Control & Automation

New, Tougher Title 24 Energy Standards Take Effect in California

California's new Title 24 energy standard took effect on July 1 calling for a 25 percent reduction in residential lighting, HVAC and water use. Specific sections address lighting control compliance, including requirement to create a homeowner's manual of documentation. The law adds $2,000 to typical home construction costs.

Integrators across California must comply with new tougher energy management requirements for new homes based on the state's updated Title 24 law that is now in effect.
Jason Knott · July 2, 2014

As of yesterday, California integrators have a renewed reason to start pushing energy management systems for their clients in new homes, but they will have an extra layer of compliance to abide by when installing a lighting control system in a newly built home, including requirement of the creation of a homeowner’s manual documenting your installation.

The newly updated 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24) took effect on July 1, calling for 25 percent less energy consumption for residential buildings and 30 percent savings for nonresidential buildings compared to the original 2008 Energy Standards.

“These new Title 24 standards will help California buildings function beautifully and economically. The most effective way to optimize building performance is during construction,” says Commissioner Andrew McAllister who oversees the Energy Commission’s energy efficiency division. “Standards are a foundational part of California’s long-term goals for meeting our energy needs, conserving resources and protecting the environment.”

The 2013 standards update codes for lighting, space heating and cooling, ventilation, and water heating. These standards add approximately $2,000 to the new residential building construction costs. Estimated energy savings to homeowners, however, is more than $6,000 over 30 years. In total, these standards are estimated to save 200 million gallons of water (equal to more than 6.5 million wash loads) and avoid 170,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

The significant changes to the Building and Standards code are the first update since California’s energy agencies agreed upon a Zero-Net Energy goal: all new residential buildings by 2020 and new nonresidential buildings by 2030. The 2016 and 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards will move the state even closer to the Zero-Net Energy goal.

From an integrator’s perspective, the new residential standards call for the following requirements for lighting:

Kitchens—At least half the installed wattage of luminaires in kitchens shall be high efficacy. However, lighting installed inside cabinets may not be required to be included in the wattage calculation that determines whether half of the installed wattage is high efficacy.

Bathrooms—At least one luminaire in each bathroom must be high efficacy. All other luminaires in a bathroom must be either high efficacy, or controlled by vacancy sensors.

Garages, Laundry Rooms, and Utility Rooms—All luminaires must be high efficacy, and must be controlled by a vacancy sensor.

Other Rooms—This classification applies only to rooms that are not kitchens, bathrooms, garages, laundry rooms, closets, or utility rooms. All installed luminaires shall either be high efficacy or shall be controlled by a vacancy sensor or dimmer. Closets that are less than 70 swuare feet are exempt from this requirement.

Outdoor Lighting: Single Family —In single-family residences, all luminaires mounted to the building (or to other buildings on the same lot) shall be high efficacy luminaires, or shall be controlled by a motion sensor and also by a photocontrol, astronomical time clock, or energy management.

Outdoor Lighting: Multifamily —Outdoor lighting for multifamily buildings is sometimes subject to the nonresidential outdoor lighting requirements.

Interior Common Areas of Multifamily Buildings—For high-rise multifamily buildings, the lighting of common areas shall comply with the nonresidential lighting requirements. For low-rise multifamily buildings, if the total interior common area of the building equals 20 percent or less of the floor area, common area lighting shall be high efficacy or controlled by an occupant sensor. If the total interior common area of the building equals more than 20 percent of the floor area, common area lighting shall meet the nonresidential lighting requirements.

Parking Lots—The nonresidential outdoor lighting Standards apply to residential parking lots or garages with space for eight or more cars, which are typically for multifamily buildings.

Digging Deeper into Lighting Control Compliance

Residential light fixtures and light sources are classified as being either “high efficacy” or “low efficacy” for the purpose of compliance. It is all based on the wattage, but in general certified LEDs are high efficacy, while uncertified LEDs, CFLs and other forms of lighting are low efficacy.

The residential lighting Standards also have requirements for electronic ballasts, permanently installed night lights, lighting integral to exhaust fans, and lighting switching requirements. Luminaires that are recessed into ceilings shall have airtight housings to prevent conditioned air escaping into the ceiling cavity or attic, or unconditioned air infiltrating from the ceiling or attic into the conditioned space. Luminaires that are recessed into insulated ceilings are required to be rated for insulation contact so that insulation can be placed over them.

Meanwhile, lighting control systems must be certified by the state Energy Commission. Lighting control systems are defined as systems that have a dimmer, vacancy sensor, or a multi-scene programmable controller. Also, any time an integrator installs a lighting control system in compliance with Title 24, “a licensee of record must fill out and sign an Certificate of Installation in accordance with the requirements. If the Certificate of Installation is not submitted, the lighting control system shall not be recognized for compliance with the Standards.”

  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at

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  Article Topics

Control & Automation · Lighting · News · Title 24 · All Topics
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