California Building Energy Efficient Standards for Nonresidential Buildings has specific requirements to install lighting controls for “new” and “altered” general lighting. “New” lighting is pretty easy to understand. Construct a new building or build out a new space, and you are required to install automatic lighting controls.

But what exactly constitutes an “alteration”?

An alteration is a change to your existing lighting that replaces, removes, relocates, or in some cases, repairs your general lighting. General lighting is used to allow people to walk and work in your building. Accent lighting for art, exit lighting, signs, message boards, decorative lighting and the like have their own requirements but are not general lighting like your overhead pendants, troffers, and can lights.

The Energy Code is complex and confusing with numerous exceptions and alternatives, but if you remember these 5 fundamental concepts, you’ll understand most of what lighting controls you’ll need:

  1. Shut-Off Controls – You need to be able to manually turn off lights in a room.
  2. Multi-Level Controls – Higher power lights in rooms 100 square feet or larger need to be dimmable.
  3. Occupancy or Time Switch Controls – Lights need to turn off or dim automatically when the area is vacant.
  4. Daylighting or Photocell Controls – If enough daylight is available, the lights should dim or be off.
  5. Automatic Demand Response – If the utility company is facing a power shortage, the utility company should be able send out a signal that automatically dims building lights just a little to prevent a blackout.

In almost every case, the above controls will require an Acceptance Test by a State Certified Technician. We advise close oversight if you are allowing the installer to conduct acceptance testing on their own work.

Modifications and Alterations currently include:

  • More than 69 fixtures being modified in a year per floor or 3 or more fixtures per room. Example: Fluorescent to LED retrofits in the existing housing.
  • 10% or more or three fixtures per room per year altered by relocating, replacing, or changing in a material way. Example: Taking out troffers in an office and installing can lights instead, or installing a demising wall and shifting over the existing fixtures.
  • Acceptance testing is required when 20 or more fixtures are being controlled by 1 or more new controllers.

VCA Green offers consultation to help prevent being under or over-sold lighting controls on your next building. We also offer technology agnostic, independent acceptance testing so you can contract your favorite electrician to perform the installation.

For more information on how to meet Title 24 Lighting Controls compliance, or to inquire about our other services, please contact us below.

Wayne Alldredge, Associate Director


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