Lighting, Low Vision & Building Codes

Jan 10, 2013

The assumed lighting restrictions associated with the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 energy standard are fundamentally based upon recommended light levels found in the Illuminating Engineering Society’s (IES) Lighting Handbook. These light levels are historically based upon the needs of normally sighted people. The solitary goal of the energy code has been to reduce energy consumption by imposing limits on the amount of power that can be used for lighting per floor area and therefore ignores quality of light, health, safety and hours of use. While mandating greater use of daylight will help reduce daytime energy use, glare and contrast are quality of light issues yet to be addressed.

Quantity and quality of light are the crucial elements for the low vision population. This presentation will review how we account for these while accommodating the restrictions in the energy code as well as other building codes and standards such as the NFPA, IBC and LEED. Recently, the power densities for senior care facilities in the 90.1 regulation standard were increased substantially after a convincing case was made based on scientific research. Although this increase was made for limited space types, this action paves the way for broader changes to the various building codes in an effort to support the low vision population.

It is time that universal design went beyond mobility and addressed sensory loss, including low vision; to truly be “universal” design.

Robert Dupuy, IALD, LC (Interface Engineering)
Greg Guarnaccia, LC, LEED AP, IES (Doubledge Design LLC)
Eunice Noell-Waggoner (Center of Design for an Aging Society)
Presented at: 
Low Vision Design Committee Symposium
Published & professionally reviewed by: 
Interface Engineering
Doubledge Design LLC
Center of Design for an Aging Society
Low Vision Design Committee (National Institute of Building Sciences)

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