Codes Spotlight the Value of Industry Standardization

Codes Spotlight the Value of Industry Standardization

This piece was originally published in the March/April 2019 issue of electroindustry.

Bryan P. Holland, Southern Region Field Representative, NEMA

The proper installation of lighting systems in buildings, in public transportation systems, and for outdoor spaces and events is critical to the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. Various nationally recognized installation codes ensure lighting systems function  and  perform as intended by the manufacturer and applicable product safety Standards. Here are the primary installation codes that contain provisions for lighting systems:


The National Electrical Code® (NEC) includes rules to safeguard people and property from hazards associated with using electricity for lighting systems. The NEC also mandates that illumination be provided for certain electrical equipment to enhance user safety. Additionally, the code outlines the locations in buildings where lighting outlets are required, the required calculations for lighting loads, and other requirements for lighting systems in special occupancies, for special equipment, and for special conditions. Article 410 is the primary location in the code for installation rules about luminaires, lampholders, and lamps.


There are several nationally recognized building and fire codes that contain rules and requirements for lighting systems, including the International Building Code®, International Fire Code®, NFPA 1 Fire Code, and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. These installation codes provide a safe and healthy environment for building occupants and allow for their safe evacuation during an emergency. These codes also detail nighttime lighting system requirements for outdoor spaces and events.


The two most popular energy codes adopted and enforced in the United States are the International Energy Conservation Code® and ASHRAE Standard 90.1 Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. Both of these codes contain prescriptive installation requirements and operational performance criteria for lighting systems and lighting control. These codes offer rules and requirements covering energy conservation methods, materials, and systems to optimize the efficiency of energy use within a building.

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