From your workplace to your home, making your building more daylight friendly and energy efficient has numerous benefits. These include increased productivity, lower energy bills and, of course, a reduction in your environmental impact.
If you’re designing and constructing a new building, making it energy efficient and daylight friendly is fairly simple. But what if your business is located in a building that’s already built or an older building from a period prior to energy efficiency?
In this guide, we’ll share six ways that you can update your building – whether it’s a decade old of half a century old – to better use daylight and reduce its total energy consumption.
Use what your building already offers
The worst offenders for daylight-unfriendliness are typically buildings from the mid to late 20th century. Buildings constructed prior to the fluorescent lighting boom are, contrary to many people’s expectations, actually quite energy efficient already.
Many older buildings already feature large windows and ample natural sunlight. If your building is already well lit, your focus should be on controlling this light so it’s usable – for example, by reducing glare – rather than installing daylighting systems.
Carry out a detailed energy audit
If your office or workplace was built during the mid to late 20th century, there’s an extremely high chance it uses technology such as fluorescent lighting – often with small, ineffective windows – that robs it of potential energy efficiency.
The key to making positive energy efficiency change is working out your building’s biggest weaknesses. Perform an energy audit to learn more about how and where your existing building is falling short and how it could be improved.
Use skylights to provide inner lighting
Many older buildings – particularly mid-century homes and offices – have ample natural light in corner offices and areas close the edges of the building, but lower levels of light further inside the building that require extra artificial lighting.
If your building has uneven light distribution, consider installing skylights within your office – provided your building is single-story – to provide natural light to the inner sections of your workplace that usually depend on artificial lighting.
Use blinds to control the light you already have
Many older buildings have large exterior windows that let in lots of natural light, but these windows remain covered by up thick blinds or curtains that reduce the flow of natural light into the workplace itself.
If your office currently uses shutters that block all light, consider switching to blinds that can easily be adjusted to change the amount of light and control factors such as glare, which can potentially affect productivity and visibility in your office.
Reduce glare and heat loss using insulation
Everyone knows that walls can be insulated to prevent heat loss, but few people are aware that windows and skylights can also be insulated to reduce heat loss and help control the level of glare in your office.
If you pull down the blinds to keep heat in your office – reducing natural light levels in the process – consider using a window treatment to reduce ambient heat loss and maximize your building’s usage of natural sunlight for better energy efficiency.
Use an architect to produce aesthetically pleasing changes
Many people with older homes, as well as companies that operate from older and aesthetically significant buildings, associate the words “energy efficiency” with the idea of changing their building’s appearance.
This doesn’t need to be the case. By working with an architect, you can implement a daylighting system that complements and improves your building’s appearance and has no negative effect on its historical significance or aesthetics.