While daylighting can be extremely effective for cutting costs, increasing occupant health, and ensuring a more beautiful environment, it does not always have a positive outcome. Despite the potential benefits, poorly integrated daylighting can actually open your building to a number of risks. Below are three of the risks most commonly associated with poorly designed or integrated skylights.
High Heat Transference
Because many traditional skylights are designed to act as horizontal windows in the roof of a building, they are not often designed with heat transfer in mind. This results in them losing heat in cold weather, while allowing the sun to heat up the building interior while it is directly overhead. This creates a high level of fluctuation in building temperatures, forcing HVAC systems to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. This can be avoided by selecting a system designed to counteract this issue. Look for a system with an independently tested Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and U-value as close to zero as possible to ensure the most efficiency.
Another common issue which has to do with the building envelope is a lack of sufficient weatherproofing. Skylights, as a technology, have a bad reputation for leaking and allowing water to enter the building’s interior. This can allow mold to develop in the skylight, rotting materials and causing severe structural damage. Poor weatherproofing can also encourage the development of ice dams, which will obscure the light which passes through your skylights, as well as creating further structural damage. When selecting a daylighting system, make sure to research whether they have been tested for extreme weather patterns, up to and including heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds.
Inconsistent Light Quality
While the best skylights are capable of providing bright, consistent light for up to 10.5+ hours per day, investing in the wrong system could see your building receiving a far lower quality of light. Because daylighting is often dependent on the location of the sun, most systems experience fluctuations in light direction and intensity throughout the day. This leads to light pooling and glare, which create an uncomfortable working environment and can affect day-to-day productivity. It also contributes to repetitive eye strain and stress induced migraines. On the other hand, well integrated natural lighting has the potential to increase workplace productivity by 6-16%.