Title 24 Building Codes

what is Title 24?

This article is telling some helpful information on Title 24 building codes. So, Title 24 is a set of building codes that is having a big impact on the way lighting and controls are used in California buildings. The latest update to the code was released on July 1, 2014. The FAQ and Glossary listed below aren’t an exhaustive resource but will help you familiarize yourself with the changes.

Title 24 California Building Standards Code is a broad set of requirements for “energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety, and accessibility” that apply to the “structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems” in a building. Title 24 was published by the California Building Standards Commission and applies to all buildings in California, not just state-owned buildings.

Updates of 2014

Title 24 code became much more stringent on July 1, 2014. Here is a brief summary of the updates of 2014:

  • Mandatory multi-level lighting controls require more steps.

  • Some spaces now require bi-level occupancy controls.

  • In all buildings except offices, lighting must be shut off completely during unoccupied times.

  • Daylighting controls are required in more applications.

  • The trigger for when Title 24 applies is more stringent.

  • Demand responsive controls are required in all buildings at least 10,000 square feet.

Title 24 Requirements

One of the most frequently asked questions is: Does it affect lighting and how do I know if my lighting project triggers Title 24 requirements? 

Yes. Title 24 is a set of codes that has a significant impact on lighting and lighting controls used in a building or space. Title 24 applies to you if you are modifying, moving, replacing, or disconnecting and reconnecting at least 10% or 40 light fixtures in a room and you are pulling a permit for your project. Generally speaking, routine maintenance does not trigger Title 24 compliance.

Title 24 Lighting Power Density (LPD) requirements basically define the maximum wattage of lighting that you can use in your building or space. As a general example, the “LPD” of a 10,000 square foot building that uses 7,800 watts of lighting would be 0.78 watts per sqft.

The amount (wattage) of general lighting that you can have under Title 24 depends on the type of building and room. If you are planning a permitted project, we can help you determine if your lighting plans fit within the Title 24 rules. Please fill out the short form on our Title 24 details page, and we will contact you promptly.

Lighting Control Requirements

Do you know what lighting controls are required by Title 24? Lighting control requirements generally apply to spaces greater than 100 sqft using more than 0.5 watts of lighting per sqft. Every applicable space must have lighting controls based on the fixture type. Here’s the detail:


What Type of Fixture Do You Have?

The Control Requirement

  • Line Voltage Incandescent & Halogen

  • Low Voltage Incandescent & Halogen Systems

  • LED Lamps & LED Systems

Continuous Dimming 10% - 100%

  • GU-24 Sockets Rated for Fluorescent >20W

  • Pin-Based Compact Fluorescent (CFL) >20W

Continuous Dimming 20% - 100%

  • GU-24 Sockets Rated for Fluorescent <=20W

  • Pin-Based Compact Fluorescent (CFL) <=20W

  • Linear & U-Bent Fluorescent <=13W

Minimum of One Reduction Step Between 30% and 70%

(Stepped Dimming, Continuous Dimming, or Switching Alternate Lamps in a Fixture)

    Linear & U-Bent Fluorescent >13W

Minimum of Four Steps of Light Levels at:

20% to 40%

50% to 70%

80% to 85%


(Stepped Dimming, Continuous Dimming, or Switching Alternate Lamps in a Fixture)

Track Lighting

Minimum of One Reduction Step Between 30% and 70%

(Stepped Dimming, Continuous Dimming, or Switching Alternate Track Circuits)

  • HID >20W & Induction >25W

  • Other Light Sources


Minimum of One Reduction Step Between 50% and 70%

(Stepped Dimming, Continuous Dimming, or Switching Alternate Lamps in a Fixture)


Exterior Light Fixtures in TItle 24

What is required of exterior light fixtures in Title 24? Title 24 specifies requirements for backlight, uplight, and glare requirements for exterior light fixtures based on where you are located. These requirements are sometimes referred to as “BUG” ratings. Title 24 exterior lighting control requirements (see paragraph above) are also important to consider.

Collection of Energy Standards

As a conclusion - Title 24 is a collection of energy standards that address the energy efficiency of new (and altered) homes and commercial buildings. Since 1978, California residents are required to meet the energy efficiency standards contained in Title 24, Part 6 of the California Code of Regulations. Because energy efficiency reduces energy costs, increases reliability and availability of electricity, improves building occupant comfort, and reduces impacts to the environment, this has made a big impact on how lighting and other home fixtures are used in California.

As these standards are important and necessary for California’s energy future, the goal of the California Title 24 energy standards is the reduction of energy use to benefit all. Homeowners save money, California has a more secure/healthy economy, the environment is less negatively impacted, and electrical systems are more stable.

California’s building efficiency standards have saved more than $70 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978.

Title 24 compliance in California

All homes and commercial buildings must achieve Title 24 compliance in California. Any new homes, or the remodeled part of new homes that require building permits, are also subject to these standards.

Within these standards includes guidelines for lighting. According to Title 24, at least 50% of the wattage in the kitchen must be consumed by high-efficacy lighting, which usually includes LEDs and fluorescents. To qualify as high-efficacy, light fixtures must be certified by the manufacturer to the California Energy Commission and can’t contain a socket that allows low-efficacy lighting, such as an incandescent. LED fixtures must offer a minimum of 90 on the color-rendering index (CRI), which measures crispness and color accuracy. Also, the color temperature must range between 2700-4000k for indoor use.

High-efficacy lighting is also defined as:

  • 15 watts or less: Minimum of 40 lumens/watt

  • 15 to 40 watts: Minimum of 50 lumens/watt

  • More than 40 watts: Minimum of 60 lumens/watt