With the importance of energy efficiency becoming more apparent every year, the number of businesses making use of natural daylighting is increasing. Despite this, many businesses that light their workplaces naturally aren’t using natural light as efficiently as they could for a variety of reasons.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the myths and facts of one of the most misunderstood aspects of daylighting: daylight harvesting. We’ll also talk about how many naturally lit offices, retail stores and industrial buildings fail to reap the full benefits of natural light by continuing with outdated energy efficiency practices.
What is daylight harvesting?
Daylight harvesting has become something of a buzzword in the energy efficiency world. In simple terms, it means using daylight to reduce the level of artificial light that’s needed to illuminate an office, retail store or any other workplace.
The most efficient daylight harvesting systems are automated, and always monitor the level of natural light present in an environment at any one time. If it rises above a baseline, the artificial lights dim; if it drops below baseline, they brighten.
When used properly, daylight harvesting systems have numerous advantages. Good daylight harvesting systems are usually set to maintain a light level of about 500 Lux per office workstation, although the average light level can vary by industry.
The advantages of daylight harvesting
Daylight harvesting has many advantages when used properly. Since light levels are constant regardless of the level of sunlight available on a particular day, businesses can enjoy a consistently lit workplace regardless of the local weather.
On sunny days, artificial lights automatically dim and natural light becomes the top source of interior light. On overcast or rainy days, the opposite occurs – the interior lights brighten and the workplace remains at a consistent, comfortable light level.
This reduces a workplace’s environmental impact and makes it significantly more green and earth-friendly. When properly implemented, it also significantly lowers the workplace’s energy consumption, often by as much as 30% per month.
Additionally, the combination of natural light and artificial light provided by a good daylight harvesting system offers the best of both worlds: the productivity boost of natural light combined with the predictability of an artificial lighting system.
Common daylight harvesting mistakes
Daylight harvesting is a great way for businesses to reduce their energy usage and become more environmentally friendly, if it’s implemented properly. However, old habits die hard and many businesses simply don’t do daylight harvesting right.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make after installing a natural daylighting system and light sensors is setting their light level too high. Most workplaces don’t need to be heavily lit, especially when they’re lit using natural sunlight.
This means that artificial lights often remain on all the time, even when an adequate amount of natural light is streaming in through the windows. This can result in work environments that don’t save energy, but waste it on needless artificial lighting.
Another common mistake of daylight harvesting is using blinds and other systems to block light that are controlled manually. Many people have their own ideas when it comes to the perfect light level and will override the target of the light sensors.
Finally, a common mistake of many businesses is applying the same light level to all rooms. Not all rooms need to be lit constantly, and many workplaces waste a huge amount of energy lighting rooms that are frequently devoid of human activity.
Using daylight harvesting properly
Daylight harvesting can be an incredible asset to businesses when it’s used the way it should be – with a reasonable light level, automatic controls and sensors in rooms that switch lights off automatically when there’s no human activity.
With the right daylight harvesting strategy, businesses really can enjoy the best of both worlds: a beautifully lit office from the early morning until night, the warmth and comfort of natural light, lower energy bills and a more productive team.