Natural lighting is known in green design as daylighting. The sun’s rays allow us to keep off lighting in our homes and workplaces during the day, saving energy and money. If you open your blinds or shades in the morning to let the sunlight in, then you are practicing daylighting.
Light is an important element in the home and workplace. Studies have proven that people who live and work in well-lit environments are happier, healthier and more productive. Natural light lifts the spirits, makes spaces appear larger and lessen demands on electricity. Natural light also reduces eyestrain, improves efficiency, and reduces absenteeism in the workplace. Peoples’ lives are undeniably enhanced in light filled environments.
In the workplace, workers should be provided with a connection between indoor spaces and the outdoor environment through spaces designed to maximize natural lighting and view opportunities in regularly used areas of the tenant space. Outdoor views give workers a place to rest their eyes from looking at their computer screens for long periods of time, helping to reduce eye strain.
Natural light is calming for children, and is essential for moderately to severely disabled children. Autistic children who have sensitive hearing are particularly bothered by the buzz from fluorescent lights which can disturb their mood. Patients in hospitals who are exposed to daylight suffer less depression and recover much faster than patients without exposure to daylight.
As we age, falling can become a very serious health concern, insufficient light in the environment is one the leading causes. Aging eyes require more light in order to see, standard lighting is usually insufficient. With artificial light, less light and patterning is often found, when incorporating natural light into a living environment the aging eye is less confused and the possibility of stumbling and falling decreases.
According to statistics, natural lighting techniques can reduce lighting bills up to 75%. Energy costs are reduced because natural lighting produces less heat than artificial light and requires less air conditioning.
Good natural lighting must be carefully planned out, it will not happen by chance. So, what are the options?
Options for new and existing homes:
For new homes, you must consider the climate in order to obtain the benefits of nature lighting. Homes in cold climates should have windows facing the sun’s path to maximize heat gain, but for homes in hot climates, it is better to orient the windows the opposite way. For your climate and geographical location, build your home so the rooms you use the most during the day receive maximum light and most of the time you will never have to turn your lights on until the sun sets.
Skylights. Skylights are windows in the rooftop. They bring in light from overhead. To prevent too much heat from entering, install on the north side of the roof.
Sun Tunnels. A sun tunnel uses a dome skylight on the roof and one on a ceiling of a room, with a tube connecting the two. Light bounces around inside the tube, creating a skylight inside. Sun tunnels prevent heat gain and loss.
Clearstories. Clearstories are windows that are placed high on the walls to allow daylight penetrate deep into a room.
Light Shelves. Light shelves are horizontal fins on the window that bounce light onto the ceiling. They diffuse the light and bring it deeper into the space.
Mirrors. Mirrors reflect light. When well-place, mirrors can double the amount of light in a space.
Lynn has more than 25 years interior design experience working in architecture and interior design firms nationally and internationally producing Corporate, Commercial, Civic, Hospitality and Prestigious Residential projects for Fortune 500 and celebrity clients, architects and builders. Through her in-depth experience she has developed the design ability to see potential in all spaces, and to create innovative, customized design solutions that meet the highest standards of efficiency, quality and sophistication. She has been a long-time professional advocate for sustainable and environmentally conscious design. Lynn is the principal of her firm LHD located in Stamford, CT.
Lynn Hoffman, Principal
IIDA, RID, LEED AP ID+C