New Energy-Efficiency Codes

A new era has begun in the whole building industry, beginning with California and the 2005 California Energy Code (CEC), California Code of Regulations Title 24, Part 6, affectionately referred to simply as Title 24.

This document ensures that every new and remodeled home is “energy efficient,” saving the environment, electricity, gas, fuel oil and your client’s utility bills.

This type of regulation often spreads throughout the country, even if it begins in only one section of it. This regulation may affect you where you live in the near future.

The 2005 CEC covers all occupancy groups and applies to the building envelope, space-conditioning systems, water-heating systems, outdoor lighting systems and signs located either indoors or outdoors.

There are concerns that will be voiced when building to these standards. However, the best way to address them is to view them as positive and to institute them before they are mandated.

All equipment, appliances and devices that are regulated by the code must be certified by the manufacturer as meeting the energy standards. Although insulation, windows and doors, water heaters, and appliances of all types are regulated, the single issue that seems to present the biggest challenge is lighting.

Under the new regulations, all high efficacy luminaries shall contain only high efficacy lamps and shall not contain a medium screw base socket. And all ballasts for lamps greater than 13 watts shall be electronic and have an output frequency no less than 20 kHz. This means there will not be the typical hum common with traditional fluorescent lights.

The definition of high efficacy in the code:

  • Lamps 15 watts or less, minimum 40 lumens per watt (LPW)
  • Lamps 15 to 40 watts, minimum 50 LPW
  • Lamps over 40 watts, minimum 60 LPW

The information of the lumen rating and wattage of the lamps is available on the packaging. By dividing the lumens by the watts, you will determine the LPW, i.e., (32 watt quad lamp) 1,800 (lumens) ÷ 32 (watts) = 56.25 LPW

Low voltage lighting commonly used for accent lights does not count as high efficacy due to the power consumption of the transformers, which are rated at 150, 300, or 600 watts.

The most talked about issue is the requirement that up to 50 percent of the total rated wattage may be standard luminaries (screw base) if the luminaries that are not high efficacy are on a separate switch. If there is only one switch for all lighting in the kitchen, all the luminaries must be high efficacy.

Lighting a kitchen can be a challenge when it comes to the colorization, so it is important to know the different aspects of the Kelvin temperatures of the bulbs that you specify.

The compact fluorescent bulbs typically are available in four temperatures (how warm or cool the light is). The warmest (and closest to incandescent) is 2,700 followed by 3,000, 3,500 and 4,000, with 4,000 being the coolest. The warmer the Kelvin rating the more red the light appears, the cooler the more blue. By choosing the best temperature bulb for the design of the room and the foods prepared in it, you can influence your client’s attitude toward their new kitchen. Additionally, the new compact fluorescent lights can be dimmable.

Although there is a variety of lighting choices for high efficacy lighting, there are no complete standards of choice across manufacturers. All the manufacturers of recessed high efficacy lighting produce a 13 watt can in various configurations. The dimmable can seems to begin with a 18-watt unit, with some manufacturers offering 26-, 32-, and 42-watt units. The most versatile is the 42-watt dimmable as it will accept three different bulbs, 26, 32, or 42 watts, each with four Kelvin temperatures available. With the dimming feature, you can provide your client with the optimum lighting choices for their individual needs.

Other important information is the Color Rendering Index (CRI). The CRI indicates how realistically colored objects will appear under a light source. Incandescent, halogen and daylight sources render objects well and are given a score of 100, a perfect score. The minimum acceptable CRI for a lamp choice is 70, but the higher the better. Low pressure Sodium street lights have a 3 CRI, high pressure sodium street lights a 20 CRI, old warm white fluorescent lights a 52 CRI with old cool white at 62CRI. The new color corrected fluorescent lamps carry an 82 CRI.

By knowing how to “read” the lamp coding of fluorescent lamps, you will be better able to recommend the appropriate lamp to your clients. For example if your are looking for incandescent color with an excellent CRI, use F32T8/830, and likewise if you need a cool light with excellent CRI use, F32T8/841.

The 8 in the code refers to the CRI in the 80s, and the last two digits refer to color temperature: 30 means 3,000°K (warm); 35 means 3,500°K (neutral); and 41 means 4,100°K (cool).

For good CRI, you could use lamps with a first number of 7, indicating a CRI in the 70s.

Not all lamp manufacturers call their lamps out using the first number, so be sure you familiarize yourself with the coding of your favorite lamp company.

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