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ASHRAE Standard 90.1: Lighting Compliance Simplified with Relight

Any new construction or renovations to existing buildings can lead to a mountain of paperwork – permits, insurance, estimates, vendor contracts, schedules, design specs, rebate applications, and ASHRAE compliance, to name a few. Choosing expert contractors like Relight can make a world of difference in managing paperwork such as rebate applications and ASHRAE 90.1 lighting requirements, ultimately saving time and money for clients.


The ASHRAE standard 90.1 is used in many places as a way to standardize minimum energy performance and energy code requirements. It’s one of the primary considerations in planning for projects in most new buildings and commercial renovations and is included in the LEED building certification program.

The standard is designed to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions and maximize cost savings through sustained energy efficiency. It provides extensive requirements for every aspect of the building and renovation process, such as building envelopes, HVAC, hot water, power, equipment, and lighting.

Many state, provincial, and municipal laws and bylaws now require full compliance with the standards. The City of Vancouver passed a bylaw in 2019 requiring compliance as part of its goal to transition to zero-emission buildings in all new construction by 2030 (exceptions being temporary buildings and multi-unit residential buildings of three stories or less). A comprehensive checklist for projects within the City of Vancouver is available here:


Section 9 of the ASHRAE 90.1 standard deals with energy efficient lighting considerations including maximum lighting power density measured in w/sq.ft, as well as lighting controls:


With regards to lighting power density, the standard includes maximum allowances in building types such as offices, residential, warehouses, and industrial facilities, as well as a detailed breakdown of LPD within those buildings such as common rooms, stairwells, offices, restrooms, and parking garages.

According to the 2016 standard used by most cities, including Vancouver, the maximum LPD if 0.79 w/sq.ft in office buildings, 1.06 w/sq.ft in retail spaces, 1.05 w/sq.ft in hospitals, and 0.48 w/sq.ft in warehouses. (The newly released 2019 standard sees reductions in all of these categories).


Section 9 of the ASHRAE 90.1 standard also details lighting controls, including dimming and occupancy controls, mandatory in all commercial buildings. Like maximum LPD, the standard breaks control requirements down into subsections of each building, with areas requiring one or more control functions such as:

  • local on/off controls,
  • manual “on” restrictions,
  • partial automatic on and off controls (occupancy and timer-based),
  • bi-level controls available to occupants,
  • scheduled automatic shutoffs, and
  • continuous or multi-step daylight controls.

Exterior lighting requirements include specifications for parking garages, and exterior building lights, which are required to reduce by at least 50% based on a schedule or occupancy sensors.

Control exceptions include lighting within dwelling units, lighting in normally off designated security areas, and emergency egress lighting.


At Relight, we plan every project with the ASHRAE 90.1 lighting standards in mind, including LPD and dimming controls. We specialize in smart building technology and use advanced yet user-friendly lighting controls for all of our clients. In addition to planning with compliance in mind, we provide expert project management and take care of all the ASHRAE 90.1 paperwork, saving time and money for our clients in the building and renovation process in addition to maximizing energy efficiency and cost savings in the long run.

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