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7 tips for effective daylighting design

warehouse skylights

Daylighting helps designers understand and measure the amount of natural light in a building project and coordinate it with internal lighting fixtures. If you are designing a building where visual comfort or energy savings are important, pay particular attention to daylighting.

Daylighting design can spark questions such as:

  • How can natural light from windows, glazed openings and skylights help reduce the need for artificial lighting?
  • Is there enough light for common tasks, or are additional lighting fixtures needed?
  • Is the distribution of light ideal, or is it causing glare? 

Daylighting has been touted for its many aesthetic and health benefits by designers and researchers alike. For example, scientists at the Lighting Research Center (LRC) in Troy, New York, have reported that daylit environments increase occupant productivity and comfort and provide the mental and visual stimulation necessary to regulate human circadian rhythms.

Natural light can also contribute to substantial energy savings. Spaces outfitted with daylight-sensing lighting controls can reduce the energy used for electric lighting by 20 to 60 percent.

Here are seven tips for implementing stellar daylighting design:

  1. Take advantage of modern technologies. At one time, designers did this by hand, but the modern technology available today substantially reduces the amount of work and time needed to design with daylighting in mind. Plus, computer simulations are more reliable, in most cases, because they remove the element of human error.
  2. Know what you want to achieve with your model. Develop clear goals before getting started. This will determine the building information modeling (BIM) platform, appropriate software package, and types of analyses and data that will be needed.
  3. Pay close attention to the building’s orientation and the time of day. These factors can have a huge influence on your lighting design.
  4. Direct sunlight has a tendency to cause glare. Remember, the daylight you want comes from the sky — not the sun directly. 
  5. Climate and latitude play a role. Windows with multiple orientations must usually be combined to produce the right mix of light for the building, depending on the climate and latitude.
  6. Not all windows are created equal. Types and grades of glass and types of window treatments can also affect the amount of light transmitted through the windows.
  7. Consider lighting from skylights. Many daylighting designs employ skylights for top lighting or admitting daylight from above. Mainly because they are the most effective source of daylight on a unit area basis, skylights are widely used in daylighting design in residential and commercial buildings. We spoke with Ross Vandermark, national product manager for VELUX America, about the benefits of skylights in daylighting design. “Skylights bring much more than natural light into a space. They provide a connection to the outdoors with light that helps to keep circadian rhythms in sync.”

The combination of smart lighting design and daylighting not only cuts costs, it also plays an intricate role in the well-being of building occupants.

Source: Capturing the daylight dividend in buildings: why and how?

Image credit: VELUX Skylights

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