Energy Code Changes That Will Affect Lighting in 2020

As we learn more about the environmental impacts associated with our power consumption, energy codes across the country continue to evolve. However, these changes can be complicated and overwhelming. Below, the experts from Action Services Group help to breakdown some of the most recent changes being made across the country.

Energy Code Changes by State

Energy codes vary from state to state. While every state will have its own take on energy codes, some states are taking bigger steps toward change than others. California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and New York are five of those states. With that being said, let’s take a look at how these five states are updating their energy codes in 2020.

Energy Codes for California – Title 24

California prides itself on being continually on top of the green movement. In fact, they regularly update Parts 6 and 11 of the California Building Standards Code, known as Title 24, every three years. As of 01 January 2020 – Title 24 saw its newest updates take effect. Unlike some states, it should be noted that Title 24 applies to all residential and commercial buildings, not just state-owned structures.

For residential structures, the most important change is the requirement for solar panels to be installed on all new homes. (Some commercial properties, such as low-rise apartment buildings, are also expected to utilize community solar power to supplement energy consumption.)

That being said, Title 24 2020 updates also include three major lighting updates, estimated to reduce non-residential power consumption by up to 30%. These updates are as follows:

  • Lighting Allowances: The new commercial lighting allowances, for both indoor and outdoor illumination, are based on the use of Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights. (You should note that it is illegal to buy both incandescent and halogen lamps in the state of California.)
  • Lighting Controls: Outdoor lighting controls also received updated regulations. In fact, Title 24 2020 update mandates that buildings larger than 10,000 square feet will be required to have demand-responsive lighting controls. These controls must be capable of delivering at least a 15% reduction in the lighting load. This regulation applies to new construction as well as altered or remodeled spaces.
  • Occupancy Sensors: Occupancy sensors are now required for all bathrooms located on commercial properties.

For a look at the recent changes to the California ban on certain lamps, read our blog, Will the 2020 Incandescent Light Bulb Ban Effect You? It covers ALL lamps currently banned in California.


Energy Codes for Georgia – 2015 International Energy Conservation Code, Georgia Amendments

As of 01 January 2020, Georgia’s energy codes received their first major update in nine years. Applicable to both residential and commercial buildings, the state has elected to follow the guidelines included in the Georgia amended 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (2015 IECC). (In addition to this, commercial properties are encouraged, but not required, to follow the 2013 ANSI/ASHRAE/IES (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1.)

The IECC 2015 applies to new construction and renovations. For renovations, if 50% of or more of the lighting is to be replaced, the new fixtures must comply with the more restrictive efficiencies, as well as the required lighting control capabilities. (You should note that, per the IECC 2015, maintenance replacements are considered to be renovations.)

Likely to be the most substantial upgrades that will be required, experts believe the lighting control requirements will lead to the most change. Some of the control requirements properties must meet with, in accordance with the IECC 2015, include:

  • Automatic Shutoff: Interior lighting must be turned off while not in use. This can be accomplished through the use of an occupancy sensor or a time-switch control. (For warehouses, however, this regulation varies slightly. Lighting power must be reduced by 50% at a minimum once an aisle has been vacated. Because of this, each aisle will need to be independently controlled.)
  • Manual Controls: Manual controls must also be installed in all areas, including those with automatic shutoff capabilities.
  • Daylight-Responsive Controls: Certain buildings will require daylight harvesting controls. These need to be calibrated to utilize ambient light, reducing artificial lighting as applicable. All external lighting, however, will be required to be turned off automatically. (A photosensor will likely need to be installed in order to detect daylight levels and power these external lights on and off.)

For a look at industrial lighting solutions, we suggest reading, Your Options for an Industrial LED Lighting Solution.


Energy Codes for Massachusetts – 2018 International Energy Conservation Code

Massachusetts is another state at the forefront of the green movement. In fact, the state was recently named by the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy as the best in the nation for the eighth year running.

Taking effect on 01 January 2020, state regulations align with the 2018 IECC, in addition to the Massachusetts amendments to the ASHRAE 90.1-2016.

The 2018 IECC expands upon the 2015 version. Changes include:

  • Permanently Installed Fixtures: High-efficiency lamps must be permanently installed in 90% of all fixtures. (This increased from 75% in the 2015 version.)
  • Lighting Controls: Daylighting controls have become mandatory for all commercial buildings. (This was limited to certain zones per the 2015 IECC.)

For a look at the benefits of converting your current lighting to LED, we have a new blog series on LED vs. Non-LED Lamps. There are individual blogs for:


Energy Codes for Nebraska – 2018 International Energy Conservation Code

Passed in May 2019, the new energy codes for Nebraska will not take effect until 01 July 2020. However, this marks the first update to the state’s energy codes since 2012. As with Massachusetts, the new Nebraska energy codes will align with the 2018 IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2016. Similar to Georgia, experts agree that the lighting control portions of the 2018 IECC will likely be the most significant changes properties will need to comply with.

However, once in effect, the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance believes these updated energy codes will lead to a 15% energy reduction overall.

Energy Codes for New York – NYStretch Energy Code 2020 Version 1.0 & Energy Conservation Construction Code

New York developed the NYStretch Program to provide jurisdictions throughout the state with recommendations. Although not a requirement, the NYStretch Program aligns their energy code recommendations with the 2018 IECC, as well as the ASHRAE 90.1-2016.

Aiming to help New Yorkers to save an additional 11% on top of the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York, NYStretch provides guidelines that help jurisdictions to meet higher efficiency standards for both new and renovation projects.


For all of our state energy code updates for 2020, Lighting Control Systems are the main reoccurring factor. We have a new blog series designed to help you from an introduction to finalizing your strategies.


Maintaining Compliance with Action Services Group

Energy codes can be complicated and confusing. The experts at Action Services Group, however, have a comprehensive understanding of how these regulations affect your property. Contact Action Services Group today to ensure you maintain compliance with all applicable energy codes in your area.

Call 800-223-0982 or email info@actionservicesgroup.com!

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