Daylighting and access floors

Daylighting, the practice of allowing natural light to enter a building, has tremendous benefits to the people who inhabit the space.

The idea behind daylighting is to use natural light as the primary source of daytime illumination, whether it’s brilliant sunlight or muted overcast light. The effect is to bring the outside world into the workplace, thus enriching the environment of the building’s inhabitants.

Benefits of daylighting

People have a natural attraction and need for daylight. The aesthetic and health benefits of daylighting have long been promoted by designers and researchers. This is particularly true for people in northern latitudes who lack exposure to natural light.

It is believed that daylight can support human alertness and productivity. Furthermore, the variation of daylight throughout the day helps people regulate their 24-hour internal clock which is an important component of human health. Seasonal variations of light are also believed to be important for health – so much so that lighting manufacturers are attempting to artificially mimic these variations using electric light sources.

These beliefs are supported by research. To take one example, scientists at the Lightning Research Centre in Troy, N.Y. have reported that daylit environments increase the productivity and comfort of their occupantants.

Workers in daylight retail, commercial and education spaces consistently report how they love working there and hope they never have to transfer elsewhere.

Even retail environments like Wal-Mart have reported on the environmental and monetary benefits of daylighting for both employees and consumers. In-store experiments revealed that areas of stores lit by natural light generated more sales than areas without natural light.

Daylighting minimises the amount of artificial light and reduces electricity costs. It also can lower HVAC costs too. Electrical lighting generates a lot of heat whereas natural lighting generates almost none. With daylighting, energy savings can range from 15 to 40 per cent.

Property value can be another beneficiary of daylighting, with researchers finding that commercial real estate with no windows rents for about 20% less than spaces with windows.

Design considerations for daylighting

The most important design considerations for daylighting include:

  • The control of direct sunlight in key areas during all occupied hours
  • The provision of sufficient ambient daylight for visual tasks
  • Control of unwanted glare
  • Window sizes
  • Quantity and layout of windows
  • Room layout and depth
  • Internal finishes, including reflective surfaces
  • Positioning of external obstructions such as roofs, other buildings or trees

Modeling and design decisions can be accomplished with an increasing selection of daylighting software tools.

Once the design is completed, building occupants and operators need to be educated on the principles of the daylighting design and instructed how to use the lighting and shading controls.

Daylighting and access floors

Access flooring systems are the perfect fit for daylighting design concepts. With an access floor, a void is created which can be used for underfloor service distribution, underfloor air distribution, and the concealment of wire and cable infrastructure.

As the infrastructure is tucked neatly away under the floor this enables the designers to construct expansive windows that to the space to be filled with natural light to connect the building’s inhabitants with their natural environment.

Want to know more about daylighting and how access flooring can help? Just get in touch with our team of experts at Fieldmans Access Floors and ask! Give us a call on 020 8462 7100 with any questions or book an appointment for a more detailed discussion.