Updates to California Energy Codes
November 27, 2012 - 4:43pm
Amendments to Title 24 and Title 20 stand to increase efficiency for a state that recently announced the positive environmental impact of such regulations so far.
California Energy Codes

Energy-efficiency success in California is a big story these days, and new residential lighting standards are playing a big part.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced earlier this month that its energy programs resulted in savings of 5,900 GWh of electricity in 2010-2011 based on utility-reported savings estimates, enough to power more than 600,000 households for a year and more than 1,000 MW, the equivalent of two major power plants. Thirty-four percent of this energy savings came from the residential sector, and 59 percent of the electric savings came from lighting.

Title 24 and Title 20, two standards set by the California Energy Commission (CEC), are anticipated to continue to add to this energy-saving success. Title 24 serves as the basis for design and construction of buildings in California and Title 20 covers appliance efficiency regulations. Both are in the process of being amended for 2013.

Title 24 Updates

The first of these standards, Title 24, is amended every three years to comply with the Warren-Alquist act, which requires that building energy-efficiency standards be updated regularly.

Policy goals for the 2013 Title 24 amendments include net-zero energy levels for residences by 2020, greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2020 and 2050, and a reduction in the average statewide electrical energy consumption by 2018 for indoor residential lighting by at least 50 percent.

According to Gary Flamm, Supervisor, Building Standards Development Unit at the CEC, there are several changes to the 2013 residential requirements in Title 24.

--Currently, in order to determine if an LED luminaire is high- or low-efficacy, an efficacy calculation is used. With the 2013 changes, a default list is provided. “Instead of making people do the math we have a list that will simplify this question for most of the non-lighting people,” Flamm explains.

--In order to be high-efficacy, a luminaire is certified by the manufacturer to the CEC under penalty of perjury, but it has to be a residential fixture. Flamm says there’s been some confusion because a number of luminaires that are certified are not residential. Beyond the efficacy requirement, certification requires a minimum of 90 CRI and a color temperature of 2700K to 4000K for indoor use and 2700K to 5000K for outdoor use.

--Currently, bathrooms have to be outfitted with all high-efficacy luminaires or low-efficacy luminaires on a vacancy sensor. With the 2013 changes, each bathroom must have a minimum of one high-efficacy luminaire, which can be on any kind of switch, and any low-efficacy luminaires have to be on a vacancy sensor.

--Luminaires in any rooms classified as “utility” — which include laundry rooms, garages and utility rooms — have to be both high-efficacy and fitted with vacancy sensors. Previously, the requirement was either/or.

--For low-rise (three stories) multi-family outdoor lighting, the CEC clarified that lighting attached to the building can meet either the residential or non-residential standard and any outdoor site lighting has to meet the non-residential outdoor lighting standard.

--Currently, luminaires in interior common areas of low-rise multi-family buildings have to be high-efficacy or on a motion sensor. In the 2013 changes, if common areas compose less than 20 percent of the building, the requirements are the same. However, if a building is more than 20 percent common area, it is now treated as non-residential.

The 2013 standards were adopted by the Energy Commission on May 31, 2012 and will be printed by the California Building Standard Committee in June 2013. The effective date is Jan. 1, 2014.

With the new 2013 standards, residential energy savings over the 2008 standards will be 23.6 GWh/yr, 1.1 Mtherms/yr and 35 MW. This means a single-family home will be 25 percent more energy-efficient.

Title 20 Updates

Title 20 requires that all regulated appliances sold or offered for sale in California be certified by manufacturers to the CEC. Portable luminaires and light bulbs were affected by Title 20 in 2010, when new requirements mandated that lamps sold in the state have dedicated sockets for fluorescent light sources or be sold with a fluorescent bulb — a solution nicknamed “bulb-in-a-box.”

As an update to Title 20 in 2013, the CEC has proposed a voluntary California Quality LED lamp standard, which would function similarly to an Energy Star® plus standard, according to Flamm. Quality LED lamps would need to meet four requirements: a minimum of 90 CRI (only 2700K and 3000K), dimmability, longevity of more than 25,000 hours, and defined as directional or omni-directional light distribution.

“Our hope with this standard is that the CPUC will direct the utilities to rebate on nothing less that a California Quality lamp,” Flamm explained.

A workshop will be hosted by the CEC on Oct. 11 to discuss the voluntary LED specification. After consideration of comments, the CEC would then approve the Staff Report in November or December of this year. Flamm says that so far, most of the industry members he’s spoken to about this voluntary standard are supportive.

Even the American Lighting Assn. (ALA), which believes that the industry and consumers are better served by universal action, not state/province initiatives, authorized Director of Engineering Terry McGowan to participate on this CEC task force to develop the California Quality LED lamp.

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