From reducing energy bills to increasing productivity, the benefits of daylighting are numerous. However, many businesses that set out to achieve these benefits come up short due to the same old office and retail daylighting mistakes.
Regardless of how advanced a daylighting system may be, its benefits depend on the way it’s utilized. When maintained, managed, and used properly, daylighting can be a huge help. Used improperly and it’s an expensive exercise in minimal results.
These four daylighting mistakes are frequently made by owners of office buildings, retail stores, and other structures that use daylighting systems. Read and memorize them to prevent them from compromising your own office daylighting system.
Adding natural light sources without adequate shading
Nothing is more frustrating to a modern office than endless light and unavoidable glare. A recent study by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy shows that many offices are rendered less efficient than normal by daylighting systems that make workers tolerate excessive computer monitor glare.
Natural light is massively beneficial to modern offices, but only when it’s backed up by effective shading. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy recommends offices invest in venetian blinds or another form of adjustable shade control to prevent the glare from large windows from compromising productivity.
Another popular solution is to invest in glare control filters for large windows. This solution has some excellent advantages, but can become a problem of its own when overused. It’s recommended that offices avoid 100 percent coverage if they plan to use a glare control filter.
Relying on artificial light, even when it isn’t necessary
The Swiss Federal Office of Energy’s study revealed a frustrating reality of modern daylighting – eight out of nine naturally lit buildings switch on artificial lights, even when they don’t need to.
The study found that artificial lighting was typically used every day in most offices lit using natural light, regardless of the weather conditions. This means that many offices were wasting energy on lighting that was adding little to their office in the first place.
The power of habit is incredible, and one aspect of managing an effective daylighting system
Investing in too much glare protection for windows
Glare protection is very helpful for preventing natural light from obscuring monitors and televisions. It’s also valuable for stopping chrome and glass from turning offices into bright, uncomfortable environments where productive work is difficult.
Excessive glare protection, however, can also make daylighting less effective on days where natural light isn’t available in abundance. 100 percent anti-glare coverage on windows will reduce natural light available, particularly on cloudy or wet days.
Juliette Fond and Miklos Kiss, the two researchers behind the Swiss study, think that a 100 percent glare reduction strategy is a mistake. Instead, they recommend using glare control filters only on windows that are located close to digital workstations.
Asking workers to manage their own office lighting
When you assign the task of managing artificial lighting to your staff, it will quickly fall victim to old habits. Fond and Kiss believe that one of the top reasons for a lack of daylighting benefits in many offices is a workforce that instinctively turns on the lights in the morning before forgetting to adjust them later in the day.
The solution is simple – instead of operating office lighting manually, which makes it far more likely that simple errors will increase energy usage – offices should use an automated system to control their artificial lighting. This helps to reduce artificial lighting usage at noon and in the early afternoon, when natural light is available.