A Pyramid Skylight Retrofit Will Provide Improved Daylighting
The Chase Bank building in Loveland, CO has four low-rise pyramid skylights. The bank has experienced problems with these skylights over the years. Gaskets failing, condensation problems, and popping noises were a just few of the constant problems.
The biggest complaint, however, was the quality of the light and the heat from the sun. The light the skylights were projecting into the building was the number one complaint over the years. The longer the acrylic panels were in place the worse the yellowing of the light and the unbearable heat gain, especially on the second floor.
Going up to the second floor was like being an ant under a magnifying glass in the summer.
We discussed with the contractor and building owner the combinations of colors we could use to gain the control they were looking for. It was decided to use a blue polycarbonate outer layer with an interior layer of Ice White Matte. The Ice White Matte allows the light to be dispersed evenly across and down from each skylight.
A Daylighting Comparison: Yellowed Fiberglass vs. Translucent Polycarbonate
As you can see from the pictures above the new skylights have a much better light spectrum. It disperses a true translucent light as designed by the skylight manufacturer. Once Skylight Specialists had removed and installed one skylight, a crowd formed to watch the color change from a dingy yellow light to soft blueish hue. The building owner and the contractor were thrilled with the finished product. Before our installation crew had completed the project, the owner requested budget pricing to replace a similar fiberglass single slope skylight with the same product.
- Removed failed acrylic skylights.
- Inspected and modified existing curbs.
- Installed new extruded aluminum framing.
- Installed 2 ¾” Quadwall® polycarbonate panels.
- Installed cap to aluminum.
- Sealed with structural sealant.
- Cleaned work area of all debris.
- Policed area for debris adjacent to work area.
- (4) EA. DIRECT2FAB 16′ X 16′ CPI QUADWALL® PYRAMID SKYLIGHT UNITS.
- Blue over Ice White Matte Pentaglas Panels.
- Direct2Fab (formerly Fastrak) is a fast delivery program for custom sized skylights from CPI Daylighting. Each D2F project moves directly from order entry to the fabrication floor— eliminating weeks of engineering and submittal time.
- Improved thermal dynamics of the building.
- Increased light transmittance.
- Increased solar heat gain control.
- Correct the daylighting and solar heat levels required for the space.
- Reduce dependence on electric lighting—increase energy savings.
- The owners love the energy savings provided by the new skylights.
- Increase the facility’s property value.
- Healthy, natural daylight in the space with soft translucent light and accurate color rendition.
- No required maintenance or re-coating costs—individual exterior panels are easily replaced.
- In work environments, increased daylighting has been shown to increase productivity.
- In retail environments, increased daylighting has been shown to increase sales by as much as 40%.
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.
To 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.
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.
Today, 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.
Take Rooftop and Skylight Safety Seriously
We’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.
Skylight 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
Not 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!