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Leveraging Energy Codes in Lighting Projects

Tips |

Approved StampThe savviest lighting designers don’t avoid lighting energy codes, they leverage them to improve project efficiency and the customer’s return on investment. Here are three steps to help you assess—and take advantage of—applicable energy codes for your projects:

  1. Determine when energy codes apply. New construction must always comply with lighting energy codes. For additions to an existing building, lighting energy codes will generally apply to the addition but not to the existing building (as long as the lighting in the existing structure is not altered). Lighting energy codes also apply when an existing building is renovated, or in some cases, when the lighting is retrofitted. In most cases, lighting energy codes must be followed when renovating or altering an existing building that is not designated as historic. There are exceptions and variations to these general guidelines across jurisdictions, so it’s important to understand applicable energy codes wherever you perform a project.
  2. Select the method for code compliance. You can use either the building area method or the space-by-space method to apply lighting energy codes. Each approach has its pros and cons—use the lighting design process to decide which approach is best for your project.
  3. Select luminaires and lighting controls. Once you have completed your lighting assessment, established project goals and criteria, and developed a preliminary design, it is time to select lighting equipment. To ensure the requirements are met, make sure applicable lighting energy codes factor into both your design and equipment decisions.
    • First, consider the connected load. Whether you are planning to use the building area or space-by-space method, there will be limits on the total power that can be applied to the luminaires in your lighting system.
    • These lighting power density limits in w/ft2 are shown in charts within the lighting energy codes. Some jurisdictions also allow additional power for elements like accent lighting in retail stores, while others do not.

While lighting codes can seem burdensome at times, remember that a thoughtful process during design and planning can help you exceed lighting energy codes, provide your customers with additional energy savings, and help your project stand out from the competition.

If you need a refresher on the building area method or space-by-space method, or on any other training topic, simply access the NXT Level courses online after you have earned the designation.