Recently, we attended a seminar hosted at the San Francisco AIA, where we discussed the recent changes to California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, or more commonly, Title 24. The new law, as it relates to lighting and lighting controls, came into effect on July 1, 2014, and has significant impact on the design and build out of new construction, additions AND alterations—pretty much everything we design. To be clear–for our commercial (restaurant and retail) and office clients, the impacts are significant. They will affect the overall cost of your build-out in the short term, but in the long term they will contribute to your energy savings by making non-residential buildings 30% more efficient. These are in addition to the changes made to the 2008 edition of Title 24, where higher efficacy fixtures such as LED’s became the new normal, over incandescents.
Here are a few highlights from the new Standards, specifically as they relate to non-residential commercial and office spaces:


Title 24 now states that ALL interior luminaires (light fixtures) in non-residential buildings must have manual on-off controls, and each area must be independently controlled. Dimmer switches must allow manual on -off functionality, with some exceptions such as public restrooms with two or more stalls, which do not need a publicly accessible switch.
In areas larger than 100 square feet, installed luminaires must:
  • Incorporate multi-level lighting controls or continuous dimming, depending on the lamp type;
  • Have at least one of the following types of controls for each luminaire:
    • Manual continuous dimming and on-off contro
    • Lumen maintenance
    • Tuning
    • Automatic daylighting controls
    • Demand response controls


In the latest Title 24 essentially all non-residential spaces with skylights or windows will require automatic daylighting controls. Simply, this means that virtually every office or commercial space with sky-lights or windows must have photo-sensitive controls that limit when the light fixtures are on. Its an increased up front charge, but it will pay off with reduced power bills.


Occupancy sensors are now required that will automatically turn off all lighting in the following areas during vacant periods:
  • Offices ≤ 250 square feet
  • Conference rooms of any size
  • Multipurpose rooms <1000 square feet
  • Classrooms of any size
  • Secondary spaces
  • Indoor parking areas
  • Corridors and stairwells (reduce lighting power by 50%)
  • Warehouse aisles and open areas (reduce lighting power by 50%)


Technically, a Demand Response is a change in electric usage by end-use customers from their normal consumption patterns at times when system reliability is jeopardized.
In 2008, Title 24 only required demand response capability in retail buildings with sales floor areas ≥ 50,000 square feet. However, the 2013 code expands this considerably, requiring that all non-residential buildings ≥ 10,000 square feet be capable of automatically responding to a demand response signal, so that:
  • Total energy use for lighting can automatically drop to a level at least 15% below the building’s maximum total lighting power.
  • Lighting is reduced in a manner that creates consistent illumination through continuous or step dimming, based on lamp type.


The new Title 24 now adds occupant-sensing controls that are intended to reduce energy use during unoccupied periods and automatically increase light levels when the space becomes occupied. Lighting controls in these areas must automatically reduce lighting power by at least 40%, but not more than 80%, during vacant periods. Additionally, all outdoor incandescent luminaires rated over 100W must be controlled by a motion sensor.
Al in all, Title 24 is good for California and good for our environment. However, implementing it for your project will come with some initial up-front costs that are higher than you  may have anticipated, particularly for projects that are on the smaller scale. It’s best to know this up front so you can budget for them in advance and eliminate any unnecessary surprises later.