Saving on energy usage in buildings has become a major focus and will continue to be for some time. One strategy that is often used in new construction is daylighting. According to the Whole Building Design Guide, “Daylighting is the controlled admission of natural light, direct sunlight, and diffused-skylight into a building to reduce electric lighting and saving energy.” That is great for new construction, but what about for existing facilities? Can this strategy be retrofitted into existing spaces with minimal disruption? A recent article on Buildings.com written by Janelle Penny looked into this and we have summarized the tips and strategies she outlined below.
First, the article starts by discussing some of the challenges by saying “Increasing the use of natural light in an existing building can be difficult—you can’t exactly cut new windows into the side of an occupied building without disrupting operations and incurring major costs, and some spaces are simply too far from the windows to benefit.” It then goes on to explain why you want to maximize daylighting when possible. “The benefits of daylighting are well-documented. In addition to reducing your need for artificial light, thus lowering your energy costs, the use of natural light has been associated with reduced eye strain, improved mood and lower fatigue for occupants.”
6 Daylighting Tips and Strategies for Existing Buildings
- Make sure your ceiling and walls are reflective enough – You want the light coming in to be able to be reflected. The article states that you should “target a relatively high reflectivity on the ceiling—85% or greater” and “On the walls, we’re looking for a mid-level reflectivity of about 60%.”
- Do your own daylighting audit – The article explains that you will need to do an audit of the space to determine if daylighting is a viable option.
- Taper light levels depending on how much light is coming into the space – The article suggests to “Zone your lighting appropriately so you can scale back the artificial lighting in spaces that are receiving adequate natural light.”
- Consider occupant needs – The article notes that some people may prefer more light on their workspaces than standards for light levels require and this should be taken into account.
- Try window films – Here is where we come in. We can utilize properly specified window films to cut heat and glare and enable the window blinds or shades to be left open allowing for more natural light in the space without the drawbacks. The article also mentions speciality window films that can be used to “bounce daylighting deeper into a space”.
- Mimic natural light in spaces that can’t get any daylight – The article mentions that “subterranean spaces and core areas far from windows will never be able to get enough natural light despite your best efforts.” The suggestion was to invest in “dynamic skylights that change color, temperature and light intensity depending on the time of day. These can help employees reap some of the benefits of natural light in spaces where real daylight never reaches.”
The benefits of daylighting on your energy usage and occupant comfort and welfare warrant taking a closer look at ways you can retrofit these technologies into your existing space. If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact us by calling (800) 874-8468 or fill out a form HERE. We would be happy to provide you with a free property assessment and estimate on retrofitting a daylighting window film solution in your Western Michigan area facility.