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5 changes to Title 24 2016: indoor lighting and control requirements

Title 24 2016, the latest iteration of California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standard, went into effect in January 2017, bringing even more stringent requirements to define the compliant design of lighting and lighting control systems in nonresidential buildings. This version of Title 24 further restricts lighting energy consumption by reducing the lighting power density (LPD), measured in watts per square foot, allowed in several space types. It also clarifies many of the previous controls requirements.

Here is an overview of the five biggest changes to indoor lighting and control requirements in Title 24 2016.

1. Lower LDPs

Regardless of which method is used to determine the amount of interior lighting power allowed on a project (building, area or tailored), buildings completed in compliance with Title 24 2016 will need to feature an even smaller lighting footprint than previously required. The new standard further reduced the LPD allowances in several space types. A few of the lower LPDs are shown in the table below.

Lighting power Density Updates from Title 24 2013 to Title 24 2016 (Area Category Method)*

Primary Function Area Allowed Lighting Power Density (W/f2)
  2016 Reduction from 2013 Levels
Convention, Conference, Multipurpose and Meeting Center Areas 1.2 0.2
Kitchen, Food Preparation Areas 1.2 0.4
Hotel Lobby Area 0.95 0.15
Main Entry Lobby 0.95 0.55
Waiting Area 0.8 0.3
Convention, Conference, Multipurpose and Meeting Center Areas 1.2 0.2

As Title 24 continues to reduce the allowable lighting power density, designers will increasingly need to select high-efficiency LED lighting products and incorporate the lighting controls that offer a power adjustment factor (PAF) to achieve compliance. The PAF is a tool that reduces the total calculated wattage of the lighting system, allowing a project to satisfy the LPD restrictions, even if the installed wattage is higher than allowed. 

2. Updated power adjustment factors (PAF)

Title 24 2016 also revamped the types of lighting controls that qualify to provide a PAF by adding two and eliminating three.

Institutional tuning, a lighting control strategy that reduces the maximum output of the luminaires to at least 85 percent, can deliver a 10 percent lighting power allowance credit (5 percent in daylit areas).

The other new PAF rewards the use of daylighting systems capable of turning lights completely OFF when sufficient daylight is available. The new standard removed three PAFs included in Title 24 2013, because the controls are now mandatory. There is no longer an available power adjustment for incorporating partial-ON occupancy sensors in spaces less than or equal to 250 sq. ft., manual dimming, multi-scene programmable controls, or a combination of these measures.

Two of the pre-existing PAF options remain. Using occupant sensing controls in open office spaces larger than 250 sq. ft. and incorporating demand responsive control in buildings with less than 10,000 sq. ft. continue to be tools for lighting power reductions in Title 24 2016.

3. Multi-level lighting controls clarification

The multi-level lighting requirements have been simplified. While the number of required control steps or lighting levels is still based on the type of the luminaire (detailed in Table 130.1-A), the need to also choose one of five multi-level control strategies (manual dimming, tuning, lumen maintenance, automatic daylighting or demand response) has been removed. Now, the space must provide the multiple lighting levels (as defined by Table 130.1-A), and the local controls must enable occupants to activate all the required control steps. If the lighting is dimmable, the manual control must be a dimmer that includes On and Off.

4. Occupancy sensor controls changes and clarification

Occupancy sensors are now required to respond more quickly to a vacancy. Sensors must turn lights OFF, or partially OFF, within 20 minutes of a space becoming vacant. The 2013 standard required a response within 30 minutes.

The new standard also provides clarification on how occupancy sensors should turn the lights ON in different types of space. In spaces required to have multi-level lighting, the occupancy sensors can turn lights partially ON (activating to between 50 percent and 70 percent) or perform in vacancy mode, which requires that lights be turned ON manually. Occupancy sensors in areas not required to offer multiple lighting levels can turn lights ON to 100 percent or offer a partial-ON or manual ON solution.

5. New indoor lighting alterations threshold

The section that addresses indoor lighting system alterations has been revamped and reorganized. There are now three categories to classify the lighting project: entire luminaire alterations, luminaire component modifications, and lighting wiring alterations.

Entire luminaire alteration requirements are triggered when at least 10 percent of the existing luminaires are removed and reinstalled. The compliance threshold for indoor luminaire component modifications has been raised from 40 luminaires to 70 luminaires, allowing more maintenance projects to avoid triggering a broader need for compliance with new LPD and controls requirements. There are two project types that are exempt from lighting alteration requirements: projects where asbestos may be disturbed during construction and projects that alter two or fewer luminaires in an enclosed space.

With Title 24 2019 in the pre-rulemaking stage and expected to go into effect January 1, 2020, the current version of the California Energy Code will define compliant design for the next two-and-a-half years. The lower LPDs and greater degrees of controllability required by the current code should continue to improve the overall efficiency of the built environment, while the clarifications should enable designers to achieve compliance with a little less confusion.