Reports reveal that one-quarter of energy consumption in commercial buildings is for lighting. To cut costs and implement green initiatives, many businesses turn to daylighting, an energy-saving strategy using angles, building orientation and windows to harness the power of sunlight. This building design method increases natural light without causing glare or overheating issues.
New construction considerations include site planning, room orientation, windows and skylights, among other features. By cutting back on electrical lighting, buildings can cut energy use by one-third — and also create a visually stimulating environment.
What Is Daylighting?
Daylighting is a design concept that utilizes the availability of natural light to minimize dependence on electric lighting. Found in new commercial and residential construction, developers can adapt this strategy to any new project. Builders must incorporate this strategy into all aspects of architectural design, from the initial site plan to the colors of the walls.
Several components make up daylighting, and merely adding large windows does not result in efficient use of sunlight. Similar to other sustainable and green building practices, daylighting involves constructing a space built with the surrounding environment in mind. From the orientation of the sun to the average amount of light per day, there are many variables to consider.
1. Angles and Orientation
When designing a building, architects must increase south- and north-facing exposure and minimize western exposure. Since the morning sun rises in the east, rooms facing this direction can soak up solar heat for the rest of the day. You can also fill these rooms with dense materials that hold in warmth, such as stone, brick and concrete. This step maximizes the efficiency of evenly distributed and controlled light throughout the day.
2. Room Shape and Size
For balanced light, there should be two points of entry in every room and shape the layout accordingly. Angled walls give off the most light, and placing windows or skylights near them can create a pleasant light-washing effect on the paint’s surface.
Keep in mind that large, open rooms will not maintain temperatures as easily as smaller ones. Builders can mitigate this effect, however, with the materials they choose.
3. Windows and Skylights
A strategy for creating efficient windows for daylighting is aperture location, which refers to the distance of light penetration based on the height of a window. Not every room can have generously sized windows, so other sources might include skylights, which penetrate deep into a house. These features are excellent for darker spots, such as bathrooms. However, builders must use them in moderation, since they impact a structure’s thermal envelope.
4. Filtration and Reflectance
Daylighting does not refer to just bright, unfiltered light. To improve the function of daylighting, it’s essential to distribute direct light.
One type of filtration is glazing, which refers to how light through a window influences the brightness and temperature of the space. Low-emitting window glass is coated with a metallic oxide material, effectively blocking the sun’s rays while keeping heat in throughout the winter.
Aesthetic design is also important to how light enters a building. Something as simple as paint can do the trick to help a structure manage sunlight. Reflectance is the ability of interior surfaces to distribute sunlight, and the paler the wall colors, the brighter the light.
Daylighting as a Low-Energy Solution
When businesses incorporate daylighting into their building design plans, they can dramatically cut energy usage, reduce waste and save money. This strategy does not require special features or the use of alternative energy sources, such as solar or geothermal power.
However, it can decrease a building’s carbon footprint by boosting passive solar capabilities, a process whereby architects take advantage of a building’s site, climate and materials to minimize electricity consumption.
Daylighting is a prominent feature required for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Businesses that obtain this certification can showcase green initiatives to consumers and partners, promoting their commitment to the environment. As of 2019, there were more than 69,000 LEED-certified buildings in the United States.
Beyond environmental and economic benefits, daylighting aids health and productivity initiatives. According to one study, office workers in an environment with natural light saw an 84% decrease in eyestrain, blurred vision and headaches, all of which detract from productivity. Corporations that incorporate this strategy into their building’s design may see an uptick in workplace morale and output.
How Daylighting Design Can Reduce Energy Consumption
Daylighting Increases energy efficiency by examining and integrating natural light in a building. As a sustainable option that decreases dependence on electricity, daylighting is a strong strategy for businesses looking to go green.