Focus on Controls

Changes to California’s Title 24 tighten building energy-efficiency standards

California leads the nation in efforts to conserve energy, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Changes to the state’s mandatory Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency standards — changes that will make commercial buildings 30% more efficient than the previous 2008 standards — are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

The updated standards will have a direct impact on retailers whose portfolio includes stores in California. And for those that don’t operate in the Golden State, keep in mind that California is often a bellwether for the rest of the nation.

The new standards introduce requirements for photosensors, occupancy sensors and multi-level lighting controls, both indoors and out. Indeed, according to the California Lighting Technology Center, new requirements for lighting controls account for one of the biggest changes to Title 24 standards.

The latest version of the standards also includes more stringent requirements for the testing and certification of controls commissioning.

Another key change is that more retrofit projects will be required to meet new-construction standards for both lighting power density and controls than under the 2008 code. The only exceptions: buildings with fewer than 40 ballasts being replaced and spaces where less than 10% of the lighting is affected.

Here is a brief overview of some of the key changes in the 2013 code:

CONTROLS: Under the new standards, all interior luminaires must have manual on/off controls, and each area must be independently controlled. Dimmer switches must allow manual on/off functionality, with some exceptions, including public restrooms with two or more stalls.

The 2013 standards also include new requirements for automatic daylighting controls, requiring that floor plans in buildings over 5,000 sq. ft. have 75% of their total area in daylight zones. Controls requirements have become more stringent in the daylighting zones. Multi-level automatic daylighting controls are required in all sky-lit or side-lit zones where the installed general lighting power is greater than or equal to 120W.

The new code also mandates greater use of occupant-sensing lighting controls in offices, conference rooms and the like. Retailers should take note that, for the first time, occupancy sensors and controls will be required in aisles and open areas in warehouses. Controls must automatically reduce lighting power by 50% in these areas when they are unoccupied.

For the first time, lighting in parking garages must be controlled by occupant-sensing controls, with at least one step between 20% and 50% of full power. The garages will be allowed a maximum of 500W per occupancy sensor. 

DEMAND RESPONSE: Another key change involves demand response capability. The 2008 code only required DR capability in retail stores with sales floor areas greater than or equal to 50,000 sq. ft.

But the new standards expands this significantly, requiring that all non-residential buildings, starting at 10,000 sq. ft., be capable of automatically responding to a DR signal. The end goal is that, when the utility issues the DR signal, the building must be capable of automatically reducing its lighting energy use to a level that is at least 15% below the building’s maximum total lighting power.

COMMISSIONING: Title 24 now requires that a commissioning report be completed and provided to each building owner. Projects that are issued a building permit on or after Jan. 1, 2014, must undergo acceptance testing for automatic daylighting controls, automatic time switch controls, occupancy sensors, outdoor lighting shut-off controls, outdoor motion sensors and demand response controls.

EXTERIOR LIGHTING: All outdoor luminaires up to 150W will have to comply with the IESNA’s BUG system for assessing and limiting backlight, uplight and glare.

Under the 2008 version of Title 24, photocontrols were required for all outdoor lighting. In addition to photocontrols, the 2013 standards also require automatic scheduling controls. And for all lighting mounted 24 ft. above the ground or lower, motion sensor controls will also be required. The controls must be able to automatically reduce lighting power of each luminaire by at least 40% (but not more than 80%) when the lights are not in use.

In addition, there are new requirements for controls with regard to outdoor sales lighting, facades and outdoor dining areas.


California Energy Commission

California Lighting Technology Center

Includes information about Title 24 plus technology updates and lighting design guides for retail and office spaces.

Frequently Asked Questions rulemaking/documents/2013_Building_ Energy_Efficiency_Standards_FAQ.pdf

Contains answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Building Energy Efficiency standards.

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