The Benefits of Daylighting
Daylighting is the illumination of building interiors via natural light, and is often achieved by proper interior and exterior design and advanced glazing, with the aim of maximizing occupant comfort and reducing energy use. Daylighting in homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools, and commercial spaces can have multi-faceted positive impacts. Considering that, according to the EPA, the average American spends nearly 90% of their time indoors, daylighting can play a vital role in the health and happiness of building occupants.
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Too much natural light can cause issues like glare, creating eye strain and making it hard to view computer screens and other devices. In spaces like libraries, classrooms, computer rooms, and gathering areas, consider utilizing a translucent daylighting system that provides soft, diffuse light for the space.
The average American spends almost 90% of their time indoors - so why not make your space welcoming and inviting! We're attracted to rooms with natural light as they tend to feel warmer and more comfortable than artificially lit spaces.
Translucent glazing materials offer additional security as they block a direct line of sight into the building, making it hard to see what occupants are doing or how populated an area might be. Translucent materials are also a good solution for restrooms and locker rooms where privacy is a concern.
While natural light has benefits for a space, it's also important to consider the environment around it. In cold climates, translucent panel systems, which can be insulated and configured with thermal breaks, are a great tool for enhancing the building's performance and improving occupant comfort.
Access to natural light can improve moods, boost productivity and bring up attention spans and attendance rates. School studies show better attendance and test scored in daylit environments, and retail spaces have found increased sales in area lit by natural light.
The Heschong Mahone Group found that office workers who are provided with a better physical indoor work environment, including daylight, an outdoor view, and better ventilation conditions, performed 10-25 percent better on tests of mental function and memory recall, were less likely to report negative health symptoms, and were found to work 6-12 percent faster. Plus, according to a daylighting and work-performance study by the California Energy Commission, exposure to daylight was consistently linked with a higher level of concentration.
Numerous other studies show the benefits that access to natural light can bring to educational facilities. Scientists have found that students in classrooms with the highest levels of daylight performed 7-18 percent higher on standardized tests, and were able to progress 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests over the course of a year. Students in daylit facilities have also been shown to have better attention spans and attendance.
Energy + $$ Savings
The overall objective of daylighting is to minimize the use of artificial light and reduce electricity costs, but it can also lower HVAC costs. Electrical lighting in modern buildings produces a lot of heat; if properly directed, though, natural lighting generates hardly any heat at all. In addition, the budgeted amount for electrical lighting, as well as heating or cooling loads and the amount of cooling required keeping a building at a specified temperature, can be redirected toward lighting systems and HVAC equipment.
For most buildings, the energy savings typically range from 15-40 percent. Although energy savings and sustainability may be the reasons companies initially opt for daylighting, it can have a significant, measurable impact on the productivity and satisfaction of tenants and occupants.
Better Retail Sales
Big Box retail stores have long studied the benefits of daylighting in the facilities, and have been benefiting from natural light in a variety of ways. In one study, numerous non-daylit and daylit stores were compared, and they found that overall sales per square foot were roughly 40% higher in the departments that were lit by natural light. If you include the extra income from increased sales with continuous energy savings because of less need for artificial light sources, it’s easy to see why it has become a popular add-on for new retail centers.
Research conducted by the Eneref Institute also concluded that natural lighting makes for the best possible presentation of goods, finding everything from fresh fruit to soda bottles to be more visually appealing when shelved under skylights. Because daylight, unlike artificial lighting, accurately renders all wavelengths of light, products displayed in natural lighting more accurately reflect their true color.
Customers are also expecting more of their retailers. According to the USGBC, a study by the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to support social and environmental issues, and that an estimated 68 million adult Americans base their purchases on their values—personal, social and environmental—and say they will spend up to 20% more on environmentally sound products.
We tend to respond positively when exposed to natural light – both mentally and physically. Our moods have been shown to improve when we’re given access to natural light, our bodies boost vitamin D storage, its better for our vision, our serotonin levels increase, and we’re just generally happier – and because of that we tend to spend more time in daylit spaces compared to artificially lit ones.
Studies have also shown that we’re more likely to visit stores that are lit with natural light, are happier in work environments where we have access to natural light, and are also more productive. It’s clear to see the numerous benefits a skylight or translucent wall system can bring to your next project.