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Contractor’s Corner: California 2013 Title 24

By Stan Walerczyk

Although this column focuses on the California 2013 Title 24, which is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014, other states often copy California.

Title 24 includes interior and exterior lighting, controls, HVAC, building envelope, etc.

For lighting retrofit, existing and previous Title 24 was not a big concern because it was only required if more than 50% of the fixtures were replaced. Also, if there was some kind of bi-level lighting that had to be maintained, and checker boarding was allowed.

But the upcoming Title 24 treats retrofits just like new construction and is much more stringent in general. For example, checker boarding lighting will no longer be allowed.

I think that the new Title 24 could decimate the lighting retrofit industry and also other energy saving retrofits. It could also reduce the number of new non-residential buildings built in California.

There are even rumors of some contractors who are considering moving out of the state or planning to totally shut down.

At least for lighting retrofits, I have and will continue to present seminars for Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and maybe others to provide tools so lighting retrofits may still be cost effective. For example if lighting power densities in watts per square foot are low enough, dimming, daylight harvesting and advanced controls will not be necessary. Another example is if power density is less than .5 watts per square foot, bi-level lighting is not required in many applications.

After talking with an engineering firm recently, I am concerned about advanced controls for lighting and other measures, because if something goes wrong with those complex controls, the building owner’s lawyer may take legal action against everybody involved, including the contractor. Even if you win the case, you can lose a lot time and money over an extended period of time in the process.

If you have any projects in California, which could start in early 2014, you may be able to get an existing Title 24 permit and live with those requirements, which are much easier to deal with.

New construction could also be reduced in California, which could affect the number of construction jobs and the jobs of people who would work in those restaurants, stores, offices, etc. after they are completed. For example, let’s say a national chain is planning to build a new store in California or another state, and the profits should be about the same. The chain has standard building plans it can use in another state, but would have to develop new plans for California and go through the Title 24 process. Where do you think that this chain will build?

One potential job opportunity for contractors in California is Certified Lighting Controls Acceptance Test Technician (CLCATT). It is my understanding that the IBEW has been promoting it. Title 24 lighting and controls projects will require a CLCATT certification, and they should often be involved pretty much start to finish.

Currently there are about 150 CLCATTs, and 300 is the minimum total before they are required.

My good friend Charles Knuffke at WattStopper put a presentation together on Title 24 standards. Click here to download the PDF.

A presentation by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is also available. Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.

In addition, some of the California utilities and other organizations have been providing training for this.

Distributors may be able to help contractors with training dates, locations, etc.

As mentioned at the end of all of my columns, contractors, please send me feedback and input for new columns. My email is stan@lightingwizards.com.

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