Code Compliance Made Easy

For decades, a strained energy grid and renewed attention on energy efficiency has been a major focus of the federal government, green building advocates, and building advocates, and building owners who are looking to reduce their energy costs while increasing property value. Driven by Department of Energy mandates, energy codes have evolved to make buildings more efficient and support a more sustainable future, but keeping up with changing building requirements can be daunting for electrical engineers and contractors who have to meet code and their customer's design and performance requirements.

Energy codes are complex. Various standard-writing organizations publish energy standards on a multi-year cycle; states and municipalities subsequently adopt these standards into law at different times, and with irregular frequency. Beyond that, requirements are typically different for renovations versus new construction, and they change by building and space type. This calls for a variety of strategies to be used within each project. We are all better served by buildings designed for energy efficiency, but when it comes to code-compliant lighting control solutions, specifiers and contractors can find themselves scratching their heads:

  • Which code do I need to follow?
  • What strategies do I need to use in each type of space?
  • What are my lighting control options and which is best for this customer?
  • How do I know the system, as commissioned, complies with code and still meets the owner's needs?

This is where your lighting control manufacturer can be a true project partner. Especially when it comes to retrofits, the best solution is one that meets these three criteria - it's simple, cost-effective, and easy to install. Manufacturers can help simplify planning and execution of energy-saving controls by providing resources that take the guess work out of design and selection, as well as product solutions that meet a wide variety of energy codes and performance demands.

Design resources simplify projects from the start

To minimize job frustration, fast-track project timelines, and eliminate callbacks, you first need to understand lighting control requirements for your state and region. Most state codes are based on the IECC or ASHRAE standards. California is the exception to this rule; it uses the California Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards in a concerted effort to ensure buildings achieve energy efficiency and preserve outdoor and indoor environmental quality. California is pushing toward zero net energy by 2020.

It is also essential to understand code as defined by project scope. New construction will always have the most stringent energy compliance requirements. Retrofits often have fewer restrictions, but the threshold for including energy-savings strategies is different within each code. In an effort to help contractors address all these variables, manufacturers like Lutron Electronics have created online energy code look-up resources that lead contractors through the process.

Quick reference guides can be most helpful when contractors are familiar with the code and are looking for suggested product solutions based on total installed cost, simplicity of system design, and basic functional needs of the space.

Product solutions enable simple code compliance and support best practices

Designing a building or space that meets code is a basic requirement. Turn to more comprehensive application guides for lighting control options that not only meet code but include alternate solutions that go beyond minimum compliance to identify best practices and detail solutions.

Using these kinds of resources, contractors can be prepared with up-to-date information on recent codes in each state and arm themselves with guides that clearly define which strategies are most appropriate in each type of space. In some states, there are additional or alternate compliance codes - these requirements can further narrow the appropriate control strategies and minimize compliance questions.

No online resource can guarantee a code-compliant solution - it's essential to verify your selected control strategies with your local authority that has jurisdicti