.

    Luminaire Component Modifications: Some requirements also apply when you modify your existing lighting by changing the lamps and ballasts, changing the optical components, or permanently changing the light source from one type to another. Component modifications made to less than 70 luminaires in a year on any single floor of a building, without moving luminaires around, can be done without going through the Title 24, Part 6 compliance process. If your business shares the building floor with other tenants, the 70 luminaire threshold applies to solely to your business. You do not share the allocation with other tenants who have separate leases.

    Simply adding lighting controls is also allowed outside of the requirements, in most cases. Significant wiring alterations that add new circuits replace or modify wiring between luminaires and switches or panelboards, or replacing major components (i.e., control panels or branch circuiting) may trigger some of the controls requirements, but were reduced from the last code cycle.
  2. Lighting power density values drop
    The Energy Code has generally reduced the maximum amount of connected lighting power (measured in watts) allowed for an area (watts per square foot or W/ft2). For example, lighting power density allowances have been lowered for various indoor and outdoor spaces, including main entry lobbies, kitchen food preparation areas and waiting areas. With the transition to LEDs, these targets should be easy to meet.
  3. Lighting controls and dimming requirements streamlined
    Most lighting must be shut off when the area is vacant or after business hours, but 0.2 W/ft2 can now remain on continuously for egress. Partial-ON and partial-OFF occupancy control strategies are now more clearly explained (for transitional spaces such as corridors and parking garages). When occupancy sensors are mandatory, a 20-minute time-out instead of 30 minutes is now required.

    In the Energy Code, “multilevel lighting control” refers to the ability to dim.  These requirements are now easier to understand and apply. Multilevel lighting controls only have to allow the user to activate all light levels (also called control steps) required by the Energy Code. Also, just like the last version of the Energy Code, daylighting and demand response controls aren't necessary in alterations where the lighting power is at least 15% lower than the maximum allowed for that area. Projects that add lighting controls that serve 20 or fewer luminaires no longer require acceptance testing.
  4. New option for upgrades that reduce power by 50% or 35% over existing
    If a lighting upgrade project reduces the existing lighting power by 50% in office, retail or hotel spaces, or 35% in all other spaces, some types of lighting power and control measures are no longer required by the Energy Code. For these specific projects, area-by-area lighting power calculations and occupancy controls that turn the lighting down in vacant corridors and stairwells may not be required. This can save time and money during the retrofit process. However, you should still consider installing occupancy controls to increase energy and financial savings over time.

Even if you're not planning a significant upgrade, it's always good to know the latest requirements and best practices in energy-efficient lighting. If you'd like more information on Title 24, Part 6, including helpful resources, check out PG&E's Title 24, Part 6 FAQs or visit EnergyCodeAce.com. Want all of the details? Review the Nonresidential Lighting: What's New in the 2016 Title 24, Part 6 Code? or the complete 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards.