How to Convince Your Client to Invest in Daylighting Systems

By Jeff Brain | November 16, 2015

Every architect has performed the delicate dance required to convince clients to include certain design features, materials, or mechanical systems into their facility. In many cases, you have to balance the desired project goals with budget limitations. You might also encounter resistance to ideas that seem unconventional to clients who are not active in the design world.

For example, the shift from traditional furnaces to more energy efficient solutions like heat pumps is not uncommon among architects, but still sometimes requires client education because it is a system that they have not used before. The same can be said about daylighting. Employing daylighting systems like solar tracking skylights may seem like an obvious solution to an architect, especially for large open spaces like retail stores, school gyms, manufacturing plants, and offices. However, the client might not have the same vision, and in fact might even be resistant to the idea.

So what do you do when you know that daylighting systems are a smart investment but the client is not so sure?

Convincing Clients to Invest in Daylighting Systems

It is helpful to understand what motivates your client to make design decisions. Are they primarily concerned about the construction budget, ongoing operating costs, the aesthetics of the building, or other factors? Think about what concerns them most and highlight the relevant reasons to implement daylighting systems.

Construction budget

Budgets are always a concern for clients, especially in the commercial sector where budgets are tight and it can be difficult to access more funds. When it comes to daylighting systems, it is important to include them early in the design process so they are incorporated into the first pricing estimates. Make it known that the best daylighting solutions like active skylights will deliver the quickest return on investment and that providing the capital now will continue to pay back for the lifetime of the building.

Operating costs

Daylighting systems can save up to 80% on utility bills for a building occupants. If your client does not intend to occupy the building, they can still benefit. Electricity costs in the U.S. have increased by 62% since 2003. These costs will only continue to go up over time and if a space costs less to operate now, it will be more appealing to renters for the lifetime of the building.

Design aesthetics

If your client is primarily motivated by creating the best possible look and feel in their building, daylighting systems are an excellent choice. The natural, full spectrum light provided throughout the day will enhance the colors, textures, and other interior features so that all of your careful design choices will shine.

Occupant performance

When clients are concerned about creating an environment where the occupants will perform efficiently, you can highlight all of the statistics that show that daylighting systems deliver better worker performance, increased retail sales, higher test scores, and improved employee satisfaction rates.

Green initiatives

If the building owners are aiming for LEED certification or any other type of green building designation, implementing sustainable daylighting systems will contribute significantly to their success. This is because they improve the building in the categories of lighting, energy efficiency, and building envelope.

No matter what motivates your clients to make design decisions, you can present an argument that supports daylighting systems. Start the conversation early in the design process so you have time to educate the client, if necessary. When done right, your client will become a fellow advocate of daylighting systems and will want to keep them in the program no matter how many revisions are required to keep the project on budget.

What reasons have you cited to convince clients to use daylighting systems? If you need data to help you spark a conversation, visit the Ciralight Learning Center today.

Download The Power of Daylighting In Building Design

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