The Impact of Energy Code on Lighting Design 

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Lighting design is a key component of building design, and it significantly impacts the energy efficiency of a building. Building energy codes help ensure that buildings are designed and constructed to minimize their energy consumption and improve occupants’ comfort. Also, this can save money on energy bills and reduce the environmental impact of buildings. In this blog, we will discuss the role of building energy codes in lighting design and how they can help to improve the energy efficiency a of buildings. 

Earlier, ON/OFF switches or occupancy sensors were majorly used as a control strategy for different space types. The requirements for this fundamental level of automatic control were relatively easy for building owners to accept when the 2007 edition of ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings came into effect. Most owners understood that while space was empty, the lighting did not need to be ON. 

Here is a typical flowchart for the lighting design process for architects, engineers and designers.  

Lighting-design-workflow-old diagram
  • Here, as a first step, architects make a reflected ceiling plan and choose a type or style of lighting for the space.
  • The electrical engineer then would do some lighting calculations to decide the spacing, number and fixture output. This is to select a specific product type to attain the proper lighting level.  
  • Once it’s done, the engineer would then circuit the lighting and apply the basic controls to the layout. Requirements were only for automatic lighting shut-off, including some specific spaces requiring occupancy sensors.  

However, Michigan and many other Midwestern states’ architectural, engineering, and construction sectors have not dealt with the design, specification, and construction difficulties brought on by these restrictions. 

Lighting control strategy to meet design challenges 

With the introduction of new lighting control requirements, contractors and suppliers start facing challenges with procuring, pricing, installing complex lighting control systems. With the introduction of ASHRAE 90.1-2013, Electrical engineers and contractors had to shift the typical lighting design workflow to incorporate requirements like bi-level lighting control, daylight responsive control and manual ON. But they have faced several design challenges such as: 

  • Primary and secondary daylighting is required for the area adjacent to a window when light fixtures cross over both daylight zones. 
  • General lighting in the primary and secondary areas should be independently controlled. 
  • Implementing code requirements is dealing with different space types that are open to one another. 

By initially identifying the control requirements, electrical engineers, designers, and architects can benefit from changing the workflow which has been used for years. This comprises the control requirements mandated by the energy code and the owner’s programmatic requirements. Once they are defined and accepted, the overlay of architectural ceiling systems, coves, and details can satisfy the various control requirements.  

In our previous blog, we have discussed six important lighting control strategies that can be used for residential, commercial, and industrial applications to reduce energy consumption. Click here to read.

The next step is to choose and position lighting fixtures to support the control zones and the ceiling’s architectural features. Calculations for lighting can then be done, and wiring can then be done for the lights. 

Lighting-design-workflow-new diagram

In the revised workflow chart, the lighting control strategy is placed at the first stage of the process. A slight modification in the workflow has streamlined the process efficiently. 

  • Lighting preferences constantly change from project to project or country to country; therefore, lighting control strategies must be considered in the first phase of lighting design.
  • This will help to narrow down the range of lighting products suitable for the design of the architectural ceiling.  
  • Determine various lighting scenarios, types of luminaires, consideration of other building systems, and daylight and energy-saving strategies in parallel with the lighting design process.
  • Thus, it is possible to avoid making expensive adjustments to ordinary products to meet the energy code’s criteria. 

Title 24 lighting requirements are all about making commercial and residential building lighting design energy-efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly. Read here.

Conclusion 

A greater understanding of codes facilitates greater flexibility in a lighting design. It is important for lighting designers to have a thorough understanding of the codes and regulations that apply to their projects to ensure that the lighting design meets all necessary requirements. It ensures that the lighting systems in a space meet the necessary safety, energy efficiency, and accessibility standards. By following the relevant codes and regulations, lighting designers can create functional and aesthetically pleasing lighting systems that meet the needs of the space and its users.  

Want to take your lighting design skills to the next level and stay up-to-date on the latest energy code requirements? Feel free to contact us

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