Daylight Modelling

Spend ten minutes in a seminar discussing the real costs of running businesses and designing buildings to suit those businesses, and the profound effect of daylight exposure to productivity will be addressed.

The electricity savings associated with less lighting use is obvious, but what of happier healing (in the case of a hospital), or learning (in the case of a school) in a sunny, well-lit space over one lit with fluorescent or LED lights? On top of that, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba have the most and the best sunlight in the whole country…why aren’t we using it to our maximum benefit?

One reason is because proper daylight design is hard: while too little daylight is an apparent problem, too much causes glare and discomfort that is real and also to be avoided.  Lots of windows can also mean lots of thermal conductivity and energy loss through the envelope, so a balance has to be sought.

Because of the clear benefits of daylighting, but also the challenges of glare and balancing against energy use, Thurston Engineering Services is pursuing daylight modeling as a natural extension of its energy modeling.  Together, LEED points in EQ Daylight and EA Minimum/Optimize Energy Performance can be optimized.  This is will be even more advantageous as LEED version 4 (LEEDv4) comes online, as it increases the points available with daylight design but also requires either computer simulation or actual measurement (prescriptive path is eliminated).

While energy design/modeling is most effective when done early in design, in reality, an experienced design team can piece together energy efficient components to meet energy goals without extensive early modelling involvement; however, daylight can not be done in the same way.  A daylight consultant is needed to assess the sun’s position and the architectural elements through a series of timesteps to make sure spaces are adequately lit, but not over-lit.  This must be done early in design to get a favourable result, but the outcome of a sunny, beautiful building (that people will want to be in) will make it all worth it.

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