One beautiful, soul-healthy way to live and work sustainably is to incorporate natural light into your design priorities. Not only is daylight and the visual connection with the outdoors scientifically proven to increase the health, well-being and performance of the users, it’s also a very cost-effective way of reducing the need for artificial forms of energy. The more daylight in a space, the fewer number of electrical lights needed and the less heat generated from those electrical lights. Less heat load also means lower energy consumption to cool the space.
Of course adding daylight cannot just be simplified to providing larger, open windows. The architectural orientation of a building (southern exposure is best for areas in the northern hemisphere), privacy, glare and the interior’s ability to maximize the daylighting effects (matte, light colors reflect the daylight best without being blinding) are all important considerations. Direct sunlight can actually increase the heat loads of a space, especially in the summer months, as well as provide a lot of glare. Clerestory windows and angled skylights bring daylight into a space and flood the room with indirect light that is bounced off walls and ceilings. Using exterior awnings to screen and diffuse the light also help to prevent the heat build-up within the space without sacrificing the view and lighting.
Clerestory windows and skylights not only provide indirect light for glare and heat reduction, but they are perfect for spaces where privacy is a priority. Direct views into the room are eliminated, but the connection with the outdoors is still very apparent. Moving task areas, like bathroom sinks, workspaces and reading areas, directly next to a natural light source also increases the benefit of the light for the user and again reduces the need for electrical lighting.
So how is your space incorporating daylight? Could you use more natural light in your environment? If you’re not able to renovate a window or cut through your roof, try painting the walls with a lighter color; move desks, reading chairs and tables closer to windows; and change out heavy blinds and drapes for soft, light filtering shades. Happy sunning!