California’s Title 24 is upping the game in lighting, energy conversation, and controls, both in the Golden State and in our country as a whole. While lighting distributors, manufacturers, and building contractors within California are well aware of the building energy code’s many requirements for new construction and major renovations, lighting industry leaders across the country should be keeping an eye on these building efficiency standards as well.
These standards are only considered the law in California, but they often set the pace for new regulations throughout the U.S., covering many energy-related construction matters such as roofing, windows, insulation, HVAC systems, and lighting.
The Gold Standard in Energy Codes
While all energy codes have the common goal of minimizing building energy consumption, Title 24 is considered the most progressive. Electrical Wholesaling reports that most states in the U.S. use the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), while 18 states opt for the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 standard; both are heavily influenced by Title 24. Many of the most stringent requirements in energy today start in Title 24 Part 6 (the energy code) and migrate into ASHRAE 90.1 or IECC.
Title 24 Recent Compliance Impacts
Title 24 was created by a legislative mandate in 1977 to reduce the state’s energy consumption. The California Energy Commission is responsible for adopting, implementing, and updating building energy efficiency standards every three years, ensuring that they are cost-effective for business and homeowners over the 30-year lifespan of a building. The standards are updated to consider and incorporate new energy efficient technologies and construction methods.
The most recent changes were approved in 2016 and took effect at the start of 2017. They include new performance parameters related to lighting quality, a color rendering index (CRI) of 90 or better, and correlated color temperature of 4,000K or lower. The true aim is to eventually combine energy efficiency with localized generation to make buildings that consume less energy than they produce a new normal for construction in the state and across the country.
Here’s a quick review of the most recent changes that mainly focus on lighting controls:
- Previous versions of Title 24 required lighting alterations to comply with the most recent standards when 50% of the luminaires were replaced. That number drops to just 10% of the luminaires in the new version, consistent with changes to ASHRAE 90.1-2010.
- The requirements for controls have increased in granularity, now requiring either continuous dimming or three intermediate levels between on and off settings (the previous requirement was one intermediate level). Now savings can still be achieved even when complete shut off isn’t possible, such as in a hotel or multi-family corridors.
- The requirements for photocontrols in daylit spaces have been expanded in addition to prescriptive daylighting requirements for secondary daylit zones.
- In addition to the demand response capabilities required for multi-level controls, Title 24 now mandates automatic demand response capabilities for lighting systems in all commercial buildings larger than 10,000 square feet, regardless of space type.
- Parking garages have to incorporate occupancy sensors that allow lighting to be switched off or turned to low levels. Warehouses, library stacks, and all corridors and stairwells must incorporate “partial off” control that partially dims the lights whenever space is unoccupied, allowing buildings to save energy while maintaining safety. Guest rooms in hotels will feature occupancy controls linked to both HVAC equipment and all lighting fixtures, including table lamps and another plug-in lighting.
The proposed 2019 code changes were accepted by the California Energy Commission (CEC) on January 19, 2018 and are currently undergoing a formal rule making process before their official release in early 2019. The 2019 standards are scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2020. As of right now, the code change proposal includes simplified language with reduced applications/project-specific requirements, energy savings options for small buildings and tenant spaces, and a universal compliance threshold and set of exemptions. Visit the California Energy Commission’s website for more on the rulemaking process.