One of our best renewable resources is available to us just outside our windows. Using natural sunlight in your building is a great way to stay green while using sustainable design concepts. Natural sunlight not only improves the mood and morale of the people residing within the building, but it can lower energy costs and reduce carbon emissions.
The orientation and direction of the building will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the sunlight. For cold and rainy climates it makes sense to orient the building's footprint to maximize the natural sunlight to replace traditional electricity. For sunny areas though, maximum sun exposure is not ideal as this can cause the building to heat too quickly spiking cooling costs. An energy model should be performed to track local weather and sun exposure of the potential build site. Likewise, the interior of the building should be designed with the use of natural sunlight in mind. Be sure to select highly reflective surfaces to maximize the usable light in the room.
To allow for natural sunlight the building will need plenty of windows, which have come a long way in overall design. Knowing that the building will rely on sunlight can help tremendously when selecting which windows to use. Windows can be designed to include the following features:
● High-performance glazing
● Side lighting and aperture lighting
● Exterior solar shading devices
● Integrated electric lighting controls
By knowing how the building will be built and used will help determine the right windows. Further, windows will be selected to optimize the window to wall ratio. Having too many windows can be harmful when trying to reducing energy costs. If there are too many windows and not enough wall space to insulate the building you could end up paying more for heating and cooling. An energy model can help determine the appropriate amount of windows.
In a typical commercial building, the use of natural sunlight can add up to significant savings. On average, buildings that rely on electric lighting consume about 15 percent more energy than those with natural sunlight. By implementing simple daylight energy controls, which can sense when the natural sunlight is sufficient, buildings can conserve about 60% of their normal energy expenditure.
At Gausman & Moore, we pride ourselves on our ingenuity and creativity. Our team of engineers will work hand-in-hand with designers, architects, and building owners to help create a winning building design. We specialize in sustainable design utilizing renewable energy resources. If you are interested in learning more about how you can include more natural sunlight into your new building, contact us today. Not only will you be able to see our portfolio of past projects but you can learn more about our areas of specialty.