5 Factors to Consider When Adding Natural Lighting to a Building

By Jeff Brain | June 16, 2015

Natural lighting offers many benefits for offices, retail stores, schools, healthcare facilities, and anywhere else that requires interior illumination. Industrial skylights lessen our dependence on artificial lighting and can reduce air conditioning use. Depending on the efficiency of the industrial skylight, you can reduce lighting energy consumption between 50% and 80%.

In addition to valuable cost savings, natural lighting has been shown to create a more productive and pleasant work environment, reduce absenteeism, improve student performance in schools, and increase sales in retail stores.

Natural Lighting and Building Design

Whether you are retrofitting an existing structure or designing a new building from the ground up, implementing natural lighting is an excellent way to reduce operating costs and create a better environment for the building occupant. Consider these five factors when adding natural light to a building design:

  1. Intended use of the space - Understanding how building occupants will use the space is an important part of any lighting plan. Will you have individual private offices on the perimeter with open space in the middle? Are you lighting a warehouse with tall racks or shelves throughout the space? Do you need consistently bright lighting in a retail store? Selecting the right skylight will help you light the space most effectively according to its intended purpose.

  2. Spatial dimensions - The size and shape of the space to be lit will influence how many skylights you need to install and where to place them in order to achieve the desired lighting levels. Some lighting systems are not practical in small spaces, while others are not practical in large spaces.

  3. Interior obstructions - Lighting distribution can be affected by interior walls, large shelves, and other objects that obstruct light. If you can point out where light distribution will be obstructed, you can take this into take into account in your design plans and ensure that you achieve maximum brightness as needed.

  4. Location and size of windows - Windows that are exposed to natural sunlight will brighten a space. Windows reduce the number of industrial skylights that are necessary, and they can even impact where skylights will to be located. However, it is important to remember that light from a window will grow and diminish as the sun moves across the sky. This can create hotspots and glare, or it can provide insufficient light depending on the time of day. Controls and window shades can mitigate the disadvantages of windows and make the natural lighting more pleasant for building occupants.

  5. Heat loss and gain - It may seem counter-intuitive, but when creating a natural lighting plan, light cannot be the only factor you consider when calculating energy savings. Wherever skylights are installed, the thermal insulation of roofing materials is removed, too, so you will have to account for heat loss and heat gain when selecting a natural lighting system. Neglecting these details could lead to poor thermal comfort and increased HVAC costs.

If you are interested in incorporating Ciralight Suntrackers into your building design, contact us today for a skylight design plan. We will provide free technical drawings with a color rendering that shows the interior lighting levels that you can expect with the recommended placement of our innovative solar-tracking skylights.

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