Monthly Archives: August 2015

Commissioning Lighting Controls


Lighting controls are becoming more and more complex. Long gone are the days of simple on/off wall switches being the only source of control. Typical control methods now required by energy codes and/or building certification programs (e.g. LEED) include:
  • Occupancy/vacancy sensors
  • Daylight-responsive photosensors
  • Dimming
  • Time switches
  • Whole building programmable systems

To function properly, all of these types of controls must be correctly installed, calibrated, and, in some cases, programmed.

According to the Lighting Controls Association, more than 30% of new buildings have problems with their lighting systems. Many of these issues, they suggest, could be resolved prior to building occupancy through the commission process. We’re all familiar with commissioning – a quality assurance program to ensure that building systems operate as the owner intended. Commissioning of HVAC and associated controls is often the first thing that comes to mind, but the process can be applied to lighting and other systems also.

The latest editions of the International Energy Conservation Code (2015) and LEED (v4) both require lighting systems commissioning. LEED does not have specific requirements, but refers the reader to ASHRAE Guideline 0 – The Commissioning Process. The IECC, which applies to most projects, is more specific and requires verification of the following:

Occupancy (vacancy) sensors

  • Placement and aiming
  • Operation

Time-switch controls

  • Programming
  • Override operation

Daylight responsive photo sensors

  • Location
  • Calibration
  • Operation

Lighting controls are becoming increasingly complicated, mainly due to energy code requirements. With the increased complexity comes more potential for errors during installation. Commissioning can identify controls that may not operate properly so that corrections can be made before a building is occupied.