Daylighting is a relatively simple concept: use natural daylight to illuminate a building. Although it is an easy concept to understand, it is a greatly underemployed resource that is available for nearly every new facility.
As daylighting’s popularity grows, it should be noted that it was not always an underemployed resource. Before the days of fluorescent light fixtures, buildings were designed to promote natural lighting. When quality electrical lighting was a luxury, buildings were built to take advantage of their surroundings, especially natural daylight. The type, quantity, and position of windows were carefully planned to provide maximum comfort for the occupants. See Figure 1 for an example of good daylighting from the old days.
As we have perfected ways to control the climates inside of our interior spaces, the longstanding principles of building design have been thrown out the window (pun alert). Careful planning of windows in building design is still prevalent today but for different reasons. Glass is now, and has been for quite some time, used mainly for aesthetic purposes in architectural design. Whatever consequent benefits from these designs is an added bonus to the occupants.
The trend in progressive architecture today uses abundant natural daylight, primarily with clerestory windows located high on building façades. Benefits of daylighting design include increased productivity, improved student performance, quicker patient recovery, and reduced lighting and air conditioning energy requirements. Integrating daylighting into today’s building designs can be achieved easily with simple building design techniques, proper lighting layout, and controls.
The images show a simple but effective daylighting design. The design includes clerestory glazing, like Figure 1, highly reflective walls and ceiling panels, and a light shelf. Integrating designs such as these into your facility will help create a more efficient, productive environment. For additional renderings illustrating the effects of daylighting for this model, please visit Michaels past brief, Daylighting.