Daylighting and Energy Usage

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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.

Daylighting and the Energy Codes

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Better Performance Required

Throughout the US the energy codes are being rewritten. As energy demands increase, The US Dept. of Energy is requiring higher and better performance from buildings. But the interesting thing to note is that the US Dept. of Energy is requiring more daylighting at the same time. This can be a challenge to increase the amount of daylighting while at the same time increasing the energy performance of the building.

energy-codesToday, any new buildings over 10,000 square feet are required to have daylight space.

It is critical that energy codes are followed. Not following the code or ignoring NFRC can result in loss of LEED points.

Skylight Safety

Take Rooftop and Skylight Safety Seriously

Fall-Protection-SmallWe’re often told of the hazards of being on a roof and fall protection, but some of the guidelines can seem a bit over-cautious. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most workers feel fit and healthy enough to not heed some fall protection advice. “I have good balance.” Or “I’m young a healthy, a fall won’t hurt me.” Both are quite far from the truth. Everyone has good balance until that one time they don’t, from a head rush, or a burst of wind, or a small slip on a screw or nail. And fall injury’s don’t work the same as others. While your health or youth might make recovery better, that’s only if you survive the fall. A fall of just 6 feet has the ability to cause a fatal head injury. Even that statement seems outlandish, how could a fall from that short of distance hurt anyone, let alone kill someone? It’s just that are bodies are not designed to take impacts from falls, we don’t have any shock absorption in our head or necks, making even small falls potentially deadly.

Routes of travel that take you past skylights or near the edge of the roof have now exposed you to fall hazards. This is not an empty warning.

Fall-protection-hierarchySkylight Openings are Dangerous on Job Sites

Recently a 39-year-old worker fell to his death on a job site through a skylight opening. The contractor was cited, as the death was considered preventable. Don’t put your workers at risk. Make sure they take safety serious and take the necessary precautions.

Skylights are Even More Dangerous

broken-skylight-fallen-throughNot only are skylight openings dangerous on job sites, skylights themselves are even more dangerous. Many assume the glazing is structurally sound, and can support their weight if a fall or slip were to happen. This is rarely the case. Most glazing is designed only for impact resistance from small hail. The fall of an average human is way more than the skylight can support. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because the opening is covered, it is safe. Take precautions and stay healthy and alive!

UniQuad Makes a Big Impact for Two New Aquatics Centers

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Light Plays a Big Role at Two New Aquatic Centers in Suburban Vancouver, BC

Surrey, BC is a small but growing suburban community outside of Vancouver that is growing into a more fully equiped modern city. The city leaders tasked Bing Thom Architects and Hughes Condon Marler Architects with designing two new cultural hubs for the city, public aquatic centers, to tie into the city’s love for fun and fitness.

These community indoor swimming pools offer up some design challenges though, with the biggest being height for water slides and high dives and a large open span for the pool.

Grandview Heights Aquatic Center

Guildford-Aquatic-Centre-Grandview-Heights-Aquatic-Centre-01Hughes Condon Marler Architects designed the Grandview Heights Aquatic Center with an Olympic sized swimming pool, diving platforms, a leisure pool with water slide, hot tubs, a sauna, and steam room and a weight room all completely filled with light. HCMA created a roof shaped like an ocean wave that operates like a suspension bridge to keep the building free of support beams allow for the walls to be covered in CPI’s UniQuad product.

This very impressive building features 12,700 sq ft of UniQuad Translucent Walls with heights up to 50 feet. The wall panels are a major focal point of the aquatic center and a majority of the light comes from the translucent walls and they add to the visual drama of the space.

Guildford Aquatic Center

Guildford-Aquatic-Centre-Grandview-Heights-Aquatic-Centre-07Bing Thom Architects went with skylights instead of wall lights to bring natural light into the Guildford Aquatics Center. The aquatic center is an addition to an existing athletic center and BTA designed it to hold a competition lap pool, and a family pool with water slide and the always important lazy river.

The Guildford center uses preformed concrete slabs as the walls, the polar opposite of the translucent panels and glass walls of the Grandview Heights Aquatic Center. So to bring in the light and add visual interest to the shoe box shaped building BTA used long wooden trusses and coupled with skylights. The trusses serve a dual purpose as well, they contain the mechanical and sprinkler systems and are large enough to allow maintenance workers to walk through them. The skylights cast striped light and shadow across the eastern wall with the afternoon sun, creating visual patterns and interest while letting in daylight.

Both Aquatic Center’s use daylight to create impact and visual interest, but rely on different methods to achieve their results. Which do you like better? Which product would you rather use? Let us know in the comments!

Read the full architectual article here:

Making a Splash

Photos by Ema Peters.