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Tag Archives: Natural Light

Design For Daylighting

Brighten the outlook of building occupants and reduce lighting costs by bringing natural light inside.

By Jody Andres, AIA, LEED AP
From the April 2019 Issue

In today’s climate of sustainable design, it’s rare that a newly constructed facility or one being renovated does not include some level of eco-friendly features. Overlooked in the past, daylighting is one of those features and is no longer an afterthought. It could be argued that how to best use natural light should be a primary consideration in the design of any new facility. But why is it so important?

 

daylighting
Today’s schools typically include a significant number of windows on exterior walls, contributing to an environment where students and teachers can excel. (Photo: Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction)

The Physiological Perspective. The bottom line—daylight is good for us. Research has demonstrated the positive effects of exposure to natural light. Daylight has been shown to combat the effects of depression. It can help improve a person’s mood and maintain a calmer disposition. In addition, exposure to daylight is one of the primary ways we can get and maintain healthy vitamin D levels in our bodies.

When we incorporate windows and natural light into facilities, we’re helping fulfill a basic desire for a connection to light and nature. The biophilia hypothesis—introduced by Edward O. Wilson in his book, Biophilia—proposes that humans have a desire to seek out connections with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic design and planning increases access to nature, light, and biodiversity to reduce stress, promote healing, foster creativity, and improve cognitive function.

The Productivity Perspective. In the workplace, daylighting is a critical design element for employers and their facility planners to consider. Not only does daylighting and controlling artificial lights in the workplace save money, but it’s been proven to help create a more comfortable work environment and make employees more productive.

“Daylight and Productivity—A Field Study,” a study conducted by Mariana G. Figuerio, Mark S. Rea, and Anne C. Rea of the Lighting Research Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Richard G. Stevens from the University of Connecticut Health Center, Department of Community Medicine, explored the occupancy rates, amount of time subjects spent on work-related tasks, and electric lighting operation in daylit and interior offices. They found that people located in windowed offices spent considerably more time (15%) on work-related tasks compared to employees in interior offices. These results matched their hypothesis that people who work in interior spaces would spend less time in their offices and be less productive than people working in windowed spaces.

When it comes to educational facilities, consider the results of the Heschong Mahone Daylighting Study (conducted by Heschong Mahone Group), which involved more than 21,000 students. Study results presented a significant correlation between learning spaces with natural light and student performance, finding that both reading and math scores improved for students in spaces with abundant daylight. Additionally, there was a 20% faster progression in math and a 26% faster progression in reading.

Meanwhile, school administrators are continually seeking the means to retain the best faculty and staff. Abundant daylight in well-designed work environment is sure to be looked at favorably by current and potential employees.

The Economic Perspective. While there are a bevy of health and production-related reasons to incorporate daylighting, we shouldn’t lose sight of the financial benefits. More natural light means a decreased need for artificial light. This trade-off reduces a building’s power consumption. Additionally, latent (passive solar) heat in the winter decreases the demand on heating systems.

EXAMINING DAYLIGHTING STRATEGIES

Whether in a school, office, or senior care facility, natural light can benefit building occupants by providing a healthier, more interesting, and dynamic environment in which to learn, work, or live. So, what are some of the best strategies to utilize when incorporating daylighting?

daylighting
The use of daylighting is key to providing employees with a comfortable, desirable work environment that helps increase their productivity. (Photo: Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction)

In the case of new construction, orientation of the building is critical. Siting the building on an east-west axis, with south- and north-facing windows is a key design strategy. And with technological advances, windows can be altered to control how much daylight will enter the space. When planning areas that will contain display equipment, such as high-definition televisions and whiteboards, the design team should take special care with window placement to control lighting levels and to prevent glare or blinding conditions in the space.

Daylighting and control options that are becoming standard design elements include sun control and shading devices, light shelves, clerestory windows, tubular daylight devices, and translucent skylight systems. In the case of a renovation, the use of natural light can be further enhanced by using window films to contain glare. While timers and motion sensors designed to reduce light levels are not new, the next wave of sensors actually measures daylight levels in a room (or portion of a room) and adjusts accordingly.

Although at first mention it seems counterintuitive, artificial lighting can contribute to a good daylighting strategy. A popular design element is the installation of direct-indirect lighting fixtures. With these, more than half of the light generated can be directed upward, reflecting off of the ceiling and other surfaces. This results in reduced glare, a more uniform ambient light level with fewer “hot” spots, the need for fewer artificial lights, and decreased energy use and costs.

MODELING AND ASSESSMENTS

Energy modeling and computer generated building models can be extremely helpful evaluation tools when determining daylighting strategies. Using these, facility owners and maintenance staff will not only be able to observe how natural light and views will exist in their building, but they’ll get an understanding of how much energy—namely in lighting and cooling—can be saved. Whether new construction or renovation, modeling should be incorporated to inform the design effort and guide decision-making. As early as possible, the project team should evaluate the most appropriate ways to bring daylight and views into a facility and how these will be integrated with artificial lighting and controls. As more design and product options are entered into modeling software, facility planners are able to make informed design decisions.

Another critical element to consider when pursuing daylighting is assessing lighting quality and levels compared to the visual tasks being performed. Not to be overlooked is controlling glare in environments awash in daylight. Building occupants will close blinds and shades if they decide too much daylight is obstructing their view. This not only removes views to the outside, but may also necessitate use of artificial lights.

When using natural light to help achieve lighting levels, the selection of window glass (based on the orientation of each window) is vital. While spaces that are over lit waste energy and money, occupant productivity may be negatively impacted by inadequate or poor quality lighting. As a guide for determining a good lighting level for most offices or educational spaces, daylight balanced with an average of 40 to 50 foot-candles of artificial light capability is ideal. (A common unit of measurement in the lighting industry, foot-candle is roughly defined as the amount of light that actually falls on a specific surface.)

The benefits of daylighting are numerous and should be enjoyed. When planning your next project, discuss potential strategies with your design team to create an environment where occupants can thrive.

daylightingAndres is a senior project architect and the K-12 market leader at Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. in Appleton, WI. He is a LEED AP, past President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Wisconsin, and the regional representative to the AIA Strategic Council.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send an e-mail to the Editor at acosgrove@groupc.com.

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DESIGNING FOR WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE

posted on 04/26/2018Lisa Bell-Reim, AIA

Between work deadlines and juggling personal responsibilities, it can be tough for employees to maintain stability in their life. Finding a healthy work-life balance can help improve one’s overall well-being, ultimately making employees more productive and happier in their work environment. Companies that invest in employee support and satisfaction tend to succeed in generating happier workers. A 2015 study by economists at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12 percent spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10 percent less productive.

Continue reading DESIGNING FOR WELLNESS IN THE WORKPLACE

The Most Popular Interior Design Styles in Each State

When you think of what’s hot in interior design right now, do your dad’s wingback chairs and grandma’s ornate chandeliers come to mind? Well, maybe they should. A new study by Joybird, a custom furniture company, revealed that Victorian is the interior design style that wins the popularity vote in more U.S. states than any other decor style.

But hold off on a full “Age of Innocence” home makeover. Crown molding and floral wallpaper might reign supreme in 10 states, but that doesn’t mean stuffy Victorian style is on the rise across the country. In fact, trendsetting states such as California and New York actually preferred transitional and contemporary styles, respectively.

“Traditionally, home styles begin on either coast and work toward the center of the country,” says John B. Chadwick Jr., an interior designer in New York City.

The study compared the most-searched interior design terms in each state, based on Google Trends data over the past 12 months.

The states where Victorian style is No. 1 are Nevada, Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware.

Bohemian, the No. 2 style, was the top search term in nine states: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

Take a look at the rest of the most searched styles in the chart below.

Victorian style reigned supreme in the greatest number of states, followed by bohemian and contemporary.
Victorian style reigned supreme in the greatest number of states, followed by bohemian and contemporary.Joybird

Contemporary and transitional styles dominate on the coasts

Anyone who wants to stay on the pulse of the next big thing in design has long known to look to New York and California, and the study confirms it.

“The design and fashion industries and other businesses on the East and West coasts help drive the trends,” says Bonnie J. Steves, an interior designer in New York City.

Of particular interest to many design mavens is contemporary style, which has taken root in New York. The style encompasses a range of different trends developed in the latter half of the 20th century, featuring rounded lines and a mix of bold and neutral shades.

“Contemporary style in particular will permeate in coming years,” says Steves. “We live in such a connected, digital society that someone can see something that’s trending in New York and immediately have access to it in Kansas City.”

Contemporary was also the top searched style in Texas. Houston-based architect and interior designer Lauren Rottet says she has been seeing a lot more homes spotlighting the style being built in the Houston and Dallas areas.

“All the 30-somethings I know are very contemporary or Mid-Century Modern,” she says. “I think the home [reality] shows may be influencing this.”
Photo by New Generation Home Improvements – Contemporary kitchens like this one are trending in states such as Texas, New York, and Virginia. 

The transitional style favored in California is a more accessible look that melds two different aesthetics: modern and traditional.

“Transitional has some key elements of classic, timeless design but offers modern convenience with simple lines and profiles,” says Eric Tsai, director of marketing for Joybird. “People in California seem to like the mix and match of old and new more than staying within a defined style.”

“California culture is one of constant transitions,” says interior designer Linda Kitson of Summit, NJ. She favors such features as whitewashed oak beams, natural light, and bronze-framed windows.

Photo by R.P. Morrison Builders, Inc. – This transitional living room in Portland, ME, perfectly balances a number of styles into one crowd-pleasing space.

Is coastal on the way out?

South Carolina was the only state where coastal was the most searched style, which could indicate that people in general are cooling to the trend.

“It is surprising to me that coastal was only popular in one state,” says Steves. “I thought it would have been big in Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, and Massachusetts around Cape Cod.”

How does your home’s style stack up against the most popular style in your state? Check out the list below.

Alabama: Bohemian
Alaska: Bohemian
Arizona: Traditional
Arkansas: Shabby chic
California: Transitional
Colorado: Industrial
Connecticut: Victorian
Delaware: Victorian
Florida: Contemporary
Georgia: Bohemian
Hawaii: Traditional
Idaho: Shabby chic
Illinois: Contemporary
Indiana: Victorian
Iowa: Industrial
Kansas: Contemporary
Kentucky: Traditional
Louisiana: Shabby chic
Maine: Victorian
Maryland: Contemporary
Massachusetts: Transitional
Michigan: Industrial
Minnesota: Mid-Century Modern
Mississippi: Shabby chic
Missouri: Victorian
Montana: Bohemian
Nebraska: Victorian
Nevada: Victorian
New Hampshire: Bohemian
New Jersey: Bohemian
New Mexico: Art Deco
New York: Contemporary
North Carolina: Contemporary
North Dakota: Bohemian
Ohio: Industrial
Oklahoma: Vintage
Oregon: Industrial
Pennsylvania: Vintage
Rhode Island: Vintage
South Carolina: Coastal
South Dakota: Western
Tennessee: Shabby chic
Texas: Contemporary
Utah: Modern farmhouse
Vermont: Vintage
Virginia: Contemporary
Washington: Mid-Century Modern
West Virginia: Bohemian
Wisconsin: Industrial
Wyoming: Western

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