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Codes + Standards

Jim Benya on Energy Codes

Writing for LD+A, Jim Benya argues that lighting energy codes have reached a mission accomplished stage in terms of energy conservation. Energy codes, he says, did what they intended to do, stating that by 2013, LPD had dropped 80% compared to 1973, while operating hours were reduced by two-thirds.

He writes:

We have reached a point where our reason and approach to lighting energy codes must change. A good code should prevent bad design, embracing evolving emerging technology, but it must also respect good design and reduce the heavy cost of compliance. We need to realize how well we’ve done and stop trying every three years to make the lighting code tighter. We’ve done our job as an industry. We cannot save 100 percent of energy, can we? Let’s stop the triannual race and pay more attention to the need for cost effectiveness. Since we are approaching “perfect,” continuing to try saving the last few percentage points will degenerate the lighting energy code and compliance into a racket.

Instead, rather than continuing to pour enormous resources into new lighting energy codes, we should redirect our brainpower and businesses toward reducing energy use in existing buildings. It’s time to say for new construction the job is done, and work together to make just as big a difference in the existing building stock as quickly as possible.

I think he’s onto something here. From here on out, energy codes would do better to increase compliance, while the industry should focus on the vast energy-savings potential in existing buildings.

  • Gretchen Schimelpfenig June 15, 2018, 9:11 AM

    Hi, I am a commissioning agent that works on lighting retrofits and lighting & controls installs in new C&I construction projects. I agree that code compliance is an important focus for the industry. However, I am confused; why would we want to stop decreasing LPD code requirements when LED technology is increasing efficacy every month? As lumens/watt for new fixtures continues to increase, allowable LPDs must continue to decrease. This does not detract from efforts focused on existing buildings, and these targets directly affect renovation projects, of which there are many.

    In our commissioning activities, it is becoming routine to find new construction and renovation projects designing to 20% lower than LPD allowances and despite that, having constructed spaces with >100% IESNA illuminance targets. Something has to move the needle, and codes should continue to do so. LPD targets correlate with energy savings and occupant comfort, why stop lowering them as technology advances?

    Check out our blog here for more of our writing on the topic:


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