With proper understanding of the California Energy Code and a firm grasp on lighting control technology, third party review of lighting control systems can save projects tens of thousands of dollars during design and through operation.

Lighting controls can be an expensive part of the project budget. Interior and exterior lighting are required to meet strict control requirements in Section 110.9 – Mandatory Requirements for Lighting Controls of the CA Energy Code. This includes, but is not limited to individual devices or systems consisting of two or more components, such as:

• Automatic and Astronomical Time-Switch, and Multi-Level Time-Switch
• Daylighting Controls
• Dimmers
• Occupant, Motion, and Vacancy sensors, including those with a Partial-ON or Partial-OFF function

Oftentimes lighting controls are overspecified because either the subcontractor or the lighting control manufacturer supporting the design are not reviewing code requirements properly. Their caution and/or fear of having the building official reject a lack of controls may lead to excessive equipment purchasing. By being very familiar with codes and construction standards, we have saved projects $60,000 to $200,000 on control equipment. 

Below are two major changes in the 2019 Energy Code, both of which aim to increase the efficiency of lights and controls, return on investment (ROI), and opportunities to earn voluntary program credit.

Major Change 1:

As of January 1, 2020 (when the 2019 code cycle kicked in), lighting power allowances were reduced by 37% for the complete building method, and by 29% for the area category method. This is based on the assumption that all new construction, additions and alterations will be installing light-emitting diode (LED) systems. 1 When adding controls to LED, this can potentially save close to 70% or more on operating costs compared to conventional compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) systems. The California Energy Commission (CEC) estimates that this will be the single largest saving in the 2019 Energy Standards.1 For projects with 100% LED, credit can be earned through voluntary programs such as LEED, CHPS, WELL or utility rebates.

Design-wise, through voluntary programs such as WELL, we learn that light quality and controls influences the human body in non-visual ways; the stimulus is connected to our body clock. A great design will combine daylight and artificial light, plus control glare and color so occupants don’t feel discomfort in a way that adversely affects their work performance.

Major Change 2:

Lighting efficiency can be taken for credit in the energy model in nonresidential spaces by following the power adjustment factors (PAFs), but these are rarely pursued because prescriptive values are easier to input and/or lighting control design will come later. This means that many projects, especially those only wanting to meet minimum requirements, can value engineer these systems. For projects pursuing a third-party green certification, the 2019 code cycle may encourage a new approach. 

This year the addition of three PAFs may contribute to LEED Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) credits of controlled lighting, thermal comfort, daylight, and views. Together with the options from the 2016 code cycle, there will be a total of seven PAFs: 

1. Daylight Dimming plus OFF Control
2. Occupancy Sensing Controls in Large Open Plan Offices
3. Institutional Tuning
4. Demand Responsive Control
5. Clerestory Fenestration (NEW)
6. Horizontal Slats (NEW)
7. Light Shelves (NEW)

Typically, only one PAF may be used for each qualifying luminaire unless specified otherwise. However, any luminaire that is adjacent to these façade features is eligible for the credit. Moreover, these credits may be combined with the credit of “Daylight Dimming plus OFF Control.”

For more information pertaining to California Code requirements, voluntary programs, and operation and maintenance improvement, please contact our principal, Moe Fakih. We’re here to help.

For more information, visit vca-green.com.

Reference: 1. https://cltc.ucdavis.edu/sites/default/files/files/publication/Whats-New-2019-T24-Non-Residential-Final.pdf