Can Older Buildings Reap the Benefits of Skylights and Natural Daylighting?

With small windows and tight spaces, it can be easy to assume that old buildings can’t benefit from daylighting solutions. The truth, however, is quite the opposite: old buildings can often benefit the most from skylights and daylighting systems.

In the first half of the last century, a large number of buildings were designed with almost no attention to natural lighting at all. After all, energy efficiency and other aspects of modern building designs were nonissues during most of the last century.

Can Older Buildings Reap the Benefits of Skylights and Natural Daylighting? Because of the period during which they were designed, many older buildings were constructed with limited attention to natural source of light. With inexpensive office lighting available, who really needed skylights or large, naturally lit workspaces?

Thankfully, implementing modern daylighting principles in older buildings is far from difficult. In fact, thanks to their somewhat light-inefficient designs, many old buildings can benefit hugely from even a very basic daylighting system.

Tight rooms with few windows can light up with a small skylight, while large offices and meeting rooms can be transformed by expanded windows. Light – an essential element of the modern office – needn’t come from ceiling lights or desk lamps.

Because of their design, many older buildings benefit from daylighting solutions in more ways than just one. Since older multi-story buildings were often designed with little attention to heating, daylighting can transform their thermal atmosphere.

With modern UV filtering solutions, office skylights can be just as useful for thermal temperature control as they are for daylighting. From light to heat, the benefits of a daylighting system in older commercial buildings are extensive.

While the benefits of daylighting are numerous, older commercial building owners may face some issues installing daylighting systems in their buildings. One of these is the weight of skylights and their need to be installed horizontally on a roof.

If your building, for instance, has rafters that are centered at a length that isn’t the typical two feet, you may face issues installing daylighting. Likewise, your building may lack the roof space for a traditional office skylight installation.

Thankfully, these issues can be overcome by using smart construction techniques and high quality daylighting systems. With the right preventative measures, your office building can also avoid common maintenance issues for older buildings such as leaking skylights and gradual deterioration around the skylight’s frame.

Finally, if you own a building that already has daylighting installed, you may want to invest in bringing it ‘up to date.’ While skylights have been used in buildings for over a century, most early skylights are rarely more than a single pane of glass, with little in the way of UV protection or heat insulation.

Whether your building is ten, fifty, or one hundred years old, it’s never too old for a modern daylighting system to improve its aesthetics, energy efficiency, or heating requirements. From modern to classic, art deco to ultra-chic, any building has the potential to benefit from energy-efficient modern daylighting.

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