Because of how common artificial lighting methods have become, natural lighting methods are less widely integrated. As a result, many people are no longer aware of the benefits these systems can offer, or how to properly integrate them into a building. Below are five important considerations when you are utilizing natural lighting in any facility.
Figure Out the Optimal Light Level
Not every facility requires the same level of light, in fact, depending on the work being done, the required light can differ greatly. While facilities that employ heavy machinery need to be brightly lit to help avoid the risk of injury, the same level of light in an office setting would be extremely distracting. In an office more light can be provided with personal task lighting than toplighting to ensure visual comfort. Luckily there are resources available online to ensure you use the proper level of lighting and don’t over or underspend on lighting.
Ensure Quality Weatherproofing
While it is less prevalent with modern systems, skylights have a historical issue with leaking. This is a major issue because if moisture is capable of penetrating the building envelope it can become trapped, creating mold and eventually leading to structural damage. Leaking can also increase the risk of ice dams forming, which not only obstructs the skylight, but can also damage your building. Because of this it is important to invest in a system which is AAMA approved for weatherproofing.
Research the ROI
The Return on Investment, or ROI, is the length of time it takes for the savings a system provides to fully pay off the initial investment. Aiming for a short ROI can help protect a business’ bottom line, but it isn’t always easy. The ROI of systems can range wildly, with some traditional skylights taking up to 10 years to pay themselves off. However, if you research well it is more than possible to find efficient natural lighting systems with an ROI of just 2-4.5 years.
Aim for Energy Reduction
One of the key benefits of natural lighting is the ability to shut off electric lights and just allow the sun to provide the light you need. The best systems are even capable of providing adequate light for up to 10.5+ hours per day. Beyond just less hours of artificial light, this can also decrease the amount of climate control needed in your facility. This is because artificial lighting can sometimes generate waste heat while running. Less artificial light means less potential for this waste heat. Overall, well-integrated daylighting can reduce energy use for HVAC and lighting by 50-80%.
Track Your Carbon Footprint Reduction
As surprising as this may seem, 67% of electricity in the United States is produced by burning fossil fuels. As a result, cutting down your energy usage can also have a profound effect on the carbon footprint of your facility. As you work on reducing your contribution to carbon emissions make sure to record this and other sustainable design decisions. Your building might qualify for state or federal tax breaks because of your efforts.