Perhaps you can relate to that fuzzy feeling of being stuck working in a windowless office under fluorescent lights during daylight hours? Commercial and residential spaces like that are becoming a thing of the past with the “day lighting” architectural design trend.
Day lighting involves taking advantage of the sunlight, building a smart system that reduces overhead lighting use, “harvesting” daylight to provide effective lighting with a better balance between natural and artificial light. Because it has the opportunity to reduce the amount of energy needed for lighting and cooling, day lighting can play a part in reducing greenhouse gases and slowing fossil fuel depletion. In addition to lowering costs, day lighting has health benefits.
Studies have found that well-illuminated spaces with natural lighting can improve creativity and learning. Exposure to natural light is reported to improve workplace performance and decrease absenteeism. It boosts test scores, and accelerates recovery and shortens stays in daylit hospital patient rooms. Imagine what it can do for you in your home! Additionally, it’s an opportunity to maximize outdoor views and get more fresh air.
Day lighting typically includes a daylight-responsive lighting control system, and glare remediation (such as blinds) for extra bright locations/times of the day.
In a remodeled residence, we often install solar skylights and control blinds and the interior environment with Velux ACTIVE with NETATMO system, and skip the lighting control. The Velux ACTIVE system is a game changer. It adds significant functionality to a remodel, and their net cost is low due to the big tax credit that clients get. On all jobs, close attention is paid when selecting window sizes and locations to get daylighting pluses even when smarthome gadgetry is not in the mix.
Beyond the cool Velux active skylights, you may be surprised at what’s new since you last looked at windows and skylights:
- - Major window manufacturers have upgraded their products with significantly higher insulating factors than in years past. Marvin suggests a U factor of less than .3, and a high solar gain rating in the northeast to allow heat to be absorbed.
- - Glass walls, with folding doors, like Nanawalls, have come a long way over the past few years, with costs coming down and features going up.
- - Smart blinds like Lutron's Serena shades have become mainstream, making them an easy-to-include option in various remodeling projects.
- - Options for solar tubes have expanded. A solar tube is a 10- or 14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tube with a polished interior. The interior acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving the light’s intensity. Capturing daylight at the roof, it delivers it inside your home.
When you start thinking through the next round of upgrades to your home, take the opportunity to consider how daylighting can make a difference to how your home feels and works for you and your family.