New Designs in Active Daylighting

January/February 2006
A version of this article appears in the January/February 2006 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2006
Since the sun is available when utilities experience peak demand, well-designed daylighting systems help to limit demand on the grid.
        Daylighting offers many important benefits. First, there are a variety of psychological benefits associated with human needs for connections with the outdoors. We evolved mostly under tree canopies and on open plains, almost totally immersed in the natural environment. It is not surprising, then, that we have strong needs for continuous interaction with that environment. The second most important benefit is for interior illumination. Daylighting was necessary before inexpensive, smokeless electric lighting came along, so our architectural design traditions have provided us with extensive knowledge and many ancient strategies for introducing natural light into structures.         Finally, using natural light to provide illumination saves energy by diminishing the use of electricity for electric lighting while lowering cooling loads. Since the sun is available when utilities experience peak demand,well-designed daylighting systems help to limit demand on the grid, thereby delaying the need for new power plants and associated infrastructure. Existing Technology         It is difficult to beat a conventional window for the many benefits it provides. Proper design, of course, is critical in order to avoid problems of glare and overheating, or draftiness on ...

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