California Green Building Code (CALGreen) – Light pollution reduction

To minimize light pollution in an effort to maintain dark skies and to ensure that newly constructed projects reduce the amount of backlight, uplight, and glare from exterior light sources.

CALGreen Code Section 5.106.8: Light pollution reduction. [N]

Outdoor lighting systems shall be designed and installed to comply with the following:

1. The minimum requirements in the California Energy Code for Lighting Zones 1-4 as defined in Chapter 10, Section 10-114 of the California Administrative Code; and

2. Backlight (B) ratings as defined in IES TM-15-11 (shown in Table A-1 in chapter 8);

3. Uplight and Glare ratings as defined in California Energy Code (shown in Tables 130.2-A and 130.2-B in Chapter 8); and

4. Allowable BUG ratings not exceeding those shown in Table 5.106.8 [N], or Comply with a local ordinance lawfully enacted pursuant to Section 101.7, whichever is more stringent.

Exceptions: [N]

1. Luminaires that qualify as exceptions in Section 140.7 of the California Energy Code.

2. Emergency lighting.

3. Building facade meeting the requirements in Table 140.7-B of the California Energy Code, Part 6.

4. Custom lighting features as allowed by the local enforcing agency, as permitted by Section 101.8 Alternate materials, designs and methods of construction.


1. [N] See also California Building Code, Chapter 12, Section 1205.7 for college campus lighting requirements for parking facilities and walkways.

2. Refer to Chapter 8 (Compliance Forms, Worksheets and Reference Material) for IES TM-15-11 Table A- 1, California Energy Code Tables 130.2-A and 130.2-B.

3. Refer to the California Energy Code for requirements for additions and alterations.


Light pollution is disruptive to the environment, wildlife and humans. The intent of this requirement is to minimize light pollution in an effort to maintain dark skies and to ensure that newly constructed projects reduce the amount of backlight, uplight, and glare (BUG) from not-in-code exterior light sources.

Compliance Method:

Comply with California Energy Commission regulations in the California Administrative Code (Part 1 of Title 24) and California Energy Code (Part 6 of Title 24) as cited in Section 5.106.8(1) and 5.106.8 (3). Those standards form a basis upon which to build for the purpose of light pollution reduction. The provisions in The California Administrative Code provide a weighted approach to the project site location, with a project located in the middle of a big city allowed more light to escape than a project at a rural or urban location. The California Energy Code addresses power and energy efficiency of outdoor lighting. There are exceptions for certain occupancies for lighting power requirements.

Comply with a local dark skies ordinance, if more stringent than these regulations.

Specify exterior lighting fixtures that meet IESNA TM-15-11 regarding backlight, and Part 6 for uplight and glare. Rating may not exceed those values shown in Table 5.106.8. For additions and alterations refer to the California Energy Code.

Plan intake: The plan reviewer should confirm the following:

• Construction documents shall include exterior light sources that comply with the California Administrative Code, and the California Energy Code of Title 24 along with the IESNA TM-15-11 standard;

• Electrical plans and specifications for compliance with building and exterior lighting, including photometric data for perimeter site lighting fixtures; and

• Specifications for any controls to be installed on the project.

On-site enforcement: The inspector should verify that all specified lighting products are installed as shown on the approved construction documents.

(Excerpted from ‘Guide to the 2019 California Green Building Standards Code Nonresidential’ – Chapter 5)

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