How to Design Integrated Lighting That Maximizes Daylight
By Torrin Greathouse | October 16, 2015
Coming up with an effective lighting plan is an important part of any new building or retrofit project. While we are constantly innovating new forms of sustainable artificial lighting, natural light is still the most efficient form of lighting and provides a wide range of business benefits. This makes it especially useful to maximize daylight in your building design.
Here are a few key elements to consider when designing an integrated lighting plan for a building.
Before you can even begin designing a lighting plan, you need to figure out the needs of building occupants. While it is necessary for offices to provide enough light so workers do not require additional task lighting, too much light can create glare which reduces productivity and causes migraines. On the other hand, industrial installations require much brighter lighting to prevent dangerous accidents and mistakes which occur in low light. Figuring out the level of luminance your facility requires is the first step towards an effective lighting design.
A well integrated lighting design based around natural light should take advantage of multiple daylighting strategies, including windows, skylights, light shelves, blinds, and louvers. Whatever combination of these technologies you use, it is important to ensure that you are utilizing proper glazing. Unglazed windows and skylight domes allow the light to pass through unfiltered, which can create uncomfortable hotspots and glare. Occupants may then end up closing windows to rely on more comfortable electric lighting, or start running HVAC systems to cool the building down, both of which raise electrical costs and defeat the purpose of the daylighting technology used.
The interior layout of a building can have a surprising effect on the efficiency of your lighting design. Objects like shelves, cubicles and partition can prevent the flow of light through a building. Consider removing these objects or moving necessary obstructions to interior walls. This will ensure that the integrated light can easily illuminate the space.
Roof Area Requirements
The amount of roof-space a skylight must consume to provide optimal lighting can vary. Because some skylights spread light more widely, fewer units are required to adequately light a facility. Traditional flat skylights are less efficient than newer systems and require up to 10% of your roof space to provide adequate light. This can drive up the cost of an installation, because, despite a lower cost per unit, you will have to purchase a greater number of units to light a facility. On the other hand, solar tracking skylights only require 1-2% of your roof space to provide the same level of light.
Ciralight manufactures the SunTracker, a leading solar tracking skylight. The SunTracker combines solar panels and GPS technology to adjust an array of mirrors, reflecting light downwards into a facility, and providing natural light for up to 10.5 hours a day.