Daylighting and Energy Usage

hm-brown-daylighting-energy-usage-6

A good daylighting system is the easiest and most cost-effective way to light a space and reduce energy usage. After all, the sun provides everyone with a lot of free light and energy every day, it makes sense to take advantage of it. However, placing just adding in skylights or windows without thought is a recipe for disaster; or really just some discomfort, but you get the idea.

An average grocery store might save about $16,000 per year in operating costs, or $0.32 per square foot with the use of an appropriately sized skylighting system.

 

Controlled Daylighting

hm-brown-daylighting-energy-usage-3To achieve reduced energy usage and save on operating costs the daylighting must be intentional and controlled. It is equally important to install and implement lighting controls. If the office worker or employee’s turn on the electric lights, there will be no savings.

Why are electric lights so expensive to run? About half of a light bulb’s energy consumption is released as heat, making them fairly inefficient. LED technologies are improving this percentage, but they still cost money.

Potential Energy Savings

A good daylighting solution will reduce overall energy usage of any building. For example, the potential savings for a few typical buildings in the Los Angeles area were calculated*. An average grocery store might save about $16,000 per year in operating costs, or $0.32 per square foot with the use of an appropriately sized skylighting system. A typical elementary school might save about $7,500 per year in operating costs, or $0.23 per square foot. An industrial processing and distribution center might save about $0.12 per square foot.

*Using 1998 energy costs, weather conditions from the San Bernardino Valley, and a few default assumptions.

Commercial Flat Roof Daylighting Solution

The Velux Commercial Sun Tunnel for a Commercial Flat Roof

Getting cost-effective daylighting into a commercial building can be a challenge, especially when most have a commercial flat roof. Velux Commercial Sun Tunnels are a great potential solution.

Why Velux Sun Tunnels?

The Velux SunCurve diffuser is designed to capture light at all times of the day and reflect it down the shaft, giving you ample daylight dawn dusk.

Velux Sun Tunnels have a variety of parts and accessories to work with whatever needs your location might need; from forced entry protection, A, B, or C fire classifications, to a daylight controller for room darkening.

Sun Tunnel Parts and Accessories.

Velux also provides the best warranty, giving you peace of mind.

Ideal Applications

Velux Commercial Sun Tunnels were created for commercial flat roof applications, no matter the material. They work best over areas that can benefit from natural daylight, and help reduce energy loads and improve the comfort and performance of employees, guests, or customers.

Open Ceiling Sun TunnelSchools, retail spaces, warehouses and office locations benefit the most from Velux Commercial Sun Tunnels. They provide a very cost-effective way to bring in daylight through the roof. Even greater cost savings can be attained with open ceiling applications.

Retail Skylights Increase Sales Up to Forty Percent

Putting skylights into a retail location has shown a positive and significant correlation to higher sales.

A study by HMG found that remodeling to include retail skylights could increase sales up to 40%. They also found that a well designed skylight could save the retail location up to $0.66 per square foot on energy costs. Though the energy savings are nice, HMG reported that the increase in sales from incorporating retail skylights was at least 19 times greater but usually resided around 45-100 times greater.

The link between high consumer activity and skylighting occurred despite the fact that many of the customers interviewed stated that they were unaware of the presence of the retail skylights.

When interviewed, the customers reported that they frequent the skylit stores because of positive environmental feelings, such as stores feeling cleaner, more spacious, more open or brighter, and no seasonal variation was detected. Researchers concluded this suggested a long-term customer loyalty effect and not a short-term impetus on sales.

The increase in sales resulted in both more foot traffic to the retail location, and a rise in the number of average customer transactions.

The study reported customers purchased 1% – 2% more in the skylit stores.

The retail skylights also benefited the employees working in the location as well. They reported feeling happier and an increase of moral, better customer service, increased productivity and a decrease of missed shifts and sick days.

How Daylighting Impacts Our Productivity

Increase Your (Or Your Employees) Productivity with Proper Lighting and Temperature

Daylighting has many benefits, and while most companies and studies focus on cost reduction, daylighting can have a more subtle, yet equally important benefit for yourself or your company.

People who work in natural daylight work more effectively, work longer, feel healthier and happier by the end of the day.

 

9386-7901Most people notice the difference between daylight and artificial light (think about working another day in the office, or spending the day outside) but typically don’t equate it to natural lighting.

A recent study by Mirjam Münch (and others) compared the two environments and recorded how performance, sleepiness, and hormonal activity. They studied two groups of people, one worked in natural daylight, the other in artificial lighting for 8 hour periods. Their results:

Subjects felt significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening after the DL (daylight) condition, and they became sleepier at the end of the evening after the AL (artificial light) condition. For cognitive performance we found a significant interaction between light conditions, mental load (2- or 3-back task) and the order of light administration.

4325_Foothills_Academy_PIn other words, even after just one work period, people felt more awake at the end of the work day (and through it) and slept better that night when working in natural daylight versus artificial light. They also performed better, especially on more difficult tasks, in daylight than artificial light.

One more important finding is that our cortisol levels drop significantly under artificial or poor lighting conditions. Cortisol controls our stress and energy levels, losing it prematurely means you are more tired and stressed throughout the day.

To put it briefly, spending the day in dim or artificial light makes us sleepy, less productive and stressed. This can be powerful knowledge to have in home and office design. Paying attention to your and your employees rhythms and needs can improve your and their productivity and make the place a more enjoyable environment.

Saving Energy With a Good Daylighting System

Properly designed daylighting systems save energy and costs

Artificial lighting requires large amounts of energy and can represent as much as 50% of the electricity consumption of a building. Artificial lighting also generates a large amount of heat. When a good daylighting system is considered in the design phase the HVAC system can be reduced in size and operational cost will be lower.

Replacing artificial lighting systems with an effective daylighting system can reduce a building’s energy costs by as much as 30% to 70%. It is essential that lighting controls be utilized in a good daylighting system.  If the artificial lights are not turned off when the appropriate light levels are met the daylighting system is probably not saving any money on energy.

There are skylight manufacturers that tie the available daylighting into the lighting controls to always insure correct amounts of light and at the same time manage costs to avoid waste.