Building for the Future Part IV: 2018 IECC Electrical System Updates

Building for the Future Part IV: 2018 IECC Electrical System Updates

In Part I, Part II and Part III of our Building for the Future blog posts we gave a general overview, building envelope and mechanical updates of the 2018 IECC. Now it’s time to shed a little light on the 2018 IECC electrical system updates for Commercial lighting.

Thomas Edison built the first power plant, and in 1882 his Pearl Street Power Station sent electricity to 85 buildings. People were initially afraid of electricity, and now, more than 13 decades later, we not only embrace it but could not provide vital day-to-day services without it.

Commercial lighting is used in spaces such as:

  • offices
  • stores
  • manufacturing
  • institutions
  • hospitals and
  • government buildings to name a few.

Schemmer_2018 IECC_Electrical Changes Commercial lighting

Compared to other types of lighting, commercial lighting tends to have a:

  • higher initial cost,
  • longer lifespan,
  • better durability,
  • higher maintenance and service costs, and
  • better energy-saving options.

Updates Include Lighting Controls

The 2018 IECC lighting control sections have been updated to push more stringent energy efficiency technologies and strategies, and more areas within buildings must now include lighting controls.

“In the past, lighting and control design had some challenges to meet the energy code mandates. Each code update cycle added new challenges, and the 2018 IECC update is no different. Fortunately, manufacturers have been proactive in increasing efficiencies of luminaires, and increasing functionality of, and simplifying the specification and use of lighting controls, making these challenges more manageable,” said Joe Binge, PE, Schemmer’s Electrical Manager.

2018 IECC Electrical System Updates

Let’s break a few of the updates down by code section:

  • C405.2.1 - Occupancy Sensors
    Now required in more specific locations including break rooms, enclosed offices, open office plan areas, and warehouse storage areas. Also, these sensors must auto-OFF lighting after 20 minutes of vacancy (2009 IECC requires auto-OFF after 30 minutes of vacancy)
  • C405.2.1.3 - Open Office Plan Areas
    Now have their section specifying occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting requirements specific to this application
  • C405.2.2.1 - Automatic Time Switch Controls
    Now required in sales areas and manufacturing facilities, and in all required locations must have an override switch that is in a location readily accessible to occupants
  • C405.2.3 - Daylight Responsive Controls
    Must now activate in spaces with general lighting or zone control general lighting only when occupancy for the same area is detected
  • C405.2.1.1 and C405.2.2.2 - Dwelling Units
    Must now comply with motion sensor and light reduction control requirements
  • C405.2.6 - Exterior Lighting Controls
    Now required to activate auto-OFF no later than one hour after business closing and turn back ON no earlier than one hour before business opening

    • Daylight Shut-Off and Decorative Lighting Shut-Off 
      Now required for exterior lighting
  • C405.3.2 Interior Lighting Power Allowance
    Lighting Power Densities (LPD) have been decreased

“Lighting design has always been a science and an art, and meeting the requirements of the energy codes extends the science to new levels. A design must meet the main intent of the code – to decrease energy use. But in the end, it’s the job of the designer to do this and give users a comfortable and functional space,” said Binge.

Stay tuned for our final blog in this series to learn more about the 2018 IECC and commissioning.

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Sources: Leviton; Cooper Industries; Eaton; Designing Buildings Wiki;