NYC 2020 Energy Conservation Code: Electrical Power & Lighting Systems

NYC 2020 Energy Conservation Code: Electrical Power & Lighting Systems

By John Lashley

Earlier this year, the New York City Energy Conservation Code (NYCECC) was updated to conform with the 2020 Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York State (ECCCNYS). Last month, we covered new building envelope requirements for commercial buildings.

This article addresses updated requirements for electrical power and lighting systems in commercial buildings.

Electrical Power & Lighting Systems: Commercial Provisions

C405.1 General. The exception for dwelling units in commercial buildings has been removed.

Result: The new code now includes requirements for dwelling units in this section.

C405.2 Lighting controls. A new requirement for Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) has been added.

Result: The update includes a code compliance path for a new technology. LLLC describes a lighting system consisting of one or more luminaires with embedded lighting control logic, occupancy and ambient light sensors, wireless networking capabilities, and, where required, local override switching capability.

C405.2.1 Occupant sensor controls. This section now includes two additional space types: 13) corridors/transition areas and 14) cafeteria and fast food dining areas.

C405.2.1.1 Occupant sensor control function. Lights must automatically turn off 15 minutes after occupants leave a space, reduced from 20 minutes. In addition, item #3 now includes an exception for incorporation of a manual control.

Result: Remote location of a local control is now allowed for safety or security reasons, and schematics must include a path for compliance.

C405.2.2 Time-switch controls. The exception for “sleeping units” has been removed.

Result: Occupancy sensors or light reduction controls are now required in all sleeping units.

C405.2.3 Daylight-responsive controls. The new code has more stringent requirements for spaces that exceed more than 100W of general lighting compared to the 150W-threshold in the 2016 code. In addition, the exception for dwelling and sleeping units has been removed, while an exception for new buildings has been added, as well as a new equation.


  • Sleeping units now require occupancy sensors or light reduction controls.
  • Total lighting power for new buildings complying with C405.3.1 must not exceed Equation 4-9.

C405.2.3.1 Daylight-responive control function. Requirement #4 has been rewritten to include all spaces and no requires a minimum 40% reduction of full design light power, compared to the 15% reduction of the 2016 code. Also, the exception of 150W permitted to be controlled with lighting in daylight zones has been lowered to 100W.

C405.2.4 Specific application controls. Patient care spaces have been added to exceptions.

Result: A new code compliance requirement refers to patient care spaces.

C405.2.6 Exterior lighting controls. Lighting control for dwelling units have been added as an exception. In addition, total wattage of exterior lighting to be reduced 50% by selective off switch or dimming, compared to a 30% reduction in the 2016 code.

C405.3. “Exit signs” replaced with “Interior lighting power requirements,” and the calculation for interior lighting power has been revised.

Table C405.3.2(1) Interior Lighting Power Allowances: Building Area Method. Minimum compliance values are more stringent.

Table C405.3.2(2) Interior Lighting Power Allowances: Space-By-Space Method. Minimum compliance values are more stringent, with the following exceptions:

  • Atrium, Audience seating area
  • Auditorium, penitentiary
  • Religious building, lobby

Confinement cells were added as a common space type, and the following common space types were made less stringent:

  • Guestroom, Loading dock, Lobby
  • In facility for visually impaired, Dormitory-living quarters
  • Healthcare facilities, nursery and nurse’s station

C405. Additional interior lighting power. The calculation for additional interior lighting power allowance has been revised. Decorative and highlight lighting maximums are more stringent.

C405.4.1 Total connected exterior building exterior lighting power. Exceptions have been added to this section.

Result: Lighting for safety, emergencies, exit signs, water features, swimming pools, and controlled from dwelling units complying with R404.1 are exempt from this requirement.

Table C405.4.2(2) Lighting Power Allowances for Building Exteriors. Requirements are more stringent. Tradable surfaces no longer offer a path to compliance.

Table C405.4.2(3) Lighting Power Allowances for Building Exteriors. New table added. In the 2016 NYCECC, Table C405.5.2(2) was split into two parts. Requirements are more stringent, with the exception of building façades.

Table C405.6 Minimum Nominal Efficiency Levels for 10 CFR 431 Low-Voltage Dry-Type Distribution Transformers.Minimum efficiency standards have increased.

Table C405.7(1) Minimum Nominal Full-Load Efficiency for NEMA Design A, NEMA Design B, and IEC Design N Motors (Excluding Fire Pump) Electric Motors at 60 Hz. A new table was added.

C405.7(2) Minimum Nominal Full-Load Efficiency for NEMA Design C and IEC Design H Motors at 60Hz. New table added.

C405.7 Electric Motors. Exceptions have been added.

Result: Five electric motor types are exempt.

C405.8.2 Escalators and moving walks. An exception was added, creating an alternative to the reduced speed function.

In addition, the updated NYCECC includes several new sections, with additional compliance requirements:

  • 2.1.3 Occupant sensor control function in open plan office areas, cafeteria dining areas, and fast food dining areas
  • 2.1.4 Occupant sensor control function for egress illumination
  • 4.2.1 Additional exterior lighting power. New compliance path for additional exterior lighting power.
  • 4.3 Gas Lighting. New compliance path for gas-fired lighting appliances.
  • 9 Voltage drop in feeders and branch circuits
  • 10 Commercial kitchen equipment
  • 11 Whole building energy monitoring
  • 12 Whole building electrical monitoring

If you have any questions about how these changes affect your projects, please call Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.