Web Exclusive - April 2014
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Beautiful Views

The Power of Daylighting

Recreation, sports and fitness facility designs have commonly aimed to incorporate daylighting and natural light in the past decade or so. Doing so can help save on energy costs, as well as create views from the outside in and vice versa—turning the facility into a sort of advertisement for itself. But these aren't the only reasons to boost natural light inside your buildings.

Citing many of the benefits—from environmental to psychological—of natural interior light, the Eneref Institute, a research and advocacy organization promoting sustainable development, announced the launch of its Natural Interior Daylight initiative. The campaign aims to advance the specification of daylighting as a significant light source in commercial and residential facilities.

Numerous lighting studies have shown that health and productivity benefit for both students and employees in spaces with properly designed natural interior daylight. And on top of that, daylight harvesting, including windows, skylights and tubular daylighting devices, in place of or in conjunction with traditional electric lighting, can significantly reduce a building's energy load.

According to the Illuminating Engineering Society, there are several reasons to incorporate daylight into a building's design:

  • Aesthetics: Research has shown a strong correlation between daylighting and increases in sales, learning and productivity. In addition, daylight's spectral composition provides better color rendering.
  • Energy conservation: With the right amount of daylight, you reduce your need for electric lights.
  • Benefits to occupants: From health to performance and general well-being, users of a space that is filled with natural light will reap the benefits.

It is best, of course, if daylight is incorporated into a building's design from the initial planning stages. But it is possible to make small changes to an existing facility, including lighting controls, window shading and other techniques, to let a little more natural light in.

To launch its initiative, the Eneref Institute has authored a report, "Seven Market Obstacles to Daylighting," available on the organization's website at www.eneref.org.

Moving ahead, the initiative will spotlight a multi-economic sector of the daylighting industry by producing case studies that feature how facilities have benefited from the installation of natural interior daylighting. The reports will highlight specific solutions and validate the health, productivity and energy benefits within various vertical markets.

Because of the tremendous benefits of daylighting, the use of natural interior light should be much more common than it is today, according to the report, "Seven Market Obstacles to Daylighting."

"You don't need a degree in illuminating engineering to know that a room with a view—one with windows that let in natural light—is what we desire. Inherently we just know," said Seth Warren Rose, founding director of Eneref Institute. "Yet, while few technologies combine as many health and environmental benefits, the daylighting market remains only a sliver of what it could be."

The institute is already leading an initiative that aims at increasing adoption of solar heating and cooling in residential and commercial facilities by working with government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.