There's a lot of confusion surrounding California's Energy Code, commonly known as Title 24. Just what is it and what kind of effect will it have on your lighting?
As you'd see published in Section 6 of the California Code of Regulations, Title 24 is a broad set of requirements for “energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety, and accessibility” that apply to the “structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems” in a building. The code applies to all buildings in California, not just state-owned buildings.
In recent years, legislatures outside of California have begun to put similar sets of code into place in their respective areas, especially when it comes to lighting.
Because Title 24 and similar codes can significantly affect lighting and lighting controls, we dove headfirst into the code years ago to better understand its repercussions and help clients achieve success in their projects.
As a review, here is what you need to know about the code and how you can make sure your lighting is compliant:
Title 24 general lighting compliance: What to watch for
Note: This post will focus on how Title 24 affects commercial lighting applications, specifically.
In California, Title 24 is triggered whenever a building permit is pulled. So, if you pulled a permit, you'd need your plans reviewed or building inspected. All new construction projects require compliance with Title 24, as do new additions.
Retrofits – or "alterations" or "modifications in place" under the code – usually require code compliance. If you complete work in a space that qualifies as a “luminaire alteration” – converting 10 percent or more of your fixtures or 40+ total fixtures – you will have to ensure that the watts or lighting per square foot and the lighting controls in the space meet current Title 24 requirements. General repairs to your lighting, meanwhile, very rarely trigger Title 24.
What specific things will an acceptance test technician look for when determining compliance? As always, the final decision ultimately comes down to the local municipality and building inspectors, and sometimes even careful compliance with the standards of the code will fall short of additional local requirements.
Here are the main areas to look for when you're working toward Title 24 compliance with your lighting:
Automatic countdown switch requirements
Some restroom and server room applications are required by Title 24 to include automatic countdown timer switches that will shut off lighting after 10-30 minutes of use.
For more, see: Section 130.1(c)
Most buildings that have skylit and sidelit zones must have daylighting controls in order to achieve Title 24 compliance. Daylighting systems must be approved by acceptance test technicians.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(a), 110.9(b), 130.1(c), 130.2(c), 130.5(d), 140.6(a), 141.0(b), and 150.0(k) or Tables 140.6-A, 141.0-E, and 141.0-F.
Demand response requirements
If your building is larger than 10,000 square feet, it will need demand responsive lighting controls that can reduce the lighting load by at least 15 percent upon receiving a utility company signal.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(a), 110.10(b), 130.1(b), 130.1(e), 130.3(a), 140.6(a), and 141.0(b) or Tables 130.1-A, 140.6-A, 141.0-E, and 141.0-F.
Lighting power density (LPD) requirements
Lighting power density (LPD) is a big part of Title 24 lighting compliance in commercial applications. Defined as "the total rated wattage of lighting fixtures used in a building or space per square foot," LPD essentially designates specific wattage allowances to specific spaces throughout a building. There are three main methods for meeting LPD requirements under Title 24: prescriptive, performance, and tailored.
The most straightforward method for compliance is by using the prescriptive method, which essentially gives baseline wattage requirements per space. The key here is the maximum rated wattage of the fixture, or luminaire, not that of the lamp, or bulb. As a result, the easiest way of meeting Title 24 LPD standards is to use an LED retrofit kit that reduces the maximum rated wattage of the original fixture or an integral LED fixture in your application.
For more, see: Sections 130.1(d-e), 140.3(c), and 140.6(a-c) or Tables 140.6-A, 140.6-B, 140.6-C, and 140.6-G.
Manual dimmer requirements
Manual dimmers may be required in some nonresidential settings in order to reduce lighting power densities. Under Title 24, certain luminaires like LED may also come with requirements for continuous dimming.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(b), 130.1(a), 130.1(b), 130.3(a), 140.6(a), 141.0(b), and 150.0(k) or Tables 130.1-A, 140.6-A, 141.0-E, and 141.0-F.
Manual on/ off switch requirements
Most areas with ceiling-height partitions are required by Title 24 to have manual on/ off switch controls that are separately circuited by lighting type (e.g. accent lighting, general lighting, display lighting). Typically, these switches have to be in the same room as the lighting, according to code.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(a), 110.9(b), 130.1(a), 130.1(b), 130.1(c), 141.0(b), and 150.0(k) or Tables 141.0-E and 141.0-F.
Occupancy or vacancy sensor requirements
Title 24 requires that either an occupancy or vacancy sensor is used to reduce energy usage in nonresidential buildings. Occupancy sensors must be automatic and programmed to adjust lighting loads in accordance with the activity of a space.
As an alternative to an occupancy sensor, a vacancy sensor with a manual "on" and automatic "off" control can be used. These are most commonly seen in spaces that are rarely occupied or are occupied for short period of time.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(a), 110.9(b), 110.10(b), 130.1(b), 130.1(d), 140.3(c), 140.6(d), 141.0(b), and 150.0(k) or Tables 141.0-E and 141.0-F.
Part-night outdoor control requirements
Outdoor lighting applications like car dealerships may be required by code to have controls that reduce the lighting power by up to 40 percent for a portion of the night.
For more, see: Sections 110.9(a), 110.9(b), and 130.2(c).
Does Title 24 apply to me?
We created an interactive tool to help you determine whether Title 24 will be triggered by your project. Use the wizard below to see if the most recent version of the code will have an impact on how you go about your project.