Before and After: the Effects of Natural Lighting on Interior Spaces
By Jeff Brain | November 28, 2017
Green lighting solutions are sought out by those who want high quality lighting that also cuts utility costs. LEDs and daylighting systems are two common green lighting alternatives on the market today. Each uniquely affects the aesthetics and functionality of a space, changing the interior and making these green lighting solutions appealing to anyone seeking alternative options for lighting.
Before Green Lighting
Before the installation of green lighting solutions, utility costs are high, but lighting is either dim, flickering, or burnt out. Frequently, the facility management crew interrupts the labor of workers in order to replace dead bulbs, which negatively impacts productivity. A chunk of the budget is put toward the cost of new bulbs and the proper disposal of old ones, and another chunk is put toward HVAC cooling costs, which are needed to offset the uncomfortable heat produced by inefficient electric bulbs. Workers feel lethargic, particularly under the green, flickering light of fluorescent bulbs, and they suffer from headaches or depression and often come to work feeling ill.
After LEDs are installed, electricity and maintenance costs drop. In comparison to fluorescent bulbs, light quality improves, while in comparison to incandescents, the light quality and color rendition is not as good. Most people prefer the warmer hues of incandescent bulbs over the bluish, cold cast of LED bulbs. Fortunately, LED makers are currently designing bulbs that move closer to the orange-red end of the spectrum, so interior spaces will feel warmer.
The primary advantage of LED bulbs is their long lifespan. They last about 6 times longer than fluorescents and about 40 times longer than incandescent bulbs, so workers are able to continue completing tasks without anticipating interruptions of darkness from dead bulbs or time spent waiting while bulbs are replaced.
The light emission has little heat output, so HVAC systems can work at their best to maintain stable interior temperatures and keep occupants comfortable.
After Daylighting Systems
After a daylighting system has been installed, electricity and maintenance costs drop even further than after the installation of LED bulbs. Daylighting harnesses the free and natural light provided by the sun, so no electricity is required. The full-spectrum light of sunlight is known by scientists, architects, engineers, and lighting designers to be the highest quality lighting available. It brings out the largest spectrum of colors and is known to be healthiest for a building occupant’s mental, psychological, and physical wellbeing.
Daylighting systems do not wear out, and repairs or maintenance are very infrequently, if ever, needed. The light will illuminate an interior from 6 to 10 hours depending on which daylighting technologies are employed. Active systems are recommended for the longest lasting, highest quality light.
Proper design will provide insulation and protect the interior against unwanted heat gain and heat loss, so ample and diffuse sunlight will not create thermal discomfort.