California Title 24 Part 6: What it Means for You
Lighting accounts for roughly 18% of energy consumption in non-residential buildings across the country. Following heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, this is the second highest contender in energy use in commercial buildings.
In states like California with dense populations and concentrated commercial and industrial areas, that number reaches roughly 30% - which is staggering. (Reading that makes me feel like the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn, only I’m yelling to turn off your lights.) But the reason isn’t entirely due to population: it is also because California is more temperate so citizens don’t use as much energy on HVAC.
When tasked with discovering a solution in California, rather than compromising the power or quality of lighting, the state decided to implement and enforce Title 24 Part 6 in its California Code of Regulations in 1978.
In an effort to reduce energy use across the state, these continually updated standards became known as the Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Title 24 Part 6, specifically, contained all of the codes which addressed improving energy efficiency in lighting systems and HVAC systems.
These standards, updated on a 3 year cycle, effectively ushered in a new era of lighting in California non-residential buildings. As of January 1, 2017, California enforced the 2016 sustainability standards.
Dissecting California Title 24 Part 6
Put simply, Title 24 Part 6 requires that all lighting systems and HVAC systems in non-residential buildings (with limited exceptions) require switching or control capabilities to turn off when unoccupied. This is accomplished by either:
an occupancy sensor or
a scheduled controller with an override capability
The same is true for electrical outlets.
The focus of Title 24 Part 6 is to reduce energy usage by limiting HVAC usage, light usage, and other device usage when the space is not occupied.
And if you’re reading this and telling yourself that this doesn’t affect you, here’s why you’re wrong.
How Does Title 24 Part 6 Affect Interior Designer and Furniture Manufacturing?
When designing spaces, whether conference rooms, office spaces, university lecture halls, hotel rooms, or any other space designed around humans, lighting plays an imperative role. You could be designing for a romantic mood, a state of flow for focused work, or any other tone - but you define that tone with lighting.
So what does Title 24 Part 6 have to do with your designs and spaces?
A controlled outlet must be located within 6 ft of any uncontrolled outlets.
Hospitality Guest Rooms:
A minimum of half of the outlets in each hotel or motel guest room must be a controlled receptacle.
Open Office Spaces:
A controlled outlet is required in each workstation in addition to the rules for Office Settings.
Only clocks installed higher than 6 ft, IT equipment such as printers, and refrigerator or water dispenser outlets do not require controlled circuits in non-residential buildings.
Even as a non-designer or non-engineer working for a design-related company, it is crucial to understand California Title 24 Part 6. Knowing your audience when planning upcoming product launches, marketing material, website content, and product innovation require that you not only speak the language but that you understand the language. So immerse yourself.
And it’s worth mentioning that California is just the beginning. While these rules may seem remote to you as a designer in Massachusetts, Michigan, or Florida, your state could be next.