Amp Up Lighting Controls Now - Important Energy Deadline Looming for Commercial Buildings

With more stringent building codes on the way, new buildings and many retrofits need to implement better and more extensive lighting control.

Amp Up Lighting Controls Now - Important Energy Deadline Looming for Commercial Buildings
Check out the slide show for examples of lighting control solutions.
Amp Up Lighting Controls Now - Important Energy Deadline Looming for Commercial Buildings
Check out the slide show for examples of lighting control solutions.

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Amp Up Lighting Controls Now - Important Energy Deadline Looming for Commercial Buildings

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If you’re planning a new building or renovation project in the United States in next few years, there’s a good chance your building will have plenty of automated lighting features.

Lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, automated stairwell and exterior lighting, parking garage lighting and automated daylight controls are a big part of more stringent building energy codes set to be put in place by many states this October. For most commercial buildings, lighting amounts to one-third of the electricity used.

In October 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy required that states update their building energy codes to meet or exceed ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) 90.1-2010 codes, which amp up lighting controls over the previous 2007 version. States have a deadline of Oct. 18, 2013 to certify that they have updated the provisions of their commercial building codes regarding energy efficiency.

Similar codes such as 2012 IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) and California’s Title 24 2008 Part 6 are considered as stringent as ASHRAE 90.1-2010.

ASHRAE and IECC codes can be very similar. “A lot of provisions in the ASHRAE codes are proposed and incorporated into IECC and can be considered parallel documents that borrow from each other,” says David Karmol, vice president for Government Relations for the International Code Council (ICC) that develops the IECC and International Building Codes adopted by many states.

“Buildings that are constructed today by the latest energy codes are about 30 percent more efficient than the average new home or building and add only 1 percent to 2 percent in construction costs,” says Eric Lind, vice president of Specification Solutions at
Lutron Electronics.

The ASHRAE 90.1-2010 codes contain a lot more lighting control requirements that were not in the 2007 version, including:

  • Occupancy sensors with manual-on or auto-on to not more than 50 percent in most spaces.
  • Automatic daylight control.
  • Light reduction control (bi-level lighting or dimming).
  • Stairwell lighting control.
  • Functional testing of controls.

The Big Deal in Occupancy Sensing

Under the newer ASHRAE code, the biggest change in lighting control for buildings is far more occupancy sensing. “The addition of occupancy sensor requirements in a number of specific applications is expected to result in significant energy savings,” says Doug Hall, senior product manager for control company AMX. “This is a big deal, as it adds occupancy sensor requirements for many specific applications.”

Nearly every space in a building will require occupancy sensors, such as conference/meeting rooms, training, classrooms and lecture halls, employee lunch and break rooms, storage and


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