How Daylighting Improves Light and Life Inside Buildings

  April 11, 2016

Harvesting natural daylight inside the workplace or school can brighten the day and the bottom line. The payback value of daylight harvesting — leveraging skylights in conjunction with LED luminaires and lighting controls — can typically reduce electric lighting costs by a staggering 80 percent in retail, workplace and educational facilities.

Along with energy savings, studies show the human benefits of daylighting for building occupants are similarly enlightening: reduced absenteeism, improved overall well-being and improved productivity. This is because daylighting takes smart control of natural and electric light without disrupting the user’s environment and provides better full-spectrum light that is 100 percent diffused, glare-free, and produces no flicker.

Take education and retail as examples. A study initiated by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PGE) showed that students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests in one year than those with the least. Teachers and administrators enjoy such high performance, plus the results of reduced energy costs, less maintenance, better visibility, and increased flexibility of how lighting is used in the classroom, gym and other spaces. In the retail space, daylighting increased sales by 40 percent in stores with skylights when compared to identical stores without skylights in the same study. Clearly, merchants can rely on utilizing natural daylight to support merchandise displays and provide a better in-store experience for their customers.

An Integrated Solution for Uniform Color in Common Spaces
Lighting technology also continues to improve for heightened quality and aesthetics. Integrated lighting solutions can provide uniform color in common spaces such as offices, retail environments and education facilities. However, the ability to provide such a proposition utilizing daylighting has been limited in the past.

Product options to solve for this issue include tubular prismatic daylighting solutions for suspended-ceiling applications, which use a remote phosphor panel integrated with electric light fixtures. The daylighting system achieves color temperatures similar to those utilized in commercial lighting systems by minimizing the color temperature variation between the electric and natural light sources. This enhanced color quality creates a warmer, smoother, more uniform color.

Daylighting technology can also helps meet compliance with today’s building codes, which are more stringent in performance requirements for skylights and controls on electric lighting. Prismatic skylights can help achieve LEED v4 points and meet building energy codes and standards such as ASHRAE Standard 90.1, IECC and IgCC.

Taking Advantage of Daylight
As an example of these daylighting strategies, take a look at Karndean Design Flooring, a manufacturing company that obtained financial and employee benefits through better lighting when they built a warehouse with daylighting as an integral part of its design. As featured in a recent Eneref Institute daylighting advocacy report (http://www.eneref.org/karndean-warehouse-daylighting/), the Pittsburgh vinyl tile manufacturer embraced daylighting to cut energy costs and enhance employee satisfaction. Prismatic skylights along with LED high bay luminaires and lighting controls, all from Acuity Brands, were installed.

Karndean’s holistic design approach to daylighting reaps the maximum benefits from natural light and energy savings. First of all, LEDs require less energy than the previous T8 fluorescent lights. Most importantly, however, Karndean’s new lighting system maximizes natural interior daylight via sensors that further reduce energy use by automatically dimming the LEDs based on the amount of daylight available. Furthermore, LED high bay fixtures include integrated controls and photo dimming sensors to not only reduce energy costs, but also help extend the life of lighting fixtures.

Karndean employees attest that installing the new lighting system significantly improves their work environment and their ability to best serve their customers. “With the skylights mixed in with the new LED lights, it certainly makes a large difference for us, from that ability to see if there are any variances, not only in color but also in the sheen and texture of the flooring we are shipping out,” says Chris Wettling, warehouse manager. Karndean employees also say that the subtle brightening or dimming of the LEDs is barely noticeable as the sunlight triggers the sensors to reduce or increase electric light output.

This Quick Read was contributed by Pete Shannin, vice president of daylighting product solutions at Acuity Brands Lighting. Shannin is responsible for leading all aspects for product development and marketing of holistic daylighting solutions featuring prismatic skylights, LED lighting and lighting controls.  He can be reached at sccq01@acuitybrands.com.

To learn more about daylighting strategies, go to https://www.facilitiesnet.com/12119BOM


Read next on FacilitiesNet